Organizational Culture

5 Things Human Resources is Tired of Hearing

Working in human resources can be incredibly rewarding. You get the chance to impact company culture, fight for employee benefits, and help employees develop. Since human resources isn’t directly a revenue department, management teams tend to rely on human resources to cut costs, and as a result, HR departments are often understaffed, and human resource specialists, directors, and generalists are almost always over-worked and over-stressed.

Despite this, through determination and a little insanity, you still manage to get your jobs done. Because much of the work is behind the scenes and departments are small, the rest of the company doesn’t always get a chance to see the work that is being done. That can result in some pretty inaccurate stereotypes about HR, which are simply outdated.

That’s why we’ve compiled this list of five things human resources is completely tired of hearing!

1. “Oh, you’re the one who fires people!”

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Ok, yes, sometimes the daunting task of letting someone go falls into the responsibilities of human resources.

However, that doesn’t begin to cover the responsibilities of HR professionals. On top of firing people when necessary, HR is responsible for recruiting, employee coaching, employee benefits, employee relations, payroll, interviewing, training, and much more. Trying to explain to a stranger what HR does in one sentence is a nearly impossible task because it depends so much on the company.

So why is it that most people focus on the negative? Wouldn’t it be nice if the next time you tell a new acquaintance that you work in HR, they respond with “Oh, you’re responsible for making sure my paycheck is on time and accurate! Thanks!” (Hey, we can dream!)

2. “HR only has the company’s interests in mind, not the employees.’”

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This misperception results in outcomes that vary from mildly annoying to borderline dangerous. It can be tiresome to always be looked at as the bad guy, when you’re just trying to be as fair as possible while following the law.

On the other hand, some people are so afraid of going to HR that they put up with harassment and bullying because they think HR won’t protect them. In reality, human resource departments work hard to develop cultures that result in employee satisfaction, while mediating disputes objectively and following strict guidelines.

So even though an employee might not always like a decision made by HR, those decisions are made with plenty of consideration for fairness.

3. “HR doesn’t want anyone to have fun.”

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How quickly they forget the holiday party you helped orchestrate, the company picnic, the awards ceremony, the free swag, the list goes on and on.

Human resources wants employees to have all the fun they want, while remembering that they are professionals, and should act like it. That shouldn’t be a difficult rule to stick by, but for some employees, it is. And that’s why HR exists.

4. “Be careful, HR is here!”

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You’re having a fun conversation, when someone tells a funny joke. Everyone chuckles, and then someone pipes up with this line: “Be careful, HR is here.”

First, that joke is not, and never was funny. And second, jokes are fine, unless they harass a protected class or demonstrate discrimination. And that’s never funny in the first place. So go ahead, joke around us as much as you like! We love to laugh, just like you. Just please don’t use this tired line!

5. “Can I move into HR with no experience, degree, or certifications?”

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It’s not happening. For whatever reason, people think they can keep up with the incredibly demanding work of coordinating operations while mediating conflict, filling out accident paperwork and more, without any experience. Even worse is when coworkers think they can do the job of HR because they have “some background in personnel” (they never do).

Most HR professionals have interviewed thousands of candidates, filled out hundreds of accident reports, and mediated dozens of conflicts. No, you can’t move into HR with no experience, degree, or certifications.

There you have it – a list of things that HR is tired of hearing! All said and done, your unique experience makes you incredibly knowledgeable in a ton of professional skills, including insurance benefits, interviewing skills, difficult conversations, management training, and more.

Next time you want to work on one of those skills, feel free to reach out. We’d love help. As the role of human resources changes, we’d love if the rest of the business world could catch on to what’s happening.

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Training & Development Industry Researcher | Derek researches, discusses, and writes about the impacts of employee learning on organizations and individuals. He regularly interviews L&D and HR professionals, sharing their insight on trends and best practices that help organizations create stronger training programs, and help to grow their employees and their business.