Monday, April 7, 2014

What's not to love about Human Resources?

Someone asked me recently, “You look so young, yet you come with so much experience. How did you get into HR?”

Without giving you my whole resume, here's what happened. I found a job in college that was flexible with scheduling, with an international HR outsourcing corporation called Workscape.  After college, I went to Manpower Staffing, then, after moving from Boise to Idaho Falls, to Advantage Employer Solutions. Finally, I made the big decision to start my own business.

Over 14 years, I've worked with everyone from IBM, GM, Nokia and Whole Foods down to small businesses with one or two employees. From almost the beginning, I recognized I loved HR because I loved working with people. I loved helping people who hadn't received their insurance ID cards and helping people get hired after searching for months. Designing policies and procedures to help streamline business operations -- maybe that wasn’t my favorite part, but I have had the opportunity to do it a lot. HR is a vast array of disciplines and knowledge all centered around a company’s greatest and most valuable resources, its employees.

Because it covers so much, HR can be misunderstood and often hated by both employers and employees. I’ve spoken to a number of business people who loathe anything employment related. In their minds, it’s best to maintain simple HR management. I've also dealt with employees who view the HR department as the company’s KGB for “handling employees.”

The funny thing is, both sides are insanely wrong and could do themselves a big favor by changing their mindset about HR.

Businesses do not have to seek out and hire a true HR professional to maintain great HR management practices. I have seen HR management conducted successfully by office managers, supervisors and business owners. I will say, however, that in order for HR management to be successfully integrated into a business it is important that the person in charge of HR has proper training, experience, knowledge and a steady commitment keep up on the latest developments. There are numerous HR training programs, blogs, newsletters, webinars, organizations, professionals and consultants, all available at the click of a button.

No matter how small, it’s increasingly important for every business to integrate HR management into its organization.  HR management has become the front line for business against potential legal liabilities, but also helps businesses to operate more efficiently and effectively. If you don’t integrate HR management into your organization, I can promise you will continue to have long-term issues that go far beyond losing your last unemployment claim appeals hearing.

For employees, HR professionals are not always the “bad guys.” Ideally, their job is to manage all employment related issues in a fair, impartial and streamlined manner. I understand this doesn’t always happen, but keep in mind most of the time there are probably about 50 things that go into a situation that you will never have any idea of, and a lot of them have to do with employment and labor law compliance. I just ask you to be more open-minded in knowing that their job is to be impartial and fair.

In simple terms for both sides, HR is an advocate of both the business and the worker. While every business may not have a dedicated HR professional in them, those responsible for HR management should in theory be this advocate for both sides of the employment relationship. If that’s the case, what’s not to love about HR?

Monica Bitrick is a human resources consultant based in Idaho Falls. She writes a weekly column on HR issues for BizMojo Idaho.

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