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Susan M. Heathfield

Does Everybody Hate HR?

By July 14, 2007

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I'd like to encourage you to continue the discussion in "comments" below.

One of my current clients is a non-profit, religious organization. They are thinking about making the transition from being a group of employees who consider themselves to be a "family" to an organization that recognizes that they are now big enough and sophisticated enough to - maybe - identify themselves as a business. With over forty full-time employees and a hundred plus part-timers in schools and religious education, I think it's time. This is a tough transition and I have participated in it with several organizations in the past.

When a company is small, and feels more like family, employees know each other fairly intimately. They are a small group who work closely together and sit closely together. So, issues like communication and the goals of coworkers rarely come into question. A particular camaraderie and trust develops and people help each other out.

As Organizations Grow

The goal, as the organization transforms itself for the good of its employees and members, is not to lose the good as you usher in the new. And, long term people who savored the "family" environment have a tough time transitioning to the new business environment, for all of the right reasons: desire to serve members, wanting to trust their coworkers, and the desire to keep the long term community they love. And, some wrong reasons exist such as fear of change and the unknown.

As I talked with employees this week, I found a few common threads in the discussion. One was the need for an HR manager or director to organize hiring employees, administer the offices, create consistent policies, and implement organization development initiatives and training. You know the drill, they want a person to do everything an HR Director does to add value in an organization including being a person to whom employees can bring concerns and woes.

Driving to lunch with a manager, I supported the employee view about the need for HR support. The response was interesting: "Do they 'really' want an HR Director? They should be careful what they wish for. After all, everybody hates HR." The comment reminded me that I had blogged an earlier article from Fast Company about why people hate HR. I've heard this view before, in fact, many times. Isn't this amazing? Why do you think so many people hate HR? (Please respond in "comments" below.)

Image © Nicholas Monu

Comments
July 14, 2007 at 4:30 pm
(1) George Lenard says:

I see this as a variation of “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”

It takes employees at an organization without any formalized HR, like the ones you describe working with, to appreciate what HR contributes.

Even the “enforcer” function that many employees detest is an important one, helping ensure fair and consistent treatment, us well as very important legal compliance.

From my employment-lawyer perspective, I often see organizations like the one you describe that have grown well past “family-sized” without hiring anyone with HR training or experience. Costly legal mistakes are much more likely in such situations, IMHO.

July 14, 2007 at 7:34 pm
(2) Zacharia Mathews says:

HR was a confined role till recently and seemed to be hostile to the employees by projecting an image that they should work in seclusion and with high level confidentiality. This concept has changed with the change in the management concept wherein HR plays an active role with other Departments to realize the business objectives. Having said so, HR is a proactive wing of the Organization that helps ensure a steady work-force by:
a) enhancing work sills (through continuous education, job training)
b) identifying work conflicts and neutralizing it at the seed level
c) encouraging group efforts
d) ensuring career progression
This helped HR co-factor with the Department Managers in order not to penalize the employees through biased decisions. Active HR role presents two fold benefit: in identifying the potential (analyzing the success factors) of the employees to gear them up for higher productivity and secondly motivating poor performers (through counseling, training as well as identifying what fails them in the job) to improve their performance.

“Change” is inevitable in the Organizations because of the need to embrace the management philosophy or economic factors. Organizations that realize this inevitability will only stay upfront and the role of HR is crucial to help them stay afloat in terms of competitiveness. It is now widely accepted that Department Managers need to be educated about the HR abstracts (human relations, compassion, motivation and so on) because lack of people skills is largely the contributory factor for an employee failing in the job. These explains why HR is a hate-wing of the Organization because the employee’s fate hangs largely on his Supervisor alone, and HR acts a post office to execute his orders – either hang him or prelude him. Here comes the importance of HR function, ever the more. Re-focusing the shift of employee performance and anchoring it in HR in coordination with the Department Managers is the starting point. HR is in fact decorating the role of a Counselor to the employee and of an advisor to the Departments of the Organization. HR thus become a ally to the employee and a benefactor to other Departments.
HR Manager

July 14, 2007 at 8:04 pm
(3) Spencer Blaker says:

I believe in many ways Fast Company nailed it.

The attitudes of many HR employees do not always match up to the teams they are in place to support. Furthermore, (I have recently discovered)HR is notoriously unresponsive to individuals or organizations that are not “on the inside”. Said differently, returning telephone calls and simply following up on commitments are nothing more than common courtesy and professionalism.

Unfortunately, these courtesies are often not extended by the hand of HR.
Perhaps some of the “attitude” may be due to the lack of financial and strategic autonomy afforded to the HR department by many organizations. More of us should consider HR to be a strategic partner Vs a cost center intended to perform the role of corporate police. In order to do so however some drastic change in attitude needs to occur. The first step of the process could be to adopt an attitude of servant leadership and “how can I help you” attitude.

Finally, the HR department and staffing are often the first exposure many outsiders have to an organization. In my professional opinion, we need to do a much better job in acting as goodwill ambassadors to the outside world. Only then can we capitalize on all the external resources and opportunities that so often fall by the wayside.

July 15, 2007 at 1:45 am
(4) Kimberly says:

I think people are just afraid of HR. HR has a “bad rap” because they are often the ones that companies rely upon, as opposed to actual managers, to do the difficult tasks of write-ups, performance evaluations, and firings. People become afraid of seeing HR individuals around because they generally feel that someone must “be in trouble.” One of our HR department individuals is known throughout the company as “the grim reaper”. People fear what they don’t know, including the confidential information that resulted in an employee’s termination or other negative act.

July 15, 2007 at 3:42 am
(5) amr adel says:

yeah i think that HR department is the most odious department in the company because employees think that HR staff treat them lilke a soldiers .
i agree whith all brothers who write above .

