How Sending My Child to School Taught Me About Why People Hate HR

by Evil HR Lady on September 3, 2008

Posted by Picasa

Me? I’m a fan of transparency, efficiency and as little paperwork as possible. It seems the school system tries to be opaque, mind-numbingly slow and filled with paper. As I navigated the system, I started to think “this is why people hate HR,” because as much as I love letting people know what’s going on, I know not all HR departments are like that.

In order to get Offspring #1 enrolled in school I had to make one trip to the district office, two trips to the doctor’s office (one to get a copy of her vaccination record–which the school needed RIGHT NOW, right now being 6 months before school started), one trip to the dentist and 2 “required” trips to the school itself. (I put “required” in quotes becaused I refused to go to one of them. They wanted me to physically appear on a Thursday, between 9:30 and 11:00 to drop off a form. I said “this is why God gave us the post office” and mailed the form in.) All of these trips involved filling out forms.

Today, I picked the offspring up from her first day of school and received a whole new stack of paperwork–much of it with the same information I had already filled out on numerous other forms. And this must be returned no later than tomorrow.

Things like this drive me absolutely batty. Why do I need to fill out 3 (yes 3) different forms that list my emergency contact numbers? Can you please tell me? I understand the need to make sure about vaccinations and allergies, but what is the purpose for a dental form? When asked the school nurse said, “she can’t go on any field trips without a dental form.” Umm, okay, because you might stop for a couple of fillings and a good cleaning?

Now, let’s talk HR. How often is an inquiry into why a form is needed is, “because it’s policy”? Does everyone in HR even know why? Do we explain that HR needs to sign off on promotions, new hires, etc because we need to check that compensation guidelines aren’t violated, as well as maintaining pay equity across the department? Or do we say, “Just fill out this form.” Worse, are they filling out the form and you are just signing off on it without even reading it?

Do you ever have people fill out the same information more then once? (In case you are saying, “of course not,” stop and think. Do new employees have to fill out an application and new hire paperwork that both ask for name, address, etc?) Are these things filled out on paper and then you pay someone to type it into your HRIS, or does the applicant type it into an online system? If so, does that system transfer the information to your HRIS and Payroll systems?

Here’s another thing that bugged me about registering for school. We had to register no later than February 28. At that point we could request either morning or afternoon kindergarten, but they wouldn’t guarantee either. When did they tell us what we were assigned to? August. Yes August. Why on earth did it take so long? I have no idea. And the explanation I was given was “we haven’t decided how many classes to have.” And when they did send out the assignments, the principal was on vacation, so there was no one to complain to if you got an assignment that you didn’t agree with. The neighboring school principal did the same thing. Can we say hiding from responsibility?

Have you ever tried to get a hold of the actual PERSON who made a bad policy decision? Or does “run-around” come to your mind? If HR wants to make a policy, fine, but we better be willing to stand behind it, answer questions and deal with the fall out.

Why does it take so long to get policies changed? Why does it take 3 weeks to get an exception granted? Why does it take an interminably long time to get a new hire on board? We may have darn good reasons for all of these things, but it’s rarely transparent to the employee. What they see is delay and stalling and answers that are either lies or uninformed.

Note that none of this deals with the actual true responsibility of the schools (educating children) or HR (providing and developing and retaining the best people for the company). It’s all the administrative stuff that must be dealt with. Screw this up and people begin to distrust you on the other things.

Previous post:

Next post: