During my career I have met 2 different kinds of HR people. At my first job after university, working for a large German non-profit organization, we used to joke all the time “to not make eye contact” and “to not draw attention to yourself” if you meet the HR Manager in the hallway. Sadly though, it was more than a joke. We – as in the younger generation of staff on entry-level jobs- avoided HR like the plague. Over the years, as I progressed into an HR role myself, I vowed to treat people differently. I have since met many great HR leaders, people that genuinely care about their profession, the people that work for them and the culture of their workplaces. But I have also I have seen new HR Managers land on the scene of a new project or job and tell people as their first course of action “to get their shit together and do their job”. Unfortunately, these kinds of people are still out there.
It’s no wonder that traditionally, HR people have a bad rep – the corporate ivory tower inhabitant that only shows up when people get fired. So really – you don’t ever want to see them! I have understood over the years that this perception is generational. I learned this the hard way working with a lot of tradespeople that were in later stages of their careers. If I asked people to come to my office, they always assumed that they are in trouble or getting fired.
Of course, things have changed, and they continue to change. HR people have become stakeholders that can help shape a company’s face and success. McLean & Company’s 2023 HR trends report states that “HR’s effectiveness and strategic partnership are stronger than ever”. As a matter of fact, HR staff and consultants all over the world have long had a much bigger portfolio than just “hiring and firing people”. They build relationships inside and outside of the company, they raise organizational awareness on human capital and human issues, they help build a company’s resilience and supply emotional intelligence. They have their valuable share in corporate design and branding – even if that” only” means hiring people that align with the corporate values and image.
So “good” HR people that are approachable and genuine add a lot of value to a company. They can be a partner and resource of trust for both management and employees. If an employee trusts their HR person, they will more likely take a complaint to them rather than take it outside and they will more likely communicate expectations and the motivation to change and advance before just quitting and jumping ship. Or they seek help and advice with a difficult situation or work relationship before things turn sour. In other words, a “good” HR is vital for a employment experience, a healthy workplace culture and the retention of top talent.