Many employees see the human resource (HR) department as the unit responsible for hiring, firing and performance tracking through scheduling tools such as Humanity. This pessimistic view is partly why some workers will give HR a wide berth under the rationale that staying out of sight of HR gives them the best shot at staying out of trouble and climbing the career ladder.
However, HR teams can greatly contribute positively to employee wellbeing and it’s important that business leaders nurture a camaraderie between their HR units and the rest of the workforce. The following are some of the advantages employees can glean from engaging with their HR department.
1. Career Planning
No employee joins an organization with the intention of remaining in the same role indefinitely. They expect to climb up the ranks and perhaps end up in senior management or a highly specialized role. The absence of clear career growth is a common trigger for people seeking work elsewhere.
HR departments can help an employee with career planning since they understand that positive hopeful workers are a critical ingredient to the business’ success. A career path gives employees a more positive outlook of life. It also ensures the HR department has an internal list of ready candidates whenever an appropriate vacancy occurs.
2. Managing Managers
Employees are people and so just like everywhere else, you expect conflicts due to clashes in personalities, points of view and habits. Most times, such conflicts are minor and actually help departments discuss and settle on the best way to do things.
However, conflict can be harmful where there’s a protracted disagreement between an employee and a manager especially if the manager is constantly intimidating the employee. In this context, HR departments can act as the manager of managers. If a manager is malicious and vindictive, HR can intervene.
HR staff could also provide tips on how to work with a difficult manager or colleague, a vital skill every employee needs throughout their career.
3. Continuing Education
There’s no end to learning. Changes in technology, regulation, standards and industry best practice require workers to constantly upgrade their skills if they want to remain relevant.
HR departments can provide ideas and guidance on what courses you can or should do. They could also help with the tuition. Many companies for instance will reimburse tuition fees if the qualification is relevant to the business.
4. Whistle Blowing
No organization is immune to having unethical employees. Nevertheless, workers are often unwilling to confront their rogue colleague or manager for fear of precipitating a vicious cycle of mutual accusations that eventually cast both them and the problem employee in bad light.
This is precisely why many organization’s HR teams have established communication channels and suggestion boxes where staff can provide anonymous tips on suspected or ongoing wrongdoing. This helps bring the violation to senior management’s attention but without jeopardizing the whistle blower’s emotional and job security.
5. Personal Problems
The separation of one’s personal life from their workplace is the professional thing to do. Nevertheless, personal problems can be bad enough to affect your ability to perform your work effectively. A death in the family, a disintegrating marriage, a wayward child or unsustainable debt can push an employee to their breaking point.
A worker’s first port of call when in personal distress should be friends and family. However, it may be necessary to let the HR department know too. Workplace incidents such as sexual harassment must be reported to HR. That said, HR staff are not therapists, lawyers or religious counselors so the employee may still need to reach out to an external professional caregiver.
While HR departments will not run out of dreary paper work it needs employees to fill, they remain an integral positive part of the organization. The department’s success is contingent on the business overall success. By ensuring a positive relation between the department and workers, everyone ultimately wins.