SmartRecruiters Blog

When You Google “Human Resources Is”…

Wow, well that’s ugly!

I know why some people feel this way; please allow me to break it down for you. People hate Human Resources because it’s viewed as the workplace police, enforcing rules and laws that don’t make sense to them. HR doesn’t let the people do what they want to do. And it’s not only the rank and file employees that hate HR; managers, directors and executives do too.

human resources is

Do you ever watch the American version of the comedy “The Office”?  That show chronicled the working relationships and activity of a small paper company in Scranton, PA for 9 years. One of the characters was “Toby Flenderson,” the HR manager, and no one in the Office liked him, they tolerated him but they didn’t like him. He was the guy that would not let the employees do ridiculous things while at work. Sure that’s TV, but the funniest things on TV are funny because they are true.

People can be nasty and mean. It has been said that we never grow up, we just get bigger.  Now I know you are not one of these mean or nasty people but I bet you’ve worked with a few of them. Everyone has had a co-worker with poor hygiene or body order or bad perfume/cologne. We all have heard about co-workers fighting at work, and I mean physical fights. We’ve all heard of workplace relationships and some become pretty scandalous: parking lot encounters, backroom meetings…you know what I’m talking about.

Then you have the truly sad instances of alcohol and substance abusers who can’t control their addictions so they indulge at work.

For Human Resources all those things are touchy subjects – things that happen at work and someone has to investigate, mediate and resolve.

And it’s that process of investigation and resolution that people don’t like. No one likes being told what to do.

Some people want the benefits and prestige of having a job but don’t want to do the actual work. They want the check and the healthcare but the actual work, they could do without.

To be fair corporate America is not a fair game; it’s rigged. We have all seen massive layoffs, jobs shipped oversees to cut cost while the executives pockets millions, and hire their unqualified friends and family members. This type of corporate behavior or misbehavior, creates a great deal of mistrust and disengagement. Employees don’t believe their company is loyal to them so they are not loyal to the company. And where there is no loyalty – there is no honor, which translates to employees who don’t care about anything but themselves – they become selfish and inconsiderate which spreads throughout the organization. And in the middle of it all is Human Resources.

Human Resources Is Guilty too. Now I don’t want to make any excuses for HR. I am an HR professional but I’m also a consultant, so I don’t have any ties to any corporation which means I can give it to you straight without fear of retaliation. And the truth is that HR‘s under extreme pressure from both the higher ups and the frontline employees. HR’s main purpose is to hire, fire, engage and enforce the laws of the land while keeping the company out of the courtroom. Some executives and managers don’t want to follow the laws of the land.

Listen up folks, the EEOC does not have record number of discrimination cases for nothing.  People who are in a positions of authority often times abuse that authority – HR has to stop it and tell them “No”. However the “Big Dogs” don’t want to hear “No” so they put pressure on HR to bend rules and turn a blind eye to things like, unfair promotions, nepotism, favoritism, discriminatory hiring practices and denying employees their rights under the NLRB. HR either becomes accomplices or outcasts! It’s a Catch-22; a no win situation.

So if you googled “human resources is…” you’ll see words like “Bulls**t”,”evil”, “not your friend” or “a joke” because HR enforces the rules and creates structure. Someone has to, left to their own devices many workers will try to take advantage of their benefits, co-workers, companies and bosses. HR just tries to maintain order – sort of like the police who are here to serve and protect, but we know how people feel about the police, right?

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Chris Fields

Chris Fields is an HR professional and leadership guy who blogs and dispenses great (not just good) advice at Cost of Work & ResumeCrusade.