No matter where you go, everyone has an opinion about what an HR person does (or should do). Sometimes, these bits of insight are incredibly useful to you in your day to day role as a modern HR pro.
More often, however, as I’m sure you’ll agree, we just hear those same old myths and stereotypes.
Here’s 6 of my favourites (plus some tips on how to dispel them):
Myth #1: HR only care about people, not numbers
Yes, HR care about people (although to be fair, shouldn’t everyone?).
Tip: Next time someone spouts this myth, pull out one of the many reports that you prepare on a day-to-day basis (hiding the sensitive information, of course). They’ll walk out confused, disoriented and (hopefully) a little more appreciative of the work you do!
Myth #2: HR knows the answer to every dispute and conflict
Your skillset doesn’t make you a library of information. You’re a master of finding the answers, creating the solution, doing the impossible and getting the best result for all parties involved.
Sometimes, you’ll know the best way to manage a situation off the top of your head, but complex challenges generally require complex problem-solving processes.
Tip: Next time a line manager gives you a hard time for not having the answer to their HR-related problem on the spot, refer them to section 198 of the Trade Practices Act 1974. It doesn’t exist, but at least it’ll give you some time to come up with a proper solution.
Myth #3: HR are here for you to vent
Ok, we do want employees to come to HR for the legitimate concerns, ideas and issues.
But that’s not your main job. Your job is to maximise the success of both employees and the business. And that means you have to act on complaints as they come in and get them resolved, not just sit by and passively listen.
Tip: When someone comes to you to with a concern, ask them if their direct manager should be hearing these concerns too (especially if it concerns them!). That way, you’ll set the expectation that HR is about resolutions and results, not complaints.
Myth #4: HR care about the company first, employees last
This has always been a strange one, and usually comes from those who don’t understand that happy employees = a successful company.
In reality, HR are usually the ones having to remind the other decision makers in the organisation to look out for the employees’ interests. You’re on their side as much as anyone!
Tip: Many of your efforts to make each employee’s life better will go unnoticed as they happen behind the scenes. Sometimes you’ll just need to smile and remember – you’re a masked superhero, fighting the average employee’s battles for them. Yes, you won’t always get the recognition you deserve, but heroes rarely do.
Myth #5: HR bring in too much red tape
Sadly, HR doesn’t make the rules. The government does.
Sometimes, you have to be the bad cop and implement stricter hiring and management processes internally to make sure the actual cops don’t end up getting involved later. A few headaches internally are far better than a legal media circus externally.
Tip: Next time a frustrated manager complains about the processes they need to go through, point out the latest HR-related court case in the news and ask if they’d like to have their photo in the newspaper instead.
Myth #6: HR is easy
We provide software to make HR’s life easier, because we know just how hard it is.
It’s often a thankless task, the challenges that arise are often out of your control and you have to deal with misconceptions about what you actually do on a daily basis, but at the end of the day, you’re making the workplace a better place – solving problems and dispelling myths every day.
Now, go book that much-deserved holiday.