5 reasons your HR department is driving everyone crazy (and what you can do about it)


Bad HR has become a bad, sad cliche. The situation has gotten so dire, hardly anyone actually expects great things of HR anymore, because that would be like expecting a used car salesman to be honest, or a professional basketball player to be faithful—it just isn’t happening.

It doesn’t have to be this way. A competent, courageous, and supported HR professional (or two) could do awesome things for your organization. Awesome.But instead, HR just drives everyone crazy. Here’s why, as well as some ways you can stop it from happening.

  1. HR gets stuff wrong all the time.
    Errors in paychecks, bad information about benefits, misinformation about basic employment laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), missed compliance deadlines, and sloppy, choppy, ineffective hiring practices make your employees wonder who’s more capable—the Keystone Cops or the folks in the HR department?

    SOLUTION:
    Set your standards high, and make changes if they aren’t being met.
    Has your company outgrown its HR talent? If so, it’s time to get serious about employee development. You say you’ve never had a “real” HR professional and have no idea how to find one? Hire a consultant to help you out. The HR function serves a need, and it’s hurting your business to let that need go unmet.

  2. HR doesn’t have any answers.
    Need training recommendations? The solution to a tricky employee relations issue? Perhaps you’re wondering whether the company’s contribution toward your health savings account will be counted as taxable income? Whatever your question, HR doesn’t seem to have any answers. Eventually, employees stop asking.

    SOLUTION:
    Insist that continuing education and good customer service are more than “nice to haves.”

    Good HR professionals know a lot about a lot, and the knowledge didn’t fall from the sky. Instead, the best HR pros can claim a commitment to
    life-long learning, because stuff is always changing, and employees want (and deserve) answers.

    That said, no one knows everything, and that’s where customer service comes along. If HR doesn’t have the answer, they should be darn sure to inform whoever’s asking that they’ll get the answer—and then promptly follow through.

  3. HR focuses on stupid stuff.
    Your staff has serious problems that need attention. Bad management. Underperforming employees. Overworked departments. Tight budgets. Lagging sales, or maybe, all the challenges that come with rapid growth.

    But, while everyone else in the company is sorting out the important issues, HR is in a corner somewhere trying to drum up participation for an upcoming CPR training that no one asked for, no one needs, and no one wants to attend.

    SOLUTION:
    Invite HR to the party.
    If HR is focusing on matters of insignificance on a regular basis, it’s probably because they don’t have any matters of significance to handle. Why not? HR pros provide a much-needed and unique perspective to your company goings-on. HR understands your culture, and they know a lot about your employees. If you’ve hired wisely, HR also knows a lot about your business. Put that knowledge to good use.

  4. HR is powerless to resolve problems.
    Frankly, your HR department has no juice. Toxic manager? Oh well. HR is sympathetic but can’t offer more than a listening ear and a box of tissues.

    SOLUTION:
    Give HR some juice.
    Employees really do need someone to have their backs every now and again, and it’s to your benefit when they do. If an employee can’t get his issue addressed inside the organization, he may be motivated to go outside the organization. Not good.

  5. HR can’t keep a confidence.
    It’s an open secret at the company that HR is full of gossip mongers and other untrustworthy types that no one in his right mind would ever entrust to keep a secret.

    SOLUTION:
    It may actually be time to clean house.
    Oh man, this is bad. An HR professional who blabs employee business simply may be unsuited to the job. This is HR 101.

Yes, there are many ways for your HR department to get it wrong. But, there are many ways to get things right, too. Turning your department’s reputation around might be a matter of new talent, improved talent, more support from you, or a combination of the above. But whatever it takes, it’s worth it.

Like I said. Awesome.

