By Sharoq al-Malki
Yes, it is true. Though you may try to make light of the matter or even plain ignore it, the fact remains that in most organisations, majority of the employees do “not” have a good relationship with HR.
“Not having a good relationship” does not translate into merely being unhappy with HR or not liking HR. Several employees openly hate the human resources department.
If you are an HR professional or a business owner, you might wonder why. After all, why does HR inspire such strong emotions in people. Read on to find out why people hate HR.
It is difficult to ignore HR.
The main purpose of the HR department is to manage the human resources (or people) within the organisation, hence the responsibilities of HR are closely tied in with people policies including (but not restricted to) leaves, medical benefits, compensation claims, performance evaluation guidelines, expense reimbursement policies and so on. Hence employees in the organisation have to closely interact with HR on a regular basis for some reason or the other.
In addition, recruitment and training are crucial responsibilities of HR. Hence line managers are also dependent on HR for shortlisting the right people for various posts and further ensuring suitable training programmes so that employees perform well and add value to the team and thus help in achieving the organisational goals.
In other words, people in all levels of the organisation are thus dependent on HR and closely interact with it on a regular basis. Hence it is really difficult for people to ignore HR or have an “I-don’t-care” attitude towards HR. So people have very strong feelings towards HR- they would either love or hate HR.
And unfortunately due to various reasons, more people hate HR than love.
Here is a look at some of those reasons.
n HR is perceived as a “cost centre”: At the end of the day, every organisation is interested in profitability. Departments like marketing, sales, production and finance are seen to directly contribute to the revenue, while HR offers no such tangible contribution.
All HR does (or so it is perceived) is manage people, draw up policies and the department is considered as adding to the cost and not contributing to revenue. At the same time, it is crucial to have the HR department in place to take care of all legalities related to employees.
So senior management views HR as a ‘necessary evil’ and from there starts the negative perception about HR. It does not take time for such negative perceptions to trickle down and eventually there is a negative feeling about HR throughout the organisation.
n HR communication is considered as jargon: Employees often complain that they cannot understand a word of what HR managers are talking. Their complaint is that HR tends to use jargon such as “internal learning,” “transformational leadership” etc which mean absolutely nothing to them. So often there is a communication gap with HR, which further compounds the problem.
n HR does not understand practical issues: People often feel that HR does not understand any of the practical issues involved in the job. The biggest complaint against HR is that they are sticklers for rules and do not care about extenuating circumstances, when it is practically impossible to strictly stick to rules.
In this case, HR is perceived in the role of an auditor – a strict and no-nonsense auditor, who is concerned only with adherence to policies and procedures and not with the achievement of the desired result. And people are obviously not happy with that.
n HR is viewed solely as an adviser: Often HR is perceived as wearing the hat of an adviser or consultant. They will advise businesses on best polices and procedures and how to do or not to do a particular action.
Line managers resent this as they feel that HR is not equipped to offer such advice. They feel that without any exposure to the market realities and the practical situation outside, giving advice is easy. But actually doing the job and getting the results (which is the responsibility of line managers) is tough. And they feel that HR is not adequately supporting them on this.
n HR has an “easy” job: People in the organisation perceive HR as having an easy job. After all, HR is only dealing with internal employees, policies, regulations and does not really have tangible results to achieve.
On the other hand, employees have measurable sales targets, have to deal with external customers, vendors, and have a more ‘difficult’ and ‘important’ job as compared to HR.
Hence people hate HR all the more when they feel that HR is interfering with their work with all their policies and regulations.
Can this perception be changed?
Yes. It can be and it requires effort both from HR as well as the business within the organisation.
Why is this change needed?
Firstly, when people hate HR (or any other department for that matter), it creates tension within the organisation. At the end of the day, a cohesive close-knit organisation will be the one that moves ahead. Hence it is necessary to iron out the differences and create harmony within the organisation.
How to change the negative perceptions about HR?
It is necessary to create an understanding amongst employees about the importance of the role of HR. Support for this has to come from senior management and HR has to be perceived as ‘for’ the employees and not ‘against’ them. After all HR is also doing its best with creating policies and procedures to help employees get maximum benefits from the organisation.
People should be made to realise that all the rules have been created with a specific purpose and if deviation from rules is allowed, there would be no control and things would become difficult to manage. Hence HR is not insisting on sticking to rules because they want harass people, but because that is the right (and more efficient) way to do things.
On their part, HR employees also need to change their attitude. It will definitely help to use less jargon and communicate more directly with employees.
It is recommended that HR personnel should undergo brief periods of induction within different departments to get a feel of what others are doing. Likewise, other employees should have opportunities to closely understand HR roles and responsibilities. This way neither party will feel that the other person’s job is a bed of roses.
And this would be the first step towards a more ‘loving’ attitude towards HR and the path for greater success for the organisation.
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