July 15, 2007 at 4:11 am
(6) hesamodin says:

I think that HR manager needs some characteristics in addition of his study and knowledge about that interesting field. HR manager should be accepted man in the company that every body could trust him and know him as one of his/her friend.
So it is better to become friend with all the personnel and touch their work and situation closely. In this way he can help them really. HR manager must have stronger relationships with the worker of the company. And pay more attention to their request and benefits. But I believe that most of HR manger pay more attention to the owner of the company and try to make stronger relationship with them.

July 15, 2007 at 5:56 am
(7) allura says:

HR is paid by management, not employees. Consequently, the department does not act as an employee’s advocate; they are simply a tool of management. The heartbreaking part is that younger, more naive employees turn to HR with problems, usually in confidence, and HR turns around and shares that personal information with management, putting the employee at a further disasdvantage. In too many cases HR is the cruelest, most deceptive department in a company and the least trustworthy.

July 15, 2007 at 7:43 am
(8) Rashid says:

The track record of young and inexperience HR personnel have been the bane of the discipline. However, well trained and experienced HR staff have done wonderful jobs that have been appreciated by employees.

The HR function deals with an important resource of organizations, a resource that engender productivity and growth. Hence, the engagement of expert HR personnel will greatly reduce this perception.

July 15, 2007 at 9:22 am
(9) Bilal says:

why people hate HR department and its staff. from my observations in many of jordanian companies, there is no HR professionals, there is a lack of modern HR skills.
in my countries this veiw is prevalent, simply because our management takes the HR roles as a traditional “employees affair”.

i always referring any HR problem to the management of an organization

thanks alot to Dr. Susan for her contributions in HRM.

July 15, 2007 at 9:24 am
(10) Joy says:

The HR dept. represents the company, period. Younger inexperienced employees don’t know that. When there is some sort of a real or percieved problem that they can’t or don’t work out with their supervisor, the first thing they do is go to HR. Their hopes of finding a sympathetic ear are quashed quickly and they are left with a bitter taste.

Experience quickly tells the employee that HR is not on the employees’ side and it is not even near neutral, no matter how nice they are in an initial grievance situation.

In a hiring situation, the first piece of advice anyone gets is to “get around the HR person”. This is because if you are good in your field, it is more likely in for instance say, finance, that should you be able to get a word in with a person who actually understands finance you have more of a chance of being interviewed and selected.

Having said all these negative things HR performs many thankless and necessary functions that employees are unaware of. They are the tool of management. Additionally the field seems to attract people hungry for power and those who sometimes abuse it.

July 15, 2007 at 7:42 pm
(11) Dee says:

As an HR professional for the last 20 years, I have a few observations to make on why “everyone hates HR”. I believe the new HR professional goes into the field trying to help people. Over years of experience, they realize they can’t affect much, are caught in the middle, given all the dirty tasks to do (like terminations, warnings, etc) because management doesn’t want to do them. Add to this the tedious, time consuming whining from employees. I was so burnt out by the whining that I decided to become a Consultant so I can affect change at higher levels of a corporation.

I believe the HR dept has made huge strides in being a strategic player at the table and rightly so, but it depends on the company.

Employees are a company’s greatest asset and many managers don’t see it that way – that they should be happy to have a job and forget this “servant leadership” idea. I happen to believe in the servant leadership idea and have acted as such, but it will eventually wear you out if employees just come in to gripe.
That’s my 2 cents!

July 16, 2007 at 2:19 am
(12) Kusum Salgado says:

It is very unfortunate that HR has got this negative image;probably due to the inheritance from the days of “Personnel Management”, where the function was seen as “policing, insensitive, and distant” from employees. I believe this cannot be helped, as, before PM was christened with “HR” this had been true to a great extent. But now every thing has changed, and in today’s competitive world, HR has to play a crucial and enhanced role in aligning the organization’s goals with the aspirations of the people.

July 16, 2007 at 3:40 am
(13) Julia McIntyre says:

The HR Department reflects the one department in the Company that will not bend the rules. That said, consistency and fairness is only regarded as such by model employees and not employees who have a histroy of disciplinary issues. As these employees have an issue with HR and feel they they are ‘against’ them they will make this known. It is unfortunate also that Managers are reluctant to discipline their staff and take the necessary steps to correct poor performance or minor disciplinary issues that crop from up day to day, as they want to be seen as ‘on their teams side’. As HR has to step in and be the one to enforce procedure, discipline etc they are automoatically seen in a negative light.
Another factor which is not commonly thought of is that due to the strategic and overall function HR plays in each department – HR Managers interact with all staff closely, but by the same token cannot have the luxury of getting ‘too close’ with certain people (ie: having a best friend at work) as they may have to discipline that person over time and should the discipline not be viewed as appropriate they could be viewed as being biased, not to mention having seemed to have ‘stabbed a friend in the back’to the person and other employees who will be wary of getting close to HR. For this reason HR staff will always be alone in an organisation – it is a lonely profession we have chosen, but someone has to do it! Not matter how much we enjoy the interaction and company of fellow staff members, we have to keep our professional distance, such people keeping their distance are automatically viewed as ‘dubious’ – this even stems from school days!
We all know how valuable HR is to an organisation, but to answer the question posed that is my view.

July 16, 2007 at 3:52 am
(14) Natalie says:

Basically,the HR departments seek to satisfy the needs of employees and motivate them to give of their best and to achieve that, rewards are sometimes linked to performance but human as we are, we still want to be rewarded even when our performance does not much up, so then the HR Manager or director becomes the ‘Bad Guy’ who is being unfair.

Again,What most employees fail to admit or realise is that most decisions taken at HR stems from the top management strategic decisions.

