There are numerous misconceptions about the HR function. Many employees do not fully understand the role of HR, their obligations, influence and benefits. Here are some misconceptions about HR professionals that would be good for all employees to know.
Many people want to go into HR because they want to "help people" and then become disillusioned when they realize that the real goal of HR is much more than this. In reality, a lot of these people would have been better as social workers or counselors because that's really what they thought they would be doing - helping people talk and work through their problems.
Keep employees happy or enforce rules
It is a misconception to think that HR is just there to make employees happy or to enforce rules. Effective HR departments strike a fine balance between the needs of employees and the goals of the organization.
HR is a sounding board for employees
HR professionals are ethically obligated to follow up on complaints or issues when they are brought to their attention. Unfortunately, they are not bound by confidentiality and cannot just passively listen. Just as employees have a protected right to come forward with a complaint, HR has a responsibility to take action on the complaint. HR cannot sit by idly if an employee complains of inappropriate workplace behaviour. If HR’s help is sought, they cannot (and should not) keep it confidential. However, they will ensure that the employee’s confidence is fully protected and will only share the information with those that “need to know.”
HR only has the company’s best interests in mind
Some employees will believe that HR only has the best interests of the company in mind. HR straddles a fine line between ensuring compliance and working in aid of all parties concerned. During conflicts, HR makes sure that the employee receives a fair chance, while at the same time, the company makes a smart decision and avoids any risks. In the best case scenario, an employee is made aware that they are not meeting the expectations of the role and that employee manages to turn things around. In the worst case, the employee (after failing to turn things around) loses their job.
HR can help you negotiate
HR will always be your friend. But if you think that they will tell you how much of a raise to ask for or how much severance pay you should receive, you are mistaken. This is essentially asking for private information about other employees and puts the HR contact in an awkward position. However, behind the scenes, HR reviews pay equity, promotional opportunities, policy development and adherence to policy and past practices. These efforts are to provide a fair opportunity for all, even if it is not visible to the employee. Remember, if you have specific concerns about your pay, it would be a good idea to speak to your manager about this or if you go to HR, they can investigate them as they would any complaint.
HR professionals usually have a thankless job. Hopefully, after reading this, it will help you understand the role of an HR professional within a company and prevent disappointments or misunderstandings in the future.