Can employees actually trust Human Resources? Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos got more than he bargained for this summer after inviting employees to come forward to the company’s HR department with their concerns following a controversy about Amazon’s workplace culture.
As longtime North Carolina employment attorney and blogger Robin Shea ably detailed, the result was a flood of internet comments in response along these lines:
- HR doesn’t give a hoot about the employees;
- HR is in the tank for employers; and
- If I were having a problem, the last place I would go is HR.
The anonymous employee comments were almost universally “liked” on social media. So is this a few rogue complainers making a lot of noise, or do they have a point? Shea joins me on our new podcast not only to examine this question, but to discuss what can be done to change this negative perception of HR.
Shea explains that much of this perception stems for a general misunderstanding of HR’s role and who’s side it is on. She says, “There’s a sense of betrayal if an HR person does something in the interests of the company that might not be consistent with what the employee wants.”
For those who think that negative view can be changed, Shea is not so sure. “The HR representative is always going to be in a sort of gray area by employees as somebody who ought to be on their side, but really has to do what is best for the company.”
That being said, Shea details a few examples where an HR representative’s actions have saved an employee’s job or successfully addressed harassment claims. She also notes that the best decision for the company sometimes also will be the best decision for the employee.
This leads Shea to conclude, “Disgruntled employees, HR is on your side more than you think.” She adds that there are a lot of reasons why it’s in the company’s best interests to do right by its employees for the following reasons:
- Increased morale;
- Easier to recruit and retain good employees; and
- Reduced litigation costs.
Thus, there are many bottom-line reasons why an employer would want an effective, well-supported HR department. “That means they are going to be looking out for the employees too and trying to encourage the company to do the right thing,” says Shea. For more insights, listen to our latest XpertHR podcast.
Do you find employees don’t trust HR? Let us know by leaving a comment below.