As a Human Resources professional it’s hard to ignore the level of animosity and mistrust the average employee holds towards the HR department. A 2012 poll conducted on CareerBliss.com showed that 72% of people thought HR is just management’s pawn, while only 21% thought HR supports what’s right and barely 7% though HR actually looks out for employees.
The road to turning this negative stigma around can be long and arduous, but there are ways to impart trust and goodwill among employees. The first and most important step is to clarify your role in the company. Most of the ill will towards HR comes from employees’ realizing their notion that the department exists solely to protect and advocate for them is not actually the case. In truth, HR is a conduit between the company and its employees. A balancing act between what’s best for the company and for the employees, to ensure that employees are satisfied with the company.
So what’s an HR professional to do? Here are a few tips to help turn around negative misconceptions your employees might have:
- Be straightforward. Be up front about what you can or can’t keep confidential and about what you can or can’t disclose to that employee. Stating that your priority is to ensure employee satisfaction, which in turns boosts productivity and profitability, is not the best idea but hiding it is even worse. Don’t be afraid to be straightforward about your role from the start, that way you dispel any misgivings employees might have about your role in the company.
- Be sincere. Employees can sense when you’re insincere or less than truthful. Understanding that you may be privy to some things that cannot be shared with every employee, don’t shy away from sincerity, even if it’s in saying “I’m sorry, but I can’t go into detail about that with you.”
- Be an ally. It’s natural for employees to look to HR as their protector, advocate and even psychologist. Even though in reality you can’t be all these things, what you can be is an ally. Work on explaining to employees that you take their concerns seriously and understand their point of view. Most often than not that attitude will help them see you as more approachable and make your job easier.
- Be meticulous. You may not be able to completely solve every single employee’s issues, but you can make an effort to explain in detail the steps you took and the policies in question. Being detailed about your approach and the result will help the employee understand the ultimately decision better, as well as appreciate your efforts.
- Be tightlipped. In an office setting it’s almost impossible to escape the water cooler talk or the rumor mill. As an HR officer, you will know many things about the workplace and about the employees. It’s crucial to keep this information to yourself. You may have to report to managers and higher level staff, but avoid mentioning anything, even if it seems inconsequential, to other employees.
- Be kind. Some of the issues you handle in the HR department are about policy and procedure. Yet some can be quite sensitive in nature. When employees come to you about a work-related issue, try to put yourself in their shoes and be kind. Showing sensitivity to what they’re going through will make the employee feel better and will make the staff more comfortable about coming to you with their concerns.
- Be consistent. There’s nothing like the power of word of mouth. Employees are likely to talk about their dealings with you among each other, so be consistent in how you approach situations and communicate with them. This way you avoid looking like you give preferential treatment to some.
Remember that as a human resources professional your job is multifaceted and complex. You can’t expect every single employee to be satisfied 100% of the time, but you can work to build trust and confidence among employees. Without simplifying things, think of the golden rule “Treat others as you would like to be treated” when working with employees.
Why Empowering Your Employees Equals Better Business
People want to work in a place where their voice is heard. They want meaningful, rewarding, and enjoyable work. Are you providing such a workplace for your employees? Empowering your workforce can help increase productivity, reduce costs, improve communication, and so much more. Plus, empowered employees are more loyal to the company and engaged in their work.