The Human Resources (HR) department is ubiquitous to all companies. It is uniquely positioned, to interact face-to-face with everyone who works in the company. Here are things to keep in mind about HR that they’ll never admit openly.

1. Tough Empathy

An employee who approaches HR with his or her problem, is met with a “friendly-face.” HR staff are trained to provide a sympathetic ear to employee problems. But when resolving problems, HR will follow company policies. Due to policies which are structured behind closed doors, problems get suppressed under bureaucracy, and resolutions may never see the light of day. Tough empathy frustrates the employee and HR staff in equal measure.

2. Risk Aversion

In most companies, HR are not people who are independent thinkers or who stand up as a moral compass, nor is HR the top choice for smart and ambitious graduates out of college. Moreover, executives who move to HR are usually corporate exiles – people who fared poorly in meatier roles. As a result, people manning the HR department are averse to risk, and prefer taking the safer approach to any problem. This does not always augur well for the employee, as the HR steadfastly stands behind the best interests of the organization, instead of standing up for the rights of the employee.

3. Customer Satisfaction

Performance appraisals from HR staff is linked to the satisfaction of the managers. As an employee, if you have concerns or issues regarding management, this implicit bias comes in the way. Just as you never bite the hand that feeds you, similarly, HR hesitates to confront the managers on issues raised by employees.

4. Equal Treatment

HR professionals are required to retain the top talent within an organization. These “top performers,” get preferential treatment by the HR department. HR focuses specifically to cultivate and challenge employees who make a difference in the workplace. It is futile to fight against such preferential treatment. But the unfairness can be leveraged in your favor provided you are considered valuable by the HR department.

5. Workplace Mediation

Dispute resolution in the workplace is an important HR function. When going into a mediation, know that the burden of proof lies with the accuser. If the accusations are not backed by sufficient evidence, the mediations quickly turn into talk-fests. Moreover, HR mediates to protect the company’s interest. If your interest is not aligned with the company’s interest, then you should think again before going to HR.

6. HR Metrics

HR has details related to the attrition or vacancy rates in the company. But, if someone asks, why is a position not filled, then in defense HR does not have a “time to fill” metric to argue with a non-HR person that its record in filling up positions is above average. Better data fosters increased credibility within an organization. Until companies adopt Big Data approach to analytics, HR will not have the tools necessary to influence non-HR people.

7. Budget Cuts and Recession

The ongoing recession and budget cuts have forced companies to trim down HR departments. These cuts hurt HR departments as much as the other departments. The next time you grudge HR for laying off staff within your team, do spare a thought for HR staff themselves. They are under a tremendous struggle to reinvent themselves and to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of delivering services in the context of a shrinking workplace.

8. HR Matters!

HR is responsible for annual performance appraisals, as well as employee welfare and management. Their opinion on you, as an employee, does matter. One should have a positive relationship with HR. After all, you do not want HR to overlook you the next time there is a possibility of a promotion, or a pay hike.

9. Beware

Beware of what you discuss and share with HR. The HR department is not obligated to keep your information confidential. These days, HR is part of our digital social networks and news feeds. Be careful of what you share in these places. However, if HR finds any activity that is illegal or against the interest of the company, then they will be forced to take action against you.

10. Background Checks and Workplace Monitoring

Routinely, HR runs a detailed background check on employees. Most HR departments have access to online monitoring platforms that dig a lot deeper than you imagine. Once hired, your activities are monitored in the workplace. One need not be paranoid, but HR knows much more about you than you think they do. All of this information can be used against you when it suits the company’s interest.

Featured photo credit: Mathew Dent via flickr.com

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