The human resources (HR) department at an organization should be just that – a resource for humans. HR representatives exist to serve as a bridge between management and employees and ensure workplaces are compliant with federal and state employment laws. However, a recent survey of nearly 1,000 American workers found that for most workers, the fear of getting HR involved was much higher than the fear of a problem going unaddressed at work.
When an employee encounters an issue that violates their rights in the workplace, they should feel safe reaching out to their HR manager. But according to the results of the study, the distrust employees feel towards HR is both pervasive and troubling. Roughly seven out of every 10 respondents did not believe HR would ever take the employee’s side. Shockingly, the survey also found that:
- 37% of employees wouldn’t report sexual harassment at work.
- 43% wouldn’t report discrimination at work.
Remarkably, the only topics employees felt comfortable bringing to HR were related to compensation and benefits. In another employee survey that examined how employees view HR, the results found that:
- 46% of employees fear retaliation if they report their problems to HR.
- 39% feared that HR would not fairly handle their complaints.
- Issues reported by men were 26% more likely to be investigated than issues reported by women.
How can employers improve HR?
Amid the pandemic, it’s more important than ever for employers to review their existing HR policies as they relate to the new working world and whether they are still realistic for employees’ needs. Human resources need to be about more than just protecting an organization from a lawsuit – they have an obligation to protect employees’ rights.
Forbes recommends that company’s ask themselves two critical questions when evaluating an HR policy:
- Does the policy align with the corporate mission, vision, values and behaviors?
- Will the policy enhance employee engagement, attraction and retention?
If employees are distrustful of HR and fearful of reporting problems, it can hurt both the success of their career and the overall success of an organization. If a company wishes to earn their employees’ trust, they must ensure that they have real resources for support.