Every month an HR Expert willanswer your questions and/or share thoughts and ideas related to human resources. We want to offer you the opportunity to hear from a real-life HR Managers and Experts.
Who is HR really here for?
This is a complex question that for as many organizations that you know, there will be different ideas: some have solid answers, some have flexible answers, and others will change their answers after an incident occurs that tests it. In my experience many staff believe HR is there to represent them, while the organizations primarily see HR as a support to the management team, and risk manager as it relates to legislation. Throughout my career I have been approached by many employees experiencing difficult workplace issues asking me to assist them in working through the issue or taking their report to a higher level. One situation left me at odds with a key team member when one of their employees came to me about their management style, and I reported it to the CAO. Rebuilding that trust with my direct teammate was challenging while remaining committed to my values that employees need a way to have their concerns heard without fear of reprisal. My conclusion is that it is best to let people manage what they are responsible for, and when help is needed to resolve the issue, others will be invited to the table. It is critical organizational expectations are clearly communicated, and that psychological safety exists between all staff members, at all levels, so that concerns can be discussed and resolved in a respectful manner.
CPHR Duties to Individuals Principle P4 states that members must at all times act in a manner that advances the principles of health and safety, human rights, equity, dignity, and overall well-being in the workplace. The example above shared how looking at the overall well-being in the workplace can depend on the lens you are using, and there are many shades of grey when determining what risks, you are willing to take and the possible outcomes.
I welcome your ideas or questions on this subject, either as an employee, HR professional, CAO, or others. Author of this article is Gail Nowlan (see CIWPB volunteer bio).
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