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27 Comments on "5 reasons your HR department is driving everyone crazy (and what you can do about it)"

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Don Phin
Guest
2 years 4 months ago
Great article and oh so true. As with any role in a company there are those who want to be excellent and then there are those who want to be comfortable. Unfortunately you can’t be both. This type of HR exec may be limited in their abilities to address these opportunities either due to a lack of experience, skills or motivation. While you can invite folks to step up to the plate they may not have the ability to do so. In my experience it is the rare HR executive who lives up to the standard set forth in this… Read more »
Joe
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Joe
2 years 4 months ago

This is a good article overall and some useful stuff for my particular company.  However, the solution to number 4 is like telling a rock to run.  How does HR give itself more juice?  I’d love to inject some juice but when the “client drives the business” and that dreadful manager gets things done for the client who loves them… Good luck HR.  Here’s a box of tissues.

R.J.C.
Guest
R.J.C.
2 years 4 months ago

Interesting article.  However when your organization is one that (A) is not willing or able to invest any resources into HR, (B) puts a manager in place with NO previous HR knowledge because they don’t know what else to do with him, and (C) rewards their HR professionals who flirt with those in power and/or “play the game” really well, it makes it very difficult for those of us who truly love what we do to do it well and with the passion it deserves.

GSM
Guest
GSM
2 years 4 months ago
I agree wth everything in this article.  Having been an HR professional for 30+ years I have seen this coin from both sides – the company executive with a seat in the C-Suite and from the up-and-coming HR person.  I can tell you that if management doesn’t want to embrace change, even when it is the law, and they actually want to keep HR in the corner so they aren’t being told they should stop doing something, it makes it tough for HR.  Maybe there is a reason they have retreated to their “cube farm”.  But the best HR folks… Read more »
Sandy
Guest
Sandy
2 years 4 months ago

I get so frustrated with these types of articles about why HR is ineffective, Why CEO’s “hate” HR, etc. etc. As business leaders, these HR departments are a reflection of the roads being built by the company, not necessarily the lack of talent or oversight of HRP’s. It screams: “Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way.

Crystal Spraggins
Guest
2 years 4 months ago

“Most people, HR or otherwise, have quite a bit to say and offer, and are just waiting to be asked!”

Amen to that!

Crystal Spraggins
Guest
2 years 4 months ago

@Sandy. I agree. I’ve said more than once that leadership gets the HR department it deserves. What I’d like to encourage with this article, however, is for more leaders to see the potential in their HR departments, because that’s to everyone’s advantage.

Crystal Spraggins
Guest
2 years 4 months ago

@RJC. I know, it sucks. I just want to say to management, “Don’t do that!!” It’s a waste and, as you say, makes it hard for those of us who love this profession–and I do love it!

Crystal Spraggins
Guest
2 years 4 months ago

@Joe. Lol. 

Yeah, that’s a tough one. I’d have to speak with you personally to strategize about that. (Seriously, you can call me.) 

Crystal Spraggins
Guest
2 years 4 months ago

“…there remains so much opportunity available for great HR!”

Yes, indeed! My wish is that more CEOs/COOs/CFOs would realize that!

Maria
Guest
Maria
2 years 4 months ago

It cannot be explained better than this, so true.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia
2 years 4 months ago
There should be more articles about CEO’s ability to correctly function in the new business model, and understand and embrace HR as an instrumental partner.  I’m tired of hearing how HR needs to step it up, when we are inundated with more responsibilities than most other Execs (eg: Purchasing, Sales, Project Mgrs only responsible for their area _ HR you name it we have responsibility for it, safety, hiring, terms, legal, ee relations, benefits, discipline etc. all company wide) and unable to effect change because CEO’s don’t want us to ruffle any feathers, won’t hold others accountable, poo poo any ideas from HR because… Read more »
Stan
Guest
Stan
2 years 4 months ago

what was discussed under closed doors and what needs to be shared to employees are what hr is being blamed for…so i agree come up with articles as well for CEO/COO/CFOs to understand and utilize properly their hr…again…given the opportunity… hr has big potential to make the company better place for everyone..

Mike
Guest
Mike
2 years 2 months ago

Cynthia on march 20th hit the target.

We need power from the top to drive change.

