The function of HR is to help smooth out the day-to-day operations of a company. Good HR is like the grease of a well-oiled machine, optimising the efforts of each person to help the company move forward and reach new heights.
However, the sad reality is that some people end up hating HR, for reasons both justified and otherwise. Below we’ve compiled the top responses from HR Managers sharing their honest frustration and divulge on reasons for receiving the hate.
1. Disclaimer before I start this: I work in HR
Employees dislike HR when we enforce nitpicky rules, outdated policies, and go after the small issues rather than taking a look at the larger issues in the organisation. I have literally seen some of my HR colleagues practically have a panic attack over someone slightly out of dress code (wearing capri pants), while completely oblivious to an escalating turnover problem or other real issues.
Managers also dislike HR because sometimes we can be insistent on seeing every issue in black and white rather than in shades of grey. Managers also don’t like it when we don’t understand their particular functional areas and tend to view us HR people as stuck in our silo as “personnel jockeys”.
A lot of HR people don’t spend a lot of time circulating around the workplace just interacting with the employees… so when the employee ends up interacting with HR (by being sent to the HR office), it’s generally because they are in the bad books for one reason or another. Honestly, would you LIKE a place where the only time you ended up there was when you were in BIG trouble? Didn’t think so!
Job applicants hate HR, maybe even more so than employees and managers do. Even after phone or in-person interviews, the rejected candidates do not receive a follow-up phone call. In some cases, I have heard stories where they did not even receive an email informing them they did not get the job. It’s just common courtesy to reach out to unsuccessful interviewees and let them know they didn’t get the job, so that they can move on. Job applicants also hate HR when they act like it is such a bother to pull up the automated recruiting software and check to see the person’s status… it takes all of a few seconds?!
HR hates HR. HR people who are more into the strategy side of HR sometimes look down on HR people who are more interested in the day-to-day operational side of HR. Generalists find specialists to be too narrowly focused and specialists feel that generalists are just too ‘all over the board’ for their own good. HR people with the certifications feel this is important to have and sets them apart.
2. HR is a thankless job…
HR is a thankless job, one that doesn’t contribute to the revenues directly and has no tangible numbers to produce at the end of the month or quarter..
But just imagine a day without them… No one to record your attendance, forget work done… No one to cheer you up or to motivate you to take up the adversities in day-to-day work… No one to patiently listen to your pleas and hue cries for your work and bosses, mind you, they too have those annoying bosses, alas no one to complain to…. Oh you have a vacancy in department? Fine, either fill it yourself or slog for the vacancy creator… Puppet in the hands of management to drive every possible disliked policy and rules in the name of HR…etc etc…
However, I don’t vouch for every act of HR… It is absolutely possible to become a business partner, use wisdom and analytics, prove one’s contribution to the company’s growth, and rightfully deserve the place of a company back bone…
PS: By the virtue of act, I am an HR Professional.
3. Hate towards HR should really be directed towards the leaders
I am an HR Manager in a huge MNC. I have worked here for 5+ years.
Also, I am the right person to answer this because I have worked as an IT professional in the earlier years of my career and have seen the HR community from the other side (as an employee).
In many organisations, HR departments are respected, revered and considered an essential part of the organisation. However, in some they are found to be hated and unnecessary.
An HR department is usually expected by these managements to not have a voice of their own. In many organisations (and this has nothing to do with the size, and everything to do with the culture and CEO’s mindset), the HR department is considered as the voice of the company only. These departments are not allowed to have a voice of their own, they are not supposed to give their opinion, partner with the business and deliver sustainable human solutions. Basically, they are to only deliver the decision already made by someone else who is a business expert, but need not have any understanding of human capital. Even if he has a good understanding, because this decision was not jointly made, and some information behind the decision making was not possibly shared with the HRs, which is where the HR team is not able to deliver a great solution, and bungle up with the final output.
It is these HR teams, who give irrational reasons, are vague and are a generally inept group of bungling idiots (or so they seem from the outside to the employees). Any decent HR professional would not like to work here as well, and hence they move towards better organisations where they are valued and only lower calibre professionals remain in these companies.
The good HR professionals slowly start gravitating towards industries which have a large aspect of business partnering expected from HR, where decision making is done jointly and reason for every decision is understood. Where HR has a point of view, which they are not scared to admit, where HR understands the business they are in.
If you hate the HR department, it means that the CEO of your company does not believe in having an empowered HR team, and most likely it is because he is dictatorial in his management style.
4. The “unofficial” mediator
Many Human Resources departments have the unfortunate roll of playing the liaison between employee and management. Management uses this to their advantage: “Didn’t get the raise you thought you were worth? Well, HR said I had to cap it.” Human Resources are utilised by many companies as the “watchdogs” for the company in regards to their employees. Payroll, benefits, and disciplinary actions are usually handled here. As a result, all negatives get flung in our direction: we get it from both sides and try to play “damage control” to make things smooth out, to play the mediator.
I look at it this way: I am the “unofficial” mediator for my company: All the employees know they can come talk to me. I will help them in any way I may be able to. If it is something beyond me, and I believe they are worth the effort, I will take their case to those higher up. My employees know that I deal with them openly and honestly, so they can be open and honest with me. If there’s a disciplinary action that must be dealt, they are more inclined to accept it from me instead of someone else. In essence, I treat them with respect, and they reciprocate. HOWEVER, I don’t work for a mindless, megacorporation either. In my opinion, there tends to be a less personable, more regimented pattern with the mega-corps that create undue friction and tension. As a result, their HR departments (which, btw, I include Personnel Dept. as being synonymous) get the flak!
I’d suggest growing a thicker skin: the mega-corps don’t care about their employees the way a smaller outfit would. Their mentality? “Why should we? There’s someone out there to replace them!”, not taking into account the time, energy, and money it takes to do just that. They design their HR departments as a buffer between them and the employees; totally opposite to how an effective HR can be handled.
The Mega-corporations are like dinosaurs: the bigger they get, the smaller their brains get. You aren’t going to change them. So, unless you opt to a less-stressful position in the company, (say, window washer for a 55-story building!), your only other 2 options are to quit or grow a thicker skin.
HR is tough work!
In all seriousness, HR is tough. It’s a praiseworthy job precisely because it takes a truly self-sacrificing personality who is willing to commit themselves for the betterment of others to do it. Not everyone is capable of carrying out the difficult conversations that need to be made when tensions are high. Moreover, HR takes on a role as a mentor, or a coach, taking care to make people the best versions of themselves. For these reasons, HR deserves more credit than it gets.
If you would like to gain more insight on what other HR managers have to say, check out this article on our latest event for HR leaders in financial services. There we discuss about the current state of HR and its adoption of analytics to bring HR into the boardroom.