Signs Your HR Department Isn’t Great — and How It Can Be

In many companies, HR is far from the favorite department. Many employees see HR as little more than a necessary evil; a paperwork department that’s best avoided if you can.

Yet HR is so much more than just a department for creating policies and managing benefits. In fact, their role is changing in many places, with HR now getting a seat at the table for strategic planning and decision-making as CEOs recognize their role in marketing, talent recruitment and retention and employee engagement. Still, for all the progress that HR has made in recent years, there are still those departments where the old ways still hold up. If you think that maybe your HR department isn’t doing your company any favors, here are some surefire signs that it’s time for change.

HR Insists on Following Inflexible Rules

Yes, rules and policies are put into place for a reason, and if HR made an exception for everyone who had a good reason, then it wouldn’t take long for chaos to ensue. However, if HR is unwilling to be flexible and evolve with the needs of a changing workforce, then it’s possible that they are going to be spending more time than they want to on hiring. Millennials comprise a significant portion of today’s workforce, and they have expectations from work that previous generations haven’t, such as the ability to telecommute or work more flexible schedules. When HR insists that all employees fit into the same 9-to-5 box, it’s likely that they will lose their millennial workers, which will eventually create a major problem.

Policies for Everyone and Everything

In some companies, HR’s solution to every problem is to create a policy. In one company, HR even developed a policy relating to birthday cards for co-workers and who should purchase and sign them. There is such a thing as too many policies, as eventually, the entire organization becomes bogged down in bureaucracy. Not to mention, excessive policies stifle creativity and prevent real problem solving from happening. Instead of drafting policies, HR should be proactively addressing issues and allowing for more creativity and interpersonal communication.

“You’ll Be a Manager in Six Months!”

In companies where HR does a lot of recruiting, it’s a bad sign when they make promises that they can’t deliver. Promising promotions and salary increases or not telling the whole truth when it comes to benefits or working conditions might get someone in the door, but it’s not going to make them stick around when those promises aren’t fulfilled. Even worse, these false promises could even lead to litigation or breach of contract suits. If your HR is overpromising and under delivering, you have a problem.

“I’ll Take It Under Advisement.”

One of the most common complaints about HR is that the department often solicits feedback from employees, but rarely — if ever — acts on it. Employees report seeing survey after survey but no action plans as a result of the feedback gathered. Studies show that when feedback goes ignored, it actually drives down engagement, so if your HR department keeps asking questions, but never acknowledges the answers, it’s time to find out why.

Problems? What Problems?

The most effective HR departments are those that seek to identify issues and proactively solve them before they become full-fledged problems. However, a bad HR department will treat employees like they are the problem, not offering help and instead acting more like police than a part of the team. A bad HR manager will also pretend to know everything about every situation. Instead of proactively reaching out to legal or another knowledgeable department to make changes or address issues, they wait until something comes up, potentially costing the company big time.

Fixing the Problem

So how do you improve your HR? It all starts with people, and hiring the right ones, but it’s also important that HR understands its role in the organization and isn’t viewed as mere paper pushers. In some cases, the issue stems from keeping too many plates spinning; HR has to handle the paperwork and the minutiae of managing employees, which takes time away from more strategic activities. By working with a company like Nationalpeo.com some of those administrative tasks can be taken off HR’s plate, leaving more time for the other important tasks. For small businesses, outsourcing HR tasks to a professional employee organization helps ensure that everything is handled correctly, and you won’t face any unpleasant surprises.

Above all, improving your company’s HR requires recognizing what isn’t working and taking action to correct it. When you do, you will see results across the board, in the form of a happier, more engaged workforce and higher productivity.

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