July 16, 2007 at 9:26 am
(15) Laura says:

HR is the business/adult equivalent of the principal’s office to many employees. When you are called or sent there, it is almost never a positive thing. HR professionals will do well to be aware of this and make a conscious, serious effort to rub elbows with their people on a regular basis. I know an HR Director who makes it her job to know her employees by name and to spend time with them, e.g. taking them to lunch on birthdays or employment anniversaries, getting out of her office to visit people at their desks, having department meetings just to find out what’s up, not to deliver news a la “Dilbert.” She also answers her own phone and has her office door open as much as possible. Yes, there are a lot of distractions, but for the most part the employees have learned to respect her time and to value her accessibility. Unfortunately, in my experience my friend is pretty darn rare. She has an M.A. in psychology, not business, which may make a world of difference. MBAs are rife in the business world and their people skills can be a little limited.

July 16, 2007 at 10:03 am
(16) Fay Barrett says:

Employees hate HR because they have expectations that HR should support their issues and this is not always visible to them. They believe that when they have a quarrel (an issue)with the management, it should be HR’s role to give them support whether or not they are in the wrong. HR professionals are also paid by the organization and their role is dual – to put in place policies and procedures which are for the good of the employees and which also put restraints on a lot of poor management of human resource and also to ensure that employees give to the fullest extent the returns which the employers expect of them.
There is really no need for animosity between HR and workers as long as HR professionals know and practice what is expected of them by employers and employees alike – for the good of both parties. That’s why HR practices mediation, counselling, conflict resolution etc.

July 16, 2007 at 10:16 am
(17) Iperalta says:

Unfortuantely HR has always been used in the workforce as the scapegoat for everyone. From employees to owners. We are the disciplinarians, the strickt parents, the rule makers, and never give enough credit. Its just the way it is.
TO be looked at as an strategic partner would be the first big step into changing the “bad rap” we have gotten. The other would be that the people we work for actually respect what we do and appreciate it. Its almost like a parent whose authority is never respected by the other, will never be respected by the children they raise. this is because that is what the child sees and has seen all of his/her life.

July 17, 2007 at 5:13 am
(18) Vinod Yadav says:

Yes, it’s true that people perception towards HR is negative.
In some sense we have to reach to employees on what we do & are doing for them; untill & unless they are not aware of our stragic work they might not see us as their strategic partners but someone who is only responsible for maintaining company values (or discilpilne)…

July 17, 2007 at 8:58 am
(19) Terry Harvey says:

It has been my experience that once “promoted” from the ranks during transition that some people look at themselves as newly “powerful” and this is what creates the problem within the organization. I have had HR people without interpersonal skills, others with “power” syndrome, some who absolutely play favorits and let their friends get away with anything and yet another one who questioned incessantly additional hours worked when all had been worked out with the CFO and the information was passed to her. It was like the money was coming out of her personal checking account.

These are just some of the reasons why I think HR personnel are not the most loved. Oh, also, HR is a fancy name for “do nothings.”

July 17, 2007 at 11:35 am
(20) Fwalker says:

Image and perception are everything. Often, HR has the same persona as the external auditor or the Grim Reaper. In many cases, being the auditor or Grim Reaper is what HR does, we hire, fire, help or conduct disciplinary actions, write and maintain policy, etc. HR is the front (wo)man for any company and often the first to be thrown under the bus – even when it is fully engaged in a strategic partnership! What is of vital importantance is how HR does the dirty work and how the members of that department carry themselves.

July 17, 2007 at 1:54 pm
(21) Susan T says:

HR has historically been seen as the equivalent to the “Principal’s office” ….whenever you were in trouble you went to see HR. Trying to disspell this myth has been my greatest challenge. I talk to people at all levels, call them into my office to chat, offer praise, go out to their work site and let them see me as a person with a job to do. My job just happens to be HR and I take advantage of these opportunities to reach out to educate them as to what my role is all about.

It’s management, who use my position as as threat…the enforcer or the “Principal’s office”….that I have difficulty with. Until managers become leaders and start accepting responsibility for their role and all it involves, HR will always be used by them as the bad guys.

By educating the next level who may eventually be the leaders of the future to understand and accept my role for what it is, that’s the only way to change the bad rap we have.

July 17, 2007 at 3:09 pm
(22) Raymond A. Presley, SPHR says:

I could not refrain from commenting on this posting.

The article “Why We Hate HR” was exactly right then and it still is today. While I think the author was more blunt than most writers he backed up his assertions with fact and historical findings.

The problems relating to the perception of HR in today’s world are not really hard to figure out. It is simple. Business today expects HR to be a business partner, contributing to the company or organization’s overall effectiveness or profit. Anything less done by HR is precisely why the field suffers with an identity crisis.

Sadly, some major organizations that “promote” HR (such as SHRM) are, in fact, doing the profession a great disservice because they just don’t get it when it comes to what HR should be about today! This is also true of many in the academic community who write all these books about HR and a lot of them have never worked a single day out in the field at any level! It is almost laughable.

With that said, the so called “bad image” of HR will continue if and until the entire HR community comes to realize the true and proper role HR should be performing. I am not saying that we do away with the people aspects..that would be an absurdity. Are not people still a company or organization’s greatest assest. It is how THAT asset is managed and utilized that separates real HR people from those whose idea of HR is to plan picnics, be administrative, be the “watchdog” company police and etc.
It is just pure folly to even think these things are on any real list of good HR practices!

HR in 2007 is a crossroads. Where is the leadership going to come from that brings HR into the executive suites of most organizations? I don’t know. But I do know, from what I read and see, we are woefully lacking in that arena.

