S. Anne Marie Archer
Why Employees Should NEVER Trust Human Resources (HR)
Updated: Apr 13
One of the most important things you need to understand as an employee at any organization is that you cannot trust Human Resources and more importantly why.
Watch my YouTube video on this subject (Like, Comment & Subscribe) where I explain why you should NEVER trust Human Resources.
Whenever an employee joins an organization, they are often invited to a new hire orientation led by someone from Human Resources (HR). At some point during that event, the employee will be told how much HR cares about them. And the person saying it might actually mean it but the reality is quite different.
I have clients and potential clients often say things like:
“I went to HR and reported it but they did nothing.”
“I went to HR and spoke to them and they said they would get back to me but they didn’t.”
Or even worse,
“I made a report to HR and they told me that what my manager did was wrong and that they would help me, but now they are accusing me of doing something wrong.”
Why does this happen so often you may wonder.
Is HR and its staff just filled with bad people? NO.
To understand why HR functions the way it does and why so often it protects rogue and just downright awful managers you have to understand a very important reality:
While HR may not be your enemy, they are NOT your friend.
HR will accept and listen to complaints from employees but never take any real action to correct the root causes of the problems because management, primarily senior management, does not want it to.
No matter how much they say the care about the employee, HR almost always prioritizes the wishes, wants and desires of management over those of the rank-and-file non-management staff. A primary reason for this is that managers are agents of the organization. What they do or don’t do, can result in liability for the organization. Unfortunately, often HR professionals conflate protecting the organization with protecting management broadly. As a result, there is a tendency to “circle the wagons” when something goes awry. As a former HR leader, manager and staffer, I remember doing these things early on in my career. But because I was also a trained attorney after some time, it quickly occurred to me that the best protection for an organization by HR is to root out bad management and to have employee progressive policies to retain the best staff possible. Unfortunately, this is and was not a popular approach in most institutions and I always received pushback that reflected a desire to maintain the status quo of protecting even the worse managers while targeting and labeling employees who raised concerns and complaints as “problems.”
Employees generally do not trust HR and that mistrust is rightly deserved. Too many HR departments continue even amidst a pandemic and the Great Resignation, to carry water, no matter how dirty, for management at the expense of employees. Most HR professionals who want to do HR the right way, as I did, ultimately leave the profession because, frankly it is corrupt. Correcting these issues are not difficult in my view but there is no will on the part of those who control HR, i.e., upper senior management, to truly change, because then THEY would be expected to change or be held to account for their problematic behavior. So, they don’t, and therefore the function of HR cannot not change even when the personnel inside HR would like it to change.
Human Resources first and foremost exist to protect an institution from exposure and liability in its management of its workforce.
HR will usually only act against a manager when his/her actions put the organization itself in an exposure or liability position. See the recent issues at CNN, Tesla, and so many other Fortune 500 companies. And this phenomenon is not limited to large corporate entities. I worked in nonprofit organizations for all my career and, believe me, they are NO better. The corruption of HR is the same and the way it functions is the same.
Understanding how HR functions and why it functions the way it does is very important if you are being subjected to a discriminatory hostile work environment and you wish to leave with severance pay. To get HR in act your favor you must effectively document and report instances of discrimination and present your concerns in a way that gets HR to care about the organization’s possible exposure to liability. They will not act just because what your manager did is wrong. They will generally act if you have effectively documented the wrongdoing and it illustrates that they have serious or significant exposure if you choose to file a legal claim against them. This is where I come in. I have successfully helped many clients follow the steps necessary to negotiate their way out of discriminatory hostile work environment with their coin, paper, USD-dinero. It is not easy, but it is possible.
But the first step is understanding that HR is not going to be your champion, HR Is not going to be your white knight if your manager is engaging in racist or otherwise discriminatory behavior. You will have to save yourself. But I can help you.
HR may not be your friend, but I am.
If you believe you are being subjected to a discriminatory Hostile Work Environment, enroll in my 4-part Hostile Work Environment Escape Strategy Webinar Series. It will walk you through each step needed to identify, document, report, request and negotiate a separation from an employer with severance based on discriminatory actions.
If you need help navigating a discriminatory hostile work environment, or you want to get out of one, perhaps with some severance pay, Book a HWEES Discovery Call.
For more tips about navigating and escaping difficult HR situations,
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HR is not your enemy but they are definitely not your friend, I am.
I am the AntiHR, HRLady and I’m here to help.