A couple weeks ago, I was talking to a friend about HR. He said that my job must be really difficult since no one trusts HR.
I always find this topic quite interesting because it’s true.
I was in a meeting around culture and inclusion at my employer and I was the “Lone HR Ranger” and there was a lot of beef about how people don’t trust HR.
So, with this is mind, I said to my friend:
“I don’t think there are a lot of people in my field who would admit to this, but I think people distrust HR because in most organizations HR serves management first, rather than the associate.”
I find this to be so incredibly true in my experience. Very rarely do we take the extra time to find out both sides to the story. We don’t create a 360-degree vision while solving employee relation issues. Sometimes the metrics speak for themselves: Are they meeting their numbers? Are customers complaining? Are they actually working? In those cases, fine, I get it. That’s clearly a performance management issue there. Case closed.
But, stepping back and thinking through conversations I’ve had with friends who don’t work in HR at my employer and with friends at other organizations, people flat out do not feel comfortable bringing issues to light to HR because they believe their job will be in jeopardy, no one will listen or the story will be turned around on them.
I personally find myself on the fence around this issue.
There isn’t a perfect answer. One side of me says, “HR is here for the employee.” The employee is obviously defined as management AND non-management. The “employee” is anyone who works for the employer. I’m not writing this because I feel like I have the answers. In fact, I don’t have any answers at all.
However, here are some things to think about:
- We have to create a 360-degree vision around employee-related issues in HR.
- How well do we honor the confidentiality of the employee? Are we giving them reason to not trust HR?
- Do we create a sense of safety so they feel like they CAN trust HR? How often have you received a phone call where the employee doesn’t even want to tell you his/her name?
- Are we listening as an ally with the employee? I mean, really listening. Listen first, talk second.
I said it before, and I’ll say it again, I do not have the answers and this is only my experience. So tell me – does your HR organization work mostly for management or the associate or BOTH?
Can HR be trusted?
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