Whether we like it or not, if HR is to ever find its place at the “proverbial table”, it won’t be because of factors discussed above or perceptions of hating HR for a any number of reasons. It will be because a lot of the people who supposely are influencing HR and where it is going are actually do the profession more harm than can be repaired.

In summary, if you are in HR and you are practicing HR other than from a business mindset you are missing the boat too. All of this hogwash about being “strategic” etc. is that-hogwash. Nice sounding wording but no substance!
That is a for instance. Talk with any 6 HR people and not any 2 of them even agree on just what that means! I know. I have done just that.

I have been in HR for over 26 years. It concerns me immensely where we are, how we got here, and where we are going. I wished I could be more optimistic but I deal with real world. I wished more HR people at all levels did the same, especially the ones who supposely know what is best for HR. I truly don’t think the majority get it yet or have a clue!

July 17, 2007 at 5:53 pm
(23) Joyce says:

Liking people is an important part of being HR, but it is not the primary function of being HR. I am one of those HR folks. I find many of the comments regarding how some perceived HR to be such. However, that does not make the perception true. I do not believe the problem is that HR does not want to be a part of the business process. I believe it is because HR is never invited to participate on a level footing with other departments. Before you label HR – here’s some food for thought.

*Most companies, especially CEO’s, haven’t a clue how to value and use their HR department.
*Most HR departments are not doing the hires in actuality. You know how the network and “old boys system” works.
*Hiring decisions are made before the first true application is processed.
*HR thinking business, executing the strategic plan of the company, part of the mission & vision and looked upon as a viable contributor – when was the last time your HR person was allowed to pull a chair up to the table – really pull a chair up to the table.
*“Power attraction, power syndrome” give it a rest. The power that HR has is given freely by the company’s upper level administration that is unwilling and incapable of confronting and making personnel decisions of staff – please. This is what undermines HR.
*When was the last time you valued the competencies of your HR area and asked “What’s going on out there? What do we need? Where do we need to go? What trends do you see that is or will impact us? Or, better yet, when was the last time you listened to what your HR department was offering?

One final comment, as far as not being the sharpest tack in the box – look around. There are some dull tacks pulling up to the table. Some hired by the HR department by way of the network. If you truly want to understand and value HR (and not just hate us) – look at HR in the service industry. The service industry understands including and valuing HR in their operations. HR is in the house, at the table, and assisting and making decisions and business type contributions. One other thing, HR having no business sense – find out what your HR folks are doing outside of work. You may be surprise how sharp the tacks really are.

July 18, 2007 at 2:02 am
(24) Mahbubur Rahman says:

Think of a situation, one staff is late everyday his supervisor is not looking into it, HR at one point bring the issue at Dept. Heads attention, HOD advise staffs and supervisor not to do this. 1/2 days situation goes well again it happens, this time HR Dept called him give counseling. It works for few days again it happens…..” No staff in the organization likes to be monitored, do not like his supervisor to be informed about his weakness, do not like to be counseled or punished. My point is, it is the job nature of HR department that makes them being hated.

July 18, 2007 at 3:42 pm
(25) Judy Rene says:

I am surprised at this expressed negative attitude towards HR. With so much emphasis now on Strategic HR,one would have thought that the importance of HR to any organization would have resulted in an improved image. HR needs to wake up and organizations need to stop paying lip service to HR and give due importance, recognition and authority to HR on par with Finance. Hopefully things will change for the better, I am very optimistic because people are the most important resource of an organization, jump high or jump low. Even if it is outsourced – it is here to stay. Wake up HR, put heads together, take action, walk the talk!

March 21, 2011 at 8:20 am
(26) jane francais says:

i think we really ve to take action to be recognise and given the same authority and finance with other departmt.pple management is a serious and delicate issue. supervisiors/heads should also be part of enforcement of policies and not leave all for hr which tags them as the bad guy who wants them out of job.

July 19, 2007 at 11:46 am
(27) Fay Barrett says:

One of the greatest problems I encounter as an HR professional is that the other managers do not take the responsibility of exercising discipline over their staff. Further, if the staff has a grievance the managers feel that HR has to deal with it; if the staff is often late for work, if there is an altercation with another employee, or whatever the problem the managers in my organization “send them to the HR Manager”. Invariably such employees come to HR already riles up with a negative and sometimes threatening attitude. The HR Manager then becomes an ogre who wants to rob employees of whatever rights and privileges they have in the organization.
How can we dispel such negative perception? How can we lower the ‘hate vibes’?
Start by dealing fairly with all categories of employees. Perhaps the pattern exhibited by Laura’s HR friend could be adopted. Try locking on to the grapevine and learn what the employees would like to have HR do for them.
Let’s do our best in reducing this hostility towards HR. If the CEOs won’t help us we have to help ourselves and the other employees too.

July 19, 2007 at 11:49 am
(28) SE says:

I have been in HR for many years in many different organizations. HR is only as good as the people on the HR staff. They may or may not be effective, depending on their own abilities, together with the philosoply of mgmt. and how mgmt. wants HR to function.

The comments above that I find most disturbing are the ones that relay how people have gone to HR and then HR has violated their trust and confidence.

No HR person who has any integrity and wants to maintain any credibility will do that. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen — I know it does. But good HR people will tell the employee coming to them what they may be required to disclose and what they can keep confidential. And if they’ve committed to keeping something confidential they had better honor that. But of course, when that confidentiality is broken, it’s easy to see how the betrayed person will then hate the HR rep.

For me, the other irritating issue that causes people to hate HR is when the HR person is overly rigid, and blindly adheres to a policy or law without analyzing the situation to see how they can possibly work things out. I’m afraid this happens all too often also. In those cases mgmt. sees HR as an obstacle to meeting their goals. Employees will view HR as mindless, bureaucratic robots. The rigidity is a no-win situation for everyone. But it puts HR in a very tough situation. Because being flexible can satisfy one party, while creating a perception of unfair favoritism or discrimination.

