Why Many Employees Hate the HR and How You Can Turn this Situation Around

The Human Resources has been called by many names but being “employee-friendly” isn’t one of them. Why do employees resent this department so much?

In a nutshell, most employees think of the HR as the police department of the business.

“Do nothing wrong and you’re fine. Do something wrong and they start asking questions.”

Here are 12 reasons why most employees resent this “employee-friendly” department (sarcasm alert).

#1 They’re usually there to protect the company and not the employee

Duality and misrepresentation — the human resources is often advertised as an employee-friendly organization. Unfortunately, for most employees, they don’t see it this way. They see the HR as the executioner bent to follow whatever the management bids them. It’s the bosses first, then employees last.

#2 They sit miles away

The lack of interaction between the HR and the employees creates a rift between them. How will the HR champion the common good if they’re just tucked away in an office somewhere, far from the employees they’re supposed to get to know and serve?

#3 They don’t treat humans as humans

Human Resources — the name itself implies that humans are seen as a resource. Like electric or gas, if they can get it cheaper elsewhere, they go elsewhere. If an employee doesn’t have enough output, they employ strategies to boost his productivity. Or worse, find someone better and replace him. Employees don’t like to be treated as pawns. They want to be treated as human beings.

#4 They threaten employees

Here’s a Reddit post from an employee:

“Every single employee must stop whatever trivial actual-work thingy they are doing RIGHT NOW RIGHT AT THIS VERY SECOND and spend an hour listening to this Very Important video about Diversity. It’s COMPULSORY OR ELSE YOU ARE FIRED. And then print out your certificate and display it in your cubicle – IF YOU DON’T HAVE IT WE WILL FIRE YOU BECAUSE IT IS COMPULSORY”

This is a memo sent by the HR of Company X every month. While it’s not easy to get employees to “drink their medicine,” I think the HR should be more careful with words. Fear-based motivators will only build more distrust and resentment.

#5 They are very incompetent

Employees go to HR for help and guidance but often find them untrained and with little experience. A common complaint is that most HR staffs don’t know what they are doing because they were just pulled off from another department in the company.

#6 They put more emphasis on policies than on people

It’s never easy to be working in HR. Just imagine being stuck between the wishes of employees and the will of the management. Nonetheless, HR people who consistently pull the policies card will just get more flak than respect.

#7 They don’t focus on what’s real

The Human Resources often get a lot of ill will because they tend to be so fanatical about theories and how things should be perfectly executed. Unfortunately, this business-management utopia is not real. Employees are facing harsh realities every day that affects their work and personal lives. If only the HR could see that, I will not be writing this post.

#8 They overcomplicate things

I grew up watching my mother taking her work at home because of all the paperwork the HR and management needs. This should not be the case. Human Resources representatives should be there to simplify the lives of employees and the management — thus making them more productive.

Excessive paperwork and long complex commentaries on simple topics drive a wedge between the employees and the HR.

#9 They don’t have direct answers

Imagine bringing your car to a technician for an electrical repair. You asked him how much the cost will be. Instead of saying its $100 plus tax, he says, “I’ll have to verify that with my manager. It’ll take about 36 hours to get you a rough estimate of the costs.”

How will you feel? Do you think the technician has your best interest in mind? Employees feel the same way every time they visit the HR and the reps don’t have direct answers for them.

#10 They are not objective and fair

Unfortunately, many HR staff members fail to acknowledge a legitimate employee point of view because they want to keep their job, earn a bigger paycheck, or get that next promotion. The HR is also often seen supporting the managers over employees regardless of evidence.

#11 They are too involved in office politics

The HR has a tarnished reputation of sucking up to executives. In addition to their lack of objectivity in handling cases, they also make their dealings with employees political. Position and job title dictate how the HR interacts with people in the workplace.

#12 They focus on nitpicky issues instead of the real problem

I know someone from the HR who always clamour about employees not wearing the proper dress code or IDs at work. While this is important, these kinds of trivial issues should not take precedence over big, real problems like lack of employee morale and employee turnovers. Employees hate the HR because they seem to be completely oblivious to an escalating problem but tend to be super attentive to nitpicking and nagging over minor issues.

3 Things the HR can do Differently

Despite its tarnished reputation, the Human Resources can still change and gain the respect of employees. Here are three things the HR can start doing differently today.

#1 Focus on the people

“Employees engage with employers and brands when they’re treated as humans.” – Meghan Biro

Putting people at the heart of every HR practices is a great way to rid the HR of its lack-lustre stigma. To succeed, the HR should spend more time with employees, create a sense of belongingness in the workplace, and champion the cause of the majority.

Appreciation and recognition are also key. It is human nature to want to be valued. And seeing the HR at the head of these efforts will bring the respect it rightfully deserves. Just be careful though — employee appreciation must be focused on merits.

Focusing on people also means that the HR must be able to communicate clearly and effectively the wishes of the employees to the top management. HR reps should keep not only the common workers but also the management in check. If the management passes on orders that are clearly unhealthy to employees (such as salary and benefit cuts), the HR should not just suck up to it because the management says so.  Remember, employees, want their HR reps to be objective and fair.

#2 Focus on increasing competence

“Human Resources isn’t a thing we do. It’s the thing that runs our business.” – Steve Wynn

Employees look to the HR as their guide and voice in the workplace. Incompetent HR reps are a turnoff. HR directors should focus on training their staff so they can serve the employees better.

HR reps should not be random people pulled from accounting or other organizations in the company. They should have the skills, educational background, and experience. In short, they should know what they are doing.

The HR is not just about paperwork nowadays. They should also be well-equipped to develop an HR strategy that’ll drive the business forward. With more time and by avoiding nitpicking employees on trivial matters, the HR can focus on big-picture plans like:

  • Developing training programs for employees to reach their full potential
  • Engaging employees
  • Creating competitive compensation
  • Developing methods to reward and retain hard working employees
  • Developing best practices in measuring employee performance

#3 Streamlining processes using HR technology

Employees are tired of paperwork and complicated workflows. With Millennials making up over 50% of the current workforce, the HR has no choice but to embrace technology to meet both employees and business expectations.

And it’s a good thing.

With technology, the HR can simplify a lot of time-consuming processes like employee onboarding, timesheets, scheduling, expenses, etc.

Technology is HR’s friend. And with all the advances we are enjoying today, HR tech is no longer limited to standalone or cloud-based applications. There’s also Artificial Intelligence and chatbots designed to assist the HR in every way possible — be it in recruiting, training employees, benefits enrolment, answering common questions, and annual reviews.

For instance, CakeHR’s Slackbot uses AI to assist employees in filing and processing leave requests. With this app, employees can book any time off from Slack, check policy balances, and see who is out of the office during the day — all without talking to a single HR rep in the office!

“Working together, HR bots and your HR team can revolutionize your business, lessen bureaucracy, and grant your employees greater independence.” – Norberts Erts

 The biggest benefit of streamlined processes is TIME. With more time, the HR can now focus on what matters most to the employees and the business.

“If I can change and you can change, everybody can change.” – Rocky Balboa

Despite the negative stigma that HR has gained over the past decades, it still can change. By focusing on people, increasing its core competencies, and using technology to streamline its processes, the HR will eventually earn the respect it’s been yearning for years.


Written By

Lenmark Anthony Baltazar

I have been living a life of HR for as long as I can remember. My experiences helped me realize that true happiness comes from being a blessing to the lives of others. I hope my skills and talents will be a blessing to you as well.