Do you want to know if HR is really your friend or someone you should avoid? This article will give you some guidance. From the guide, you will be able to answer the question. Your boss has been victimizing you at work and you are thinking of reporting him to HR. Should you do that?
Well, you might just be able to provide an answer to the question after this article. Normally I wouldn’t advise anyone to call on HR if you’re facing any issues at work. It is best to find a way to resolve your issues or you just go along with it while you look for an out.
A reason I normally would not advise people to take their issues to HR is that not all companies have an HR department.
If you think about startups, small companies with maybe less than 20 staff members, may not have an HR team.
If you happen to work in a larger organization, most especially multinationals, you will have an HR department.
To get started, let us have an overview of who or what an HR department is about.
Who is an HR?
Let’s go back a bit to the origin of HR. Human Resources emerged to stop workers from unionizing.
It is not as bad as that. The department was created then to ensure that workers get their pay and in a timely manner. This is to ensure that workers do not come together to form a union and then start demanding their pay and even more.
Since that time, like every other thing else, the role of HR has evolved.
What are the functions of modern HR?
Nowadays, the HR department oversees some specific functions as below:
- Keeping employee records
- People policies
- Performance reviews
- People growth
Yes, I know. All these sounds rather warming. I skipped a part.
Why is the HR department needed?
The key function of the HR is department is to protect the company’s interest. This they do by making sure the staff does not have anything to complain about. Would you consider HR a friend now?
To make you understand better, one thing HR does not do is to advocate for you. You might want to read that again.
The HR job is simple: “Do not let any employee or partner sue the company”.
So, the HR department works in the interest of the company, not yours. They are not there to protect your boss from making advances at you. They are there to make sure that you do not have a cause to sue the company because of the actions of your manager.
Will the HR help you?
Let us get something out of the way before delving into this; you are your best advocate. In fact, in some cases, you are all you’ve got. And if that’s the case, knowing your value and demonstrating it regularly is very important.
For what it is worth, try and exhaust all options before taking any work-related issue to HR. This is because there may be retaliation if you took your workplace issues to HR. This would be your fate especially if HR decides that the issue works against the best interest of the company.
Let us look at a situation that happened to a long-time friend. She was a victim of discrimination and was did not get equal opportunities based on her gender at work.
This was a problem everyone at the company knew about but there was no one to address it. She complained to the HR when she could not take it anymore.
Unfortunately for her, the HR she went to complain to be a known patriarchy supporter. Instantly, HR decided that this friend of mine was the problem.
Why? Because if there is a legitimate gender discrimination issue, the company would be in trouble. It could even lead to the company getting sued. Just a reminder to what was earlier pointed out in this article, the job of the HR is to let the company get sued.
Having this in mind, HR had to spin the narrative and brought up performance issues for my friend. The HR felt this was an easier approach to fixing the discrimination issue that could lead to the company getting sued.
So, what happened was, some senior colleagues stepped in and my friend was forced to manage the crisis. She had to put up in the company for some time until she got another job.
She had to quit.
We can say HR did a job of not getting the company sued.
Are you still unable to determine if HR is your friend yet? Let’s continue.
What to do before filing a complaint with HR
This could be a tricky one. Your first step to this is to check out how HR had responded to similar issues in the past.
You can ask around from your trusted co-workers about the HR had handled an issue such as yours in the past.
You should determine if their response was helpful or harmful in the situation. This would be a great indicator to you regarding who you are dealing with.
If you are in a smaller organization, you need to weigh your relationship with HR. Is the person someone you know personally? Can you trust them?
Another thing that could be helpful is if you have an employee handbook. Most long-standing companies would have this.
The employee handbook outlines the instances you should engage the HR team for assistance or where you should look elsewhere.
On this note, let us go on to when we should approach HR and with what.
When to go to HR and what to bring
So, there are some low-risk stuff that the HR does that when it comes to it, you just must go to them with it.
If you have questions or issues about tax forms or some other benefits, your HR is there to help you out.
That is part of their job functions.
If you must complain about a toxic boss, toxic co-worker, a hostile working environment, or you know of any illegal stuff going on, you need to have a few things ready before you do.
First is to gather hard evidence to go with your claim. Notes, emails, screenshots of WhatsApp messages, etc., would go a long to give credence to your claims.
This is important because when you are making a complaint about a toxic colleague or hostile environment, you should not make it about opinions.
Rather, you make it a matter of facts.
The other alternative, especially if you see any potential risk of retaliation is to consult a lawyer. Yes, it may cost some money that not everyone would be able to afford.
But it would bring some peace knowing that you have someone on your side that would help you frame the conversation for success.
And finally, if you are surrounded by people, you do not trust and you cannot predict how your HR would react to your complaint, have a solid Plan B.
Ensure you have this Plan B ready to execute or have it in flight.
This Plan B does not necessarily mean you have a job lined up to resume at – although this would have been best- updating your LinkedIn, revamping your CV, and activating your network would go a long way.
Hopefully you won’t need those, but it is better safe than sorry.
In many instances, if you are trying to navigate office politics, toxic boss, toxic colleagues, you are better off on your own. Involving your HR may make matters worse. Truth be told, HR might not have an answer for you.
Luckily for you, you have our career blog to assist. Just keep coming here from to time and check our articles. You just might find that one that helps in that moment.
On that note, it would be great to drop some hints in the comments if you have had an encounter with an HR and how it panned out.