Being an HR mgr. is a very difficult position under the best of circumstances. My boss has often told me if he had my job, he would slash his wrists.

July 19, 2007 at 10:44 pm
(29) Anita says:

Why do people hate HR – HR departments are there to support the company and management not the employees. A local paper quoted the HR Manager of my organization saying “We do not have a policy about supervisors dating their employees because the employee may be HOT”. The employees of the organization were so embarressed and many were ashamed of their employer. When a HR Manager makes comments such as this you can only guess how the employees are treated. This same organization with the same HR Manager sided with management when an employee complained and had written documentation to support their claims. Management makes comments such as you are on to many medications, I am going to fire all you women and hire men, I like looking at you, etc. When HR is made aware they may talk to management but nothing really changes except with more punishment being dished out to the person that complained. When HR allows and encourages situations like this to exist it is no shock that HR is hated by employees. I love my work and would not stay if I could do the same work elsewhere in my area. I was employed years ago with an opganization that had a panel who heard complaints ftom emloyees. Some complaints were very serious but others were minor. This panel would hear the complaint, research and investigate. If any futher action was needed the panel would turn over the information to HR. HR would then take the appropriate action and report back to the panel on the decisions that were made. This concept worked very well because the panel was not management and would have a voice for the employee. Many times the employees had to accept that their complaint was not warrented but they were also thankful that the issue had been reviewed wiyh non-management employees. The panel was required to to keep compliants to themselves and resolve the issue so that the company and employees could move forward.

HR should really train with all levels of management and staff to teach all accepted professional behavior. HR should also have to answer to the employees and management involved in issues.

July 21, 2007 at 12:55 pm
(30) Pam says:

I am the HR Manager of a government contracting company. The majority of my employees are in VA, quite a few are in PA, and some are scattered about the country. We employee less than 20 people at headquarters in OH. I started in September and am surprised at some of the comments regarding this article.

We brought on about 50 new employees the month I began. From the beginning I had positive comments and emails. It appears that previous HR personnel took a week or so to answer emails. Everything was strictly business. No one trusted the HR Department.

I believe that employees have the wrong perception of HR, however that can be changed. I feel as though I am a mediator between upper management and the employees. That’s fine with me. First and foremost, I am for the company. If the company isn’t strong, no one will hve a job. But I stand up for the rights of the employees as well. Sometimes it works out their way. Sometimes it doesn’t. But I tried. The employees respect me for that. (Well, most of them. HR will always have those who do hate them.)

I try to treat everyone with the respect that I would like returned to me. I answer emails and questions as soon as possible – 98% of the time its the same day. It’s ok to get a little silly. We are all human and I am no better than the lowest paid position in the company. We just have different jobs.

When someone needs to be reprimanded, it can be done respectfully. An employee knows if he has been lack, or done something against company policy, etc. There are a few exceptions, but most of those that I have written up or even terminated have understood. They weren’t happy. But they knew that they had caused the situation – no one else.

I love my employees and my job. Although there are only 150+ in our company and we are scattered across the country, it is possible to have a positive relationship. I make the effort to communicate as often as possible. It shows. When I ask them to do something special – whether its read and fill out a form or take a survey or give me an honest opinion of something, I get almost 100% response.

People at HQ ask me how I do it. Its no secret. I’m being a Human Resources Representitive.

July 25, 2007 at 9:49 am
(31) Lea says:

In my first career as a newspaper journalist, my only contact with HR came through employee events (which were fun), training (we had great trainers), and late in my career, a disciplinary meeting where the HR person cut off the meeting immediately after I requested to have a union rep in there with me. At a follow-up meeting, where I had my union rep with me, the HR person tried to tell me that the meeting had been over when I made my request. I told her that the meeting hadn’t been over — at that point, I had a lot of questions to ask and I had wanted my union rep with me while I asked them. This one instance of HR stupidity completely colored my view of HR at that particular newspaper. After that, I wanted nothing to do with the generalists who kept getting hired as if there was a revolving door on the department.

It’s been 18 months since I left newspapers, and three months ago I changed careers and entered HR myself. My philosophy is that I can put my efforts toward making HR the place where employees are heard. Luckily, I found a position in a company where people like HR for the most part. And I’ll always remember how one stupid move on my part could make someone hate the entire department.

July 26, 2007 at 10:24 am
(32) Tom says:

I have been in HR a long time. I even had the old title Personnel Manager. I have worked in Companies with and without Unions. I always say I could write a book on the Life of a Human Resource Manager. Although with all the comments I am reading it might not sell that well. Unfortunately HR does get a bad rap. How many hear, Oh you’re in HR so you hire and fire. Yea that is all I do. Or, I wouldn’t want your job for anything. That really builds the self esteem. Realistically, I believe in HR it is the one department that needs to keep fighting that uphill battle to show that it is a strategic partner in the organization. You need to be trustworthy, confident, creative, persuasive, and have so many other attributes. Bottom line in most cases I have found that you need to blaze your own trail, because there usually is no one else in the organization that understands or cares to understand the HR role(s). Yes HR might not get any Christmas Cards from anyone, but I thind that as an HR Manager you have to believe in yourself and overcome all the negativity and portray the benefits that a good HR group can do for a Company. You have to be your own salesman. That being said it is much easier said than done. I have seen respect for all departments over the years. In many cases the patients are running the asylum.

