Looking for assistance at work, or want to understand the people plan? Here are six jobs the HR department can help you with:
1) Career Planning
While it’s true that the HR department serves the needs of the company first, that’s a wider umbrella than you might think. Helping good employees work to advance their careers is part of helping the business as a whole succeed.
Talk to your HR manager about your middle and long-term career goals; she can often provide concrete guidance that gets you on your way towards them. If you’re interested in working toward a CFO position, for example, she can show you which of your skills you need to improve and which roles within the organisation might help build them up.
This is a good idea because making HR aware of your aspirations may pay off unexpectedly in the future. When high-level leaders look to expand the team into new areas, having made HR familiar with your goals may give you a head start on advancement.
2) Managerial Issues
“Managers are people too” explains Matthew Bould from the bookkeeping department, “and they all have their strengths and weaknesses.” You may find yourself reporting a manager whose professional and personal skills clash with your own. The HR department is the place to seek help in this situation.
Just remember to focus on solving the problem rather than assigning blame when you discuss your manager with HR. Concentrate on solutions that will benefit everyone and shape your wording to that end. For example, try opening with something like: “Martha and I seem to spend a lot of time butting heads. Do you have any advice on how we can get along better?”
3) Whistle Blowing
If your company is a larger one, it might have dedicated resources in place for handling violations of laws, policies or regulations. There might be an anonymous tip line in place, for example, or a specific manager who takes responsibility for violation reports. With or without such resources, you can always take such matters to the HR department. They’ll take the appropriate next steps and launch an investigation if necessary.
4) Personal Issues
While your HR representatives aren’t paid to give you therapy or confidential advice, you should be aware of the many things they can do to help you when you’re struggling. (When it comes to confidentiality, note that your HR manager should be completely upfront about what they can and cannot keep confidential – in some matters, like sexual harassment, they are bound by law to investigate wrongdoing.)
When your personal problems affect your performance at work, your HR manager may be able to help. If you’re struggling to manage a mountain of debt or undergoing a nasty break-up, the HR department can show you all of the relevant resources the company makes available to help. The HR team can do a surprising amount to help you when your life feels like it’s slipping out of your control.
5) Medical Issues
Do you have a serious ongoing health problem in your immediate family? What about a pregnancy? Talk to HR about it to make sure you have full protection under the law. While your organisation may have helpful resources available in these circumstances, conferring with HR in cases like these is really about protecting yourself. Make the HR department fully aware of medical issues so that any interference they have with your work is not held against you.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your immediate superiors will understand if you need to take time off to deal with a medical emergency. Clear everything with HR to ensure you won’t be held accountable for things like violating the company’s attendance policy.
6) Legal Advice
While the HR department is not set up to serve as legal counsel (for you or the company), is a helpful first stop to make when you suspect an issue may develop legal ramifications. Sexual harassment, lawsuit threats from customers, questionable inquiries from law enforcement — get a better understanding of the situation by speaking to HR and following the guidance they provide.