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Why are HR sometimes seen as the enemy?

I do not want to believe that most people hate HR, that they fear HR people. I believe that my job is to help everyone and to build environments where people can be the best that they can be.

In many organisations the role of HR is to keep the company out of court. The role of HR is to keep the company from getting sued, by its own employees! This is such a sad an uninspiring reason to come to work? Is this a regular agenda point for the board? Not in my experience.

Waves of good and bad energy circulate in every organisation, almost on repeat.

All we have to do is pay attention to them. It easy to do that, we can hardly help it! We are human and as such we know when the energy around is positive and when it is negative. We can feel it, all we need to do is start telling the truth about that.

Here are ten reasons people hate HR. None of them are inevitable or built into the HR function. Not one of them is an intractable problem. As HR people we can start to address these issues today. We must step out of the traditional HR box and bring ourselves fully to the role, with humour, warmth and honestly all of our quirks. We have to do HR our own way!

10 Reasons People believe they hate HR

  1. HR people seem to take the company’s side in any interaction, never the employee’s side.
  2. HR people seem to want to get employees in trouble for tiny infractions.
  3. HR people are not viewed as trustworthy, even though they say, “Tell me what’s on your mind!”
  4. HR people stand idly by while incompetent and abusive supervisors get promoted and mistreat employees.
  5. HR people often “know HR” but do not know anything about the business they work for.
  6. HR people often spout policy instead of actively getting involved to remove roadblocks their employees face.
  7. HR people are seen as political and more concerned with their own place in the company’s pecking order than with the welfare of the team.
  8. HR people talk more about policies, benefits and other announcements than they talk about culture, fear, trust, conflict or any of the million human issues that arise in every organization.
  9. HR people often have trouble seeing the “human side” of any issue, from a time-off request to a variation in a pay-grade or a hiring issue, focusing instead on keeping every process uniform and exception-free.
  10. HR people, who can be Ministers of Culture in their organisations, are too often seen as culture-killers instead!

As an employee that has had bad experiences with HR in your company, own the next step. Do not wait for the next “confidential” employee survey to throw shade on us in HR. Bring your whole self to work to and interact with HR people when you don’t have a problem. You can honour the human side of everyone you work with.

We all have the tendency to divide up the world into two groups: Us and them. It is easy to make HR people the enemy. However if you take the opposite view and assume that the HR folks are doing their best.

I have heard all of the above have at one time or another, and from individuals across all levels of organisations. Trust is the key to changing perception, leading and evidencing a cultural that sets ambitious goals and then hires and engages brilliant people to achieve them and empowering those individuals to do their job – sound easy right!

Our world is ever changing and employers need something special to survive.

We in HR have a big job to do, but we cannot do it alone we need to get together to acknowledge and celebrate the critical cultural role that empowered and switched-on HR people fill!

Billiejo Kay

HR Consultant

20+ years industry experience
| Sharing HR knowledge in a language that works for SME's |
| Commercially focused HR generalist who understands the value of people |

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