June 24, 2008 at 10:04 am
(33) Jim Siefken says:

From what I have seen HR is a misnomer and misintrepted by most people. Employees believe HR is there to help them with employement issues. My experience is that HR is policy inforcement entity, especially in government. It seems to be the primary task of HR to enforce the companies policies and regulations. There has not a real consentrated effort to have HR departments at the forefront of developing any process that includes employees and management to benefit the organization as a whole. There are exceptions to this but I believe they are fewer than the other

June 24, 2008 at 10:06 am
(34) Bob D. says:

I wholeheartedly agree with the writer of comment #7, as this is exactly the experience I had over 21 years with my last employer. HR was absolutely no help to the employee and issues shared privately made their way to senior management. I will never trust an HR rep again.

June 24, 2008 at 11:38 am
(35) Ellen says:

As a manager I have not had many great expereinces with HR. I work at a large company that outsourced its first tier HR support. It is difficult to express urgency and concern to someone who seems disconneted and uncaring. I have to call and escalate simple matters because “that is the process”. That would be fine if it worked but as you can guess it does not. My employees go through the same frustrating experience with simple requests. So when the answer is “call HR” they are hesitant and may decide not to persue the request. I look at it this way if I asked my employee to complete small tasks and they continously underdelivered would I trust them with a large project…no. In my opinion “hate” is a strong word. I don’t trust HR and as a manager I do not feel supported.

June 24, 2008 at 12:39 pm
(36) Rebecca says:

I have been in HR forever and seeking to leave the field permanently for a new venture. Why do people hate HR? For the most part most HR people wouldn’t know their head from their elbow. Most HR professionals I have met during the course of my career have never taken the time to really familiarize themselves with the most basic of employment laws and really couldn’t care less about employee morale. I have said for many years HR protects a company by protecting its employees. It’s a dual role. Unfortunately, many believe I work for the company and the company comes first and to heck with the employees. OR for those of us who truly understand the true role of HR you have that horrible boss or CEO who expects you to work specifically for the benefit of the corporation and to heck with the employees who can be fired and lets just replace him/her. I do not know what my next career move will be since this is all I know for close to 15 years, but it certainly will not be HR if I can help it.

June 26, 2008 at 11:58 pm
(37) satinder says:

whatever the changes hr peoples wants to bring in the organisations for ithe growth and development of the employees &organisation, other peoples feel as they are free peoples who dont have any work to do except thinking about changes . especially in the garment sector production peoples feel that hr will shut down the organisation one day.

February 16, 2009 at 2:30 am
(38) Kevin says:

Because they’re all incompetent and won’t hire the best people for the jobs.

They hold back our dreams!

That is why we hate HR.

Never did any HR stiff offer me an opportunity in my life. Only managers and owners have ever offered me any job.

HR is dead! Long live HR!

May 7, 2009 at 1:06 am
(39) Joshua says:

I’ve never had a positive interaction with Human Resources.

It starts with annoyance. In the technology field, HR is the department that stays firmly mired in the 80s with everything on paper, using outmoded forms, usually with false information and always requiring signature after signature for things which are unlawful, overreaching, counterfactual or frivolous.

It reaches into unease. HR staff feel the need to put a ‘friendly face’ on all interactions, empathising and finding common ground with employee concerns. However, they do not work with other employees on a regular basis, so they’re empathetic strangers. It rings false, and no bond can be established on this basis.

But it’s much worse than that. Human Resources always sides with corporate interests. If there’s a legal concern, such as a legitimate harassment situation, Humarn Resources will act as a mock support system for the involved parties, but ultimately act to protect the organization from perceived threats which may never be released at the expense of providing a healing resolution for anyone. It can be even worse, where the interest of the employee are simply snubbed entirely for bureaucratic reasons. Human Resources claims to be the advocate of employees, wanting to nourish and invest in them, but they have no structural accountability to the employees, so it’s all a sham.

Lastly Human Resources typically oversees the sham of “performance reviews” which try to bottle useful feedback into stilted low-utility meetings that happen quarterly. In healthy organizations these systems actually work counter to healthy communication. They stifle feedback on areas for improvement, by channelling communication into a disciplinarian session instead of food for thought and growth.

In short HR is symptomatic of what is unhealthy in american business culture.

May 15, 2011 at 3:59 am
(40) dungeon master says:

Thank you. Hr people need to realize the so called underling employees who they accuse of incessant complaining pay their salaries not the idiot CEO and his lackey subordinates. Why are Hr people so arrogant. Do they all go to the same school. It sure turns out a bunch of cookie cutter nobodies who think they serve a useful role in society.

May 13, 2009 at 9:04 pm
(41) Francisco says:

Sure, no one knows why exactly they want to be HR directors but the money always sounds very good. Social science is not as easy to grasp as the typical science hence the it is easy to understand people. Being an HR director means that you a people a people person and that every day you get up, there is always something good needed to be implemented, a smile always helps, but as we know honey moons last very little and soon people grow tired of each other, moreover; we get to know who people really are, and HR slowly becomes a prosecutor rather than a facilitator, and program focused organization; it moreover carries on to the aspect of business first people always, profit now. When will HR truly be about people and true care for them? the answer is: when we all learn to get along and define our roles respecting others’.

VR

Francisco

July 11, 2009 at 1:39 am
(42) Bhavesh Rathod says:

Ya every body in the world with Negative thinking will HATE people with authority.
Sometimes Employees don’t Understand HR as Bridge between employee & employer but they thinks him as agent of Employer so they tend to think against him……

December 16, 2009 at 1:40 pm
(43) Elise T says:

I don’t hate the actual people of HR, just what they represent. I had a friend that was in HR and I finally stopped hanging out with her because of the stories that she told. She got hired with a stupidly big salary with a huge sign on bonus of 40K, when the company was falling, it already had layoffs. She came in immediately and did more lay offs. Then she got another bonus. Every time she had to perform the duties of her job. she got another bonuse.

I have had to lay off people but never would I accept a bonus on the hardship of others. I worked for a company once that was having hard times. I was a dept. head. The company offered me a raise but not the people worked for me because they said there was not enough to give to employees. I worked it out with the company to share my raise with the people that worked sooo hard for me. They did not understand my attitude of wanted to share this raise with the employees but I told them I could not do as good a job as I did without them. I have worked for 20 years now and have not met any HR people half as good as they think they are. The ones I have met are self-righteous, pompous and snobbish. They lay people off and then get bonuses for it. All in the name of change and betterment of company. Half the time they fill those same positions with “their friends” They do not give credit to those that have worked for the company for many years that helped make the company big enough for the so call need of HR. They travel in company jets to go to seminars and then lay off more employees due to decrease in business. But that does not stop their travel and entertainment or raises for themselves and executives. I was recently laid off from a small company of <15 employees. We had no HR just accounting people. I found them to work harder for the employees and company that any "trained" HR person. I have spent hours filling out applications online for companies with HR departments. Each application takes hours, some dont even request my resume but most do allow to download them. I spend all my time inputting my information into the HR data base so all they have to do is look on a data base list of applicants. HR puts to much emphasis on just the facts of the application and resume. Some of my best employees are the ones that had not the best resume. Most excellent resumes are done by paid resume writers. So what in the world can that tell you about the person applying for the job since it is written by others. HR people say it reflects the applicant but most times the resume does not do a good job of that. Now I am hearing that HR wants me to rewrite my resume and cover letter both to match the needs of that particular company. Well if I am doing that then what does that leave for the HR department to do. Most resumes contain a good amount of overstatement as to want the applicant can do. They talk a big game and play the game poorly once hired. HR over the years has so streamlined the hiring process that it leaves no room for individual personality nor any HR person thinking outside the box of what they want for the position. I swear HR gets paid, just as lawyers must, by the word of the forms they create. HR has made it such a business of hiring, firing and procedures that HR doesnt get the business of the business they work. If you make calls to HR they bounce you around that is if you are lucky to actually talk to an HR person because most of the time the person answering the phones screen so much that you never talk to the person you need. I really dislike what HR has become. I think the Personel Managers of the older days use to have a much better finger on the pulse of the business and what it needs as employees.

April 30, 2010 at 10:56 am
(44) David says:

My complaint about the HR Department is that they don’t recognize talent– When I have open positions they send me horrible CVs of candidates with mail-order/online degrees. I will post a vacancy for a software programmer and they will send me CVs of people who have 5 years of experience hooking up computers to printers or answering help desk calls. In the few cases where I see a CV that makes my heart race (Ivy league education, blue chip Fortune 500 experience) HR is always telling me that I can’t hire the person… “The position says 3 years experience, and your candidate only has 2 years experience!” My experience is that HR is filled with automatons who went to community college and don’t like to rock the boat. They are intimidated by candidates with top credentials and often contribute to employee relations problems by giving low-performing problem employees encouragement to grieve legitimate management decisions. I had one employee who threw a chair against the wall and made her office mates cry. I wanted to discipline her, but HR overruled me on the grounds that she threw the chair on Monday, and I had waited too long by Friday!

June 25, 2010 at 4:21 am
(45) JAYESH SHARMA says:

THE WORK OF HR IS FINDING AND KEEPING THE BEST CANDIDATES.FOR THAT HR PLAY CERTAIN ROLE AND DID THE MANY FUNCTION,LIKE RECRUITMENT,SELECTION, COMPENSATION, APPRAISAL,AND INDUSTRIAL RELATION.THESE WORK IS SUCH TOUGH BECAUSE IT DEALS WITH LIVE ENTITY (EMPLOYEES).BUT HR DEPARTMENT HAS ITS OWN LIMITATION,THEY HAVE NOT THE FINAL AUTHORITIES.
SECONDLY HR DEPARTMENT WANT EMPLOYEES IN GOOD SYSTEM AND BECAUSE OF ANY ANY REASON SOME PEOPLE WOULD NOT LIKE TO FOLLOW THE SYSTEM.
HR IS PAID BY MANAGEMENT SO THEY HAVETO TAKE CARE OF THAT AND EMPLOYEES FEELS HR DEPARTMENT IS JUST FOR THE ASSIST TO EMPLOYEES.
SO BECAUSE OF MANY REASON EMPLOYEE HATE HR DEPARTMENT BUT THERE IS TRUTH THAT BITTER IS ALWAY EFFECTIVE IN THEIR FIELD , AND MEDICINE IS ALWAYS BITTER.

January 8, 2011 at 2:55 pm
(46) jace says:

commenter number 38, Joshua, had it right.

i worked for two large entities: one was corporate america. a company owned by a company that owns companies. the other was the state government at a state university. my experience with HR in both places was the same:

sociopathic. pompous. arrogant. immoral. incompetent. callous. using convoluted contractual language to get around any and all employee-positive laws or incentives. liars. totally aligned with the executives/management, not the employees. insincere. grossly over payed for the kind of work they do. always unavailable when it’s not an issue important to them. creepy. major game players who will never answer a direct question honestly or directly. they’re like walking legal documents intended to defeat the spirit of the law by using the letter of the law. etcetera.

people don’t like them because they’re creepy and off-putting. when you have to even ASK why people don’t like HR, you’re out of touch with the way things are.

the state system of PA university i worked at has the union COMPLETELY in their pockets. the union is a lie. that doesn’t engender much respect on my part, does it?

i could go on and on. i have PTSD from my employment experiences… i’m unable to even consider the idea of working for another entity with an HR department without getting extremely worked up.

they’re traitorous, vile sociopaths and they’re making tons of money playing childish games with adult vocabularies and power. power power power. they play with people’s lives, discarding them at convenience of numbers or image. siding with management when management is wrong. claiming to be superior by way of representing the authority, etc.

there are solid reasons why people have a dislike of Human Resources. they’re valid reasons. no amount of weasel wording in defense of HR as being some legit social structure will change the fact that they are earning a negative reputation daily by their actions and their behaviors. they don’t need to be accountable or even care about that public opinion, though, because they’re untouchable (until the company seriously down-sizes middle-management or shuts down, and by that point they have enough money in the bank to retire early).

