When I decided to pursue a career in HR over nine years ago, it was admittedly with rose-colored glasses and a lot of heart. Every fiber in me was dedicated to the craft of the discipline and I wanted to truly understand the motivations behind work behaviors.
Year one of my career, I learned something different. Instead, I found out that HR was a figurehead for the company and that some of us care more about resources than the human.
That year, I had a boss who I escalated a sexual harassment claim to. He questioned the validity of my concern and tried to convince me I was overreacting. He claimed to follow through on my complaint, but ultimately there was no resolution other than him allegedly letting the other party know I was uncomfortable. I guess being swatted on your behind wasn’t obvious or blatant enough.
Year two through five, I learned that unethical behavior, political positioning, and harassment were not tolerated on paper, but in practice- HR was at the forefront of these agendas in the organizations I worked for. From not paying contractors for their time worked due to cash flow issues to patients that were unnecessarily tested to make a dollar, there seemed to be a never-ending list of permissible behaviors that HR aided and abetted in these organizations.
I studied hard in my Industrial Organizational Courses and made top grades. Very little of it prepared me for the inevitable reality of working in HR. We tell young professionals to do an internship- better yet- do more than one. I did an internship and I loved it. It didn’t prepare me for the ugliness and total disregard for humans I encountered working in HR.
My experiences are not relative to every HR, but in speaking with colleagues and employees over the years- it certainly represents a significant portion of HR departments out there. It is a very dangerous and damaging game to play when mal-intent and unethical behavior enters an arena that has branded itself as a discipline dedicated to uplifting humans in an effort to drive positive business outcomes.
When an employee has to get legal counsel involved because they cannot trust their HR department to do what is right on their behalf during a reduction-in-force- there is a problem.
When HR Business Partners tell you that filing a harassment complaint against your manager may not bode well for your career- there is a problem. This is particularly true when you have evidence that should raise concern.
Furthermore, when employees are either carried out of your establishment on stretchers to an Emergency Room or have significant health problems due to stress and aggravation- it is a sure sign that you are treating your people more like a resource and not a human.
Why am I still in HR?
Good question. I am amazed I made it this long. All I can say is- I still believe in this discipline. I believe in the power of putting your talent first and ensuring that they are always set up to succeed. I am a hopeless optimist that hopes that there will be a renaissance in HR one day soon; where businesses and HR alike learn that abusing employees will never garner you success.
Moral: If you have ever led the cavalry in one of these situations I described, please stop the madness. If you don’t like people or HR, find a new vocation. If employees aren’t working out either work with them or manage them out, but for the love of God stop bringing down the entire discipline with your malicious practices.
Interested in getting back to putting your talent first, contact us.