Why HR Doesn’t Protect You

One of the common misperceptions of Human Resources Departments is that they are there to protect and advocate for the employees. They should be there to protect and advocate for the employees because happy employees are necessary for a business to succeed. That doesn’t mean that HR should always take the employee’s side. They should take the overall picture of employee happiness into consideration. If you’re a slacker or a jerk, HR should be the department advocating for you to be “transitioned out” of the organization.

But, in many companies, HR is spineless. I received the following email from a reader. His company had changed the schedules without consulting employees. The employees complained and this followed:

Many employees complained to HR and HR said, “If you feel that the new work schedule will not work for some of you and you don’t agree and don’t sign the paper consider yourself no longer an employee of the company. We are not here to accommodate to you but to what’s best for the company.” Most of the employees took this as they were being threatened with their job if they did not agree and didn’t sign the paper. Why didn’t HR protect us?

Why indeed? Now, not knowing the details behind the working hours change, I have no idea whether the request was reasonable or unreasonable, but the employees obviously didn’t feel like it was reasonable. Why didn’t HR stand up and say “Hey, you can’t do this to the employees?”

To keep reading, click here: Why HR Doesn’t Protect You

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13 thoughts on “Why HR Doesn’t Protect You

  1. This is a really great article. It really shows the struggles that HR folks have to go through. Thank you.

  2. This explains why. These HR personnel are just as concerned about their job as any other employee, so basically it’s every man for themselves.

    1. That’s not fair, or accurate. The HR person cannot say ‘do this or I quit’ every time there’s a disagreement with management. Nor would quitting ensure the managers would do the right thing. So then you’ve quit and they still do the crappy thing, which helps no one.

      1. With 25 years in HR – I have worked for companies where sales ran the business, operations ran the business, but not once has HR ran the business. Barney is right — HR can’t threaten to or actually quit each time their advice isn’t taken. However, I have had the opportunity to state, in a number of occasions when my advice wasn’t taken — ‘I told you so!’

  3. Loved this article! After almost 20 years in HR, I am currently thinking about a career change. I too have been blamed for decisions I did not make or have any input into. Frankly, I am tired of trying to get companies, employees and management to do the right thing.

    1. Last fall I just couldn’t do it any more for these reasons and a few others and left HR after nearly 20 years. I took a 30K year pay cut to change careers, but I have never felt better and am not looking back.

  4. This is very interesting. I always assumed that if the HR person was in on the meeting, they had co-signed the decision with management.

    What if, say, an employee won a harassment/discrimination/retaliation lawsuit against a company — would the HR person (that knew about/administered the employee’s firing, etc) likely be fired for not adequately protecting the company? What if they had objected to the firing? I suppose it would be entirely dependent on the circumstances, but do you document guidance to management to protect yourself in the event they make a bad decision against your input?

    1. Most lawsuits will settle when, in deposition, the HR person has to say, “Yes, I knew that this was happening.”

      Bad managers are going to be bad managers to everyone, so yeah, I’d worry about my job. But i’d worry about my job as soon as they rejected my advice on something serious.

      As I said in the article, though, not every situation is black and white. Those complex situations are where the real scary things are.

      1. So there are occasionally situations where HR is “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” and you are bound by the whims of bad managers. I wonder how often this happens, and if upper management *ever* is accountable for pushing HR into unethical or illegal actions. My guess is almost never.

        1. There definitely are. And employment law isn’t always clear. Sometimes managers get punished. Sometimes HR does. Sometimes both deserve it. sometimes neither does.

  5. If you’re truly evil, dear,
    worship the sinister world
    instead of Almighty God
    and dont repent when the Warning comes,
    then, yes, you belong in Hell.
    1-outta-1 bites-the-dust, baby;
    1-outta-1 will be Divinely Judged,
    even if you dont believe in God,
    based according to the fruits we mortals
    have accomplished.
    1-outta-1 will be placed on the RITE or LEFT…
    you dont wanna be on the LEFT.
    Here, lemme fill-you-up withe efficacious epiphany
    and subliminal epithets of the Great Beyond.

    Let this be your catalyst to Seventh-Heaven:

    ‘The more you shall honor Me,
    the more I shall bless you’
    -the Infant Jesus of Prague
    (<- Czech Republic, next to Russia)

    Love him or leave him or indifferent…
    better lissen to the Don:

    If you deny o'er-the-Hillary's evil,
    which most whorizontal demokrakkrs do,
    you cannot deny Hellfire
    which YOU send YOURSELF to.

    Yes, earthling, I was an NDE:
    the sights were beyond extreme.
    Choose Jesus.
    You'll be most happy you did.
    God bless your indelible soul.
    Google+: kold_kadavr _flatliner

    1. You know, I normally delete spam comments, but I kind of love the name.

      Also, I’ve seen the Holy Infant of Prague.

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