May 15, 2011 at 4:16 am
(47) dungeon master says:

Well said. You are the voice of reason. Vile sociopath is right. God knows we can’t say anything to soil their reputations but when we have concerns against our equally do nothing managers we can be called liars up to the eyeball. The modern corporate structure is all about abuse of power. I can’t use my real name in a blog or hurt the reputation of poor babies but they can say whatever they want about me. Whatever happened to freedom of speech. Complaining about problems doesn’t hurt anybody. It makes people accountable. Hr people want to create this false utopia where everybody has nothing bad to say about anybody. Live in the real world.High performing employees who feel shortchanged have every reason to gripe against their A-hole lazy coworkers and managers. Hr people should support our sentiments. A utopia is when everyone does their job for the better good. So the team wins. I don’t have to agree or like everybody as long as they do their jobs. Not everybody has to like me I am a big boy and can take it. You can hate everyone and everyone can hate you and the team can win it all. I read once that some of the great Yankees teams had people who disliked one another the manager and the players scowled at one another. They were grown men and lived with it. Why can’t modern managers live with the criticism. When you are in power you have to expect that fingers will be pointing in your direction and you can’t dodge the bullets easily. You want power CEOS HR MFS then deal with the consequences of your desires. FU all.

November 17, 2011 at 5:48 pm
(48) I can't agree more says:

I was compelled to comment after reading Jace and J0shua’s posts.

From my experience HR is the armpit of any company – both in their behaviours and their backgrounds.
I have had numerous horrifying experiences. The lying, deceit, duplicity and absolute need to embarrass employees is stupefying to me. Perhaps most upsetting though is HR’s absolutely BLIND, Hellen Keller like loyalty to managers who have the ability of headless chickens. It is disgraceful.

I absolutely HATE HR – and have seen them actively sabotage me in roles time and time again. In my opinion, the best way is NO HR – get around them for interviews, and just sign the paperwork.

A word for younger employees – DO NOT TRUST THESE PEOPLE. Minimize ALL CONTACT with them. They are harbingers of doom – destrying all in their path. If you have a problem, go to a trusted mentor OUTSIDE the company. If you go to HR – be prepared for a sanction or firing. TRUST ME.
HR is HORRIBLE.

January 21, 2012 at 6:13 pm
(49) tonymontana says:

Most hr “professionals” that I have ever met have never broken a sweat at work in their entire lifetime. They deal in buzzwords like “synergy”, “best practices” and “value-added”. This seems to be the main attraction of their ridiculously rehearsed performances at board meetings. But the reason that I really hate hr people is because their sole purpose is to withhold employment from those who need it the most. Anyone who has some petty, bogus misdemeanor, has bad credit or has been fired for some stupid reason cannot get hired these days. so their only recourse is public assistance aka welfare. And who pays that? Everybody! Why not just let these people work and fend for themselves. Here’s an idea: Anytime you encounter an hr person who needs any kind of favor from you, demand that they submit a resume with a cover letter explaining why they should be considered for this favor, submit blood/urine/hair samples, submit to a federal criminal background check, provide photocopies of their diploma/degrees, provide reference letters from former employers/community leaders and then they will be subjected to an online psychological exam and a ridiculously long online application process. Then throw all of these things in the trash and act like they never asked you for a favor in the first place.

March 4, 2012 at 6:03 pm
(50) Joe Hernandez says:

I believe people dislike HR because their position went to their head (to say it nicely). They abuse their authority and employees, many times, feel intimidated. Employees feel like they’re going to court when called to the HR office. I strongly believe employers should have at least one bilingual HR. It’s awful to see Spanish speaking employees turned away because they don’t speak English in a sewing manufacturing factory where 60% are hispanic/latino.

April 28, 2012 at 9:06 am
(51) gopinath says:

In my opinion, people management is always being treated as some one else’s baby. This mind set requires a thorough introspection. Demarcation between line manager and the staff role of the HR manager is the main culprit. This causes people to show off upmanship by both sides. After all, when all are working in unison to achieve organisational goals through human capital, then why bother about the designations? The thrust must be on how to utilise the competencies of human resources and become competitive, thereby passing on the benifits to all stakeholders equitably. This mode perhaps will have a cascading effect.

September 3, 2012 at 7:16 pm
(52) unknown says:

HR has to be growing in importance because more and more companies have Leadership Development Programs to get new, creative talent into HR roles in their companies.

February 14, 2013 at 1:21 pm
(53) nja says:

The trend I have seen in HR over the past 10 years is that HR staffing has been reduced to a point where one HR generalist may be required to support organizations from 300 to 2500 employees and managers. I have even seen frontline HR functions outsourced to India.

These corporate decisions are a disservice to all employees in a company, including HR. Those in HR with a passion for the employees simply don’t have the bandwidth to support them. The survival skill is to focus on the critical issues in the organization, which precludes many of the support activities that people in a company appreciate.

Prior to HR, I worked in R&D. I understand the perspective of HR from the outside in. Believe me, I have had very bad HR experiences myself as a technical manager. There will always be bad HR people. But I believe that if companies would value HR for the positive impact they can have and increase staffing to a level that can support the organizations, the perception of HR would improve dramatically.

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