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Jamie Lawrence


Insights Director

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“The HR department is not on my side.”


There was an interesting thread recently on social sharing site reddit. The author asked: “What's the biggest incorrect fact you've always believed and insisted you were right, until you learnt how wrong you were?”

There were some very interesting responses. Did you know, for example, that all different tastes can be detected on all parts of the tongue, and that people use far more than 10% of their brains? Another person pointed out that contrary to popular belief, Napoleon Bonaparte was actually considered taller than average for the time.

All very interesting, but not very HR-related.

Until I read one response:

This was followed by a slew of comments from other commentators which backed up eat_drink_n_b_merry's position.

These are just a sample of this type of response – there were a lot more. But others did chip in, including this response which criticised the 'black-and-white' thinking of the previous posters.

You can check out the full responses to eat_drink_n_b_merry's comment.

There are a few things to consider here:

  1. Social sharing sites tend to skew very negative and very positive responses because these people are most likely to comment, just as TripAdvisor is likely to make the negative aspects of a hotel seem worse than they are – take that how you will
  2. While reddit has members across the world, it is a US-dominant site, and is particular popular with 18-30 year old males. I've not looked up or investigated the nationalities or demographics of the commenters in this thread
  3. There seems to be, among both positive and negative commenters, a clear opinion of HR as an archaic department that is mobilised when needed but otherwise lies dormant, which suggests to me a lot of employees are not aware of how much work HR does in talent management, engagement, onboarding, reporting, etc.

HR is a department of the company, so of course its job is to act in the company's interests – but there's a way to do it to protect the employee as much as possible at the same time. Maybe it's a communication problem. It's definitely an image problem.


5 Responses

  1. Equanimity

    One must see things in balance. When I was fired for formal whistleblowing of endemic criminal corruption in Telco infrastructure construction, I did lose sleep. Until I realised that I'd been freely given a great gift of inside knowledge, which could be turned to quite an advantage. And it helped that I accepted the fact that we're largely descended from convicts down here.

    And I feel a little sorry for those HR personnel responsible, coz I've turned 55 & cashed in the super and care not whether there is a reference available. One day their names will be public, just for doing their job.

  2. Amazing

    I feel amazed and sorry for those employees who are fired, due to some others fault. I think in this situation the HR managers should listen to the fired employee's side of story.  One wrong step of HR can result in complete loss of career for the employee.

  3. Henchmen?

    I prefer the term corporate Doberman.

    A necessary evil to which I grew accustomed in the Navy. The coxswain fulfils the role of military police / HR and no-one resented the duality of prosecuting on behalf of the XO one day, then payroll & travel expense generosity another. Even in the confines below decks.

  4. “The HR department is not on my side.”

    I'm not clear what protection is required for employees from what? There seems to be copious employment law designed to give a host of remedies for employees, even those who choose to litigate for the most absurd reasons.

    And wouldn't the recent BBC payouts farrago demonstrate that HR can be almost too far onside for the employees? (Although Adams – that standard bearer for HR – now avers that HR isn't an organisation's conscience, lol)

    If HR takes sides in any case I would see it as falling down in its role: Enabling the development of all employees of whatever level to perform to their optimal ability and capacity. Where does "sides" come into that?

    It looks like the welfare wing of the profession is rising from the ashes again!

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Jamie Lawrence

Insights Director

Read more from Jamie Lawrence