Mark
Guest
Mark
2 years 26 days ago

Unfortunately, as an HR professional with 15 years experience, I have seen time and time again the bureaucracy that exists within the HR department, especially for HR candidates. For some reason HR hires to the level of their own mediocrity. HR is one of the departments that is most threatened by hiring top talent. They are also the department most likely to operate in silos. We know that only an integrated HR function can deliver outstanding services, yet, they still won’t do it. 

 

Mark
Guest
Mark
2 years 26 days ago

Unfortunately, as an HR professional with 15 years experience, I have seen time and time again the bureaucracy that exists within the HR department, especially for HR candidates. For some reason HR hires to the level of their own mediocrity. HR is one of the departments that is most threatened by hiring top talent. They are also the department most likely to operate in silos. We know that only an integrated HR function can deliver outstanding services, yet, they still won’t do it. 

 

Mark
Guest
Mark
2 years 26 days ago

Unfortunately, as an HR professional with 15 years experience, I have seen time and time again the bureaucracy that exists within the HR department, especially for HR candidates. For some reason HR hires to the level of their own mediocrity. HR is one of the departments that is most threatened by hiring top talent. They are also the department most likely to operate in silos. We know that only an integrated HR function can deliver outstanding services, yet, they still won’t do it. 

Academic Essay Writing
Guest
2 years 11 days ago

Every business should have good hr because .Its that department which not only keep business data but also try to make company a good place to work for workers.

Academic Essay Writing Service
Guest

Every business should have good hr because .Its that department which
not only keep business data but also try to make company a good place to
work for workers.

Essay Writers
Guest
2 years 10 days ago

Every business should have good hr because .Its that department which

not only keep business data but also try to make company a good place to

work for workers.

Andrea
Guest
Andrea
2 years 5 days ago

This article really saddens me. What HR departments do these people in question work for and in what roles? I agree with some of the above comments that change needs to be driven and that support needs to come from the top, but if you’re making financial errors that are impacting employees and the organization overall, providing misinformation on basic laws, and pushing initiatives that are valueless, then this is how your department is going to be viewed and treated. In order to be respected, you must earn respect, and that comes from within.

IWI
Guest
IWI
2 years 4 days ago

At the heart of every successful business is HR…. I feel sad after reading this surely every CEO/CFO knows that people are the emotional, inspirational and sometimes the confrontational.

SR
Guest
SR
1 year 10 months ago
I have to say HR is the only function I ever hear being so publicly critical of it’s own role and value in business. Having built and turned around several global HR functions over the last 25 years it really is not so difficult. Hire good people, get them focused on the right things, build business support, get the level of resourcing right and DELIVER. Each time it has worked. The pivotal question is whether the business want an effective HR capability, as some of the comments above suggest, if there support is not in place, every effective HR action… Read more »
Bob
Guest
Bob
1 year 8 months ago

How about the fear and toxic blame culture a poor hr dept can cause, I work in local government and started 12 months ago confident highly qualified and skilled, now I’m no longer confident, under utilised, depressed and at times suicidal

Ann
Guest
Ann
1 year 8 months ago
With 30 years as a general counsel, an HRO and now as the president of a multi-billiion dollar revenue company, I can tell you that people should look closely at these criticisms. They smack of “pink collar” mentality. Women still dominate the function and this type of insidious discrimination has existed and continues to exist.. I fought hard to eradicate these stereotypes and after 30 years it is sad to see that “Payscale.com” would put out such inflamatory and unsubstantiated stereotype of the function that is their lifeblood. Shame on you. Please remove me from your mailing list.
Zipline Performance
Guest
Zipline Performance
1 year 2 months ago
Items 1-3 and 5 above are direct results of number 4. If you want your company’s HR department to be staffed by highly qualified, dedicated HR experts, then you have to make room at the Executive table for the HR practice leader. And the seat offered has to be an actual seat, not just the “oh, we let HR come to these meetings so they think they’re important.” When you have an engaged HR practice leader as a member of the management team, these other issues go away (and you are likely to see a workforce performance increase). 1) Get… Read more »
HR Person
Guest
HR Person
4 months 12 days ago

Human Resources is as good as the people running it.

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