Five Really Good Reasons to Give HR a Little Love

Poor HR gets so much hate.

Sadly, some of it is justified, but there’s also a lot to appreciate about HR. For example:

1. We know more than you think

I’m not talking about best practices, workplace trends, or breaking employment law-related news, I’m talking about important stuff, like who in the company does a great job and who’s a problem in the making — waaaaaay before the manager wants to admit it.

(I’ll let you in on a little secret: It’s all in the new-hire paperwork. Whoever’s wildly irresponsible with the paperwork is most likely a disorganized hot mess or an entitled jerk, and in time the work will tell. The opposite is true for those who diligently and completely return their stuff. Honest.)

2. We’d take a bullet for you

Metaphorically, that is. In 2011, SHRM reported that nearly 31.4 percent of HR professionals had been bullied at work. Some 60 percent said they experienced bullying behavior on a daily basis.

One reason? According to study author Theresa Daniel, HR professionals often stayed in a bad situation because they were serving as the “ ‘organizational shock absorbers’ — they cared about the employees so much that they felt if they exited their role there would be nobody there to protect the other employees.”

I’ll just let that sink in for a moment.

3. We’re getting better

A couple of weeks ago, I had a conversation with a retired HR pro who expressed her opinion that employee handbooks should be as bare bones as possible — you know, so an employee can never “prove” a company isn’t following its policies.

Geez Louise; thank you for your service and goodbye! I can’t imagine any forward thinking HR practitioner harboring this attitude. (At least none of the ones I associate with think this way.) I believe that means we deserve some credit for evolving. Don’t you?

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4. We make it look easy

Has everyone been paid the right amount and are all payroll deductions correct? Check. No EEOC complaints this year, last year, or the year before? Check. Is the new time and attendance system in place and is everyone trained in its use? Check.

Are all positions filled and all new hires on board with the (aforementioned) paperwork complete? Check, check, check. It’s not as effortless as it looks, folks — not even boring old payroll. (Well, I actually like payroll, but I know everyone doesn’t.)

5. We keep your secrets

Whether they’re financial, medical, or marital, HR always keeps your secrets.

What’s more, you can sit in our chair and call your boss an incompetent, narcissisti douche-bag, and we’ll never tell. And when your boss says she’d love to fire you, but her boss won’t allow it, we won’t tell that either.

You call it two-faced; we call it doing our job.

So there you have it. Five (5) very good reasons why HR should get a little more respect once in a while. Can you think of more?

Crystal Spraggins, SPHR, is an HR consultant and freelance writer who lives in Philadelphia. She also writes at her blog, HR BlogVOCATE. For the past 15 years, Crystal has focused on building HR departments in small- to mid-sized companies under the philosophy that "HR is not for wimps." She is also the CEO and Founder of Work It Out! and partners with HRCVision, a full-service HR consultant practice specializing in leadership and diversity training. Contact her at crs036@aim.com.

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