A Personnel Letter


Dear Employee,

I know you believe with your heart and head that HR (traditionally known as the Personnel department) is a good-for-nothing department. You think that we come to work just to idle away our time and get salaries for free. And that our only job is to hire people and making your salaries (apart from making rangolis and organizing office parties).
I know you blame us for all the awful things that happen to you at work (or may be at home too!). Even when you are late for office in the morning because you woke up late, you must be blaming us for the office location being ten kilometres away from your residence. I am sure, you find a way to blame us for your constipation every morning too! Well, you sure do have a lot many preconceived notions and misconceptions about us and I am sick and tired of your cheap jibes. So here are some things that you should know.
We are the interface between the management and you. So the truth is we get bashed up on both sides. We need to play the role of a mediator and strike a balance between the you too but ultimately end up becoming the unpopular lot. For the good things, the management takes credit; for the bad things, we take the beating.

No, our only job is not to hire people and making your salaries. Our role starts even before we know you. We help departments in making manpower plans and hiring people. We help to screen prospective employees, and put up a fight to bring in the best and honest people to the organization. We are responsible for all the aspects of an employee’s life cycle and even beyond. We are loathed for our processes, systems, procedures and policies. But can’t you see? We do all this to have a healthy working environment and a healthy organization. We are the custodian of the key to the DNA of our organization (but sometimes it is snatched away by higher powers).

Training is not the sole job of HR. Many things and skills are learn-able at your own level, provided you have the attitude to learn. So stop expecting that we will be giving you vocabulary lessons! Your managers are your foremost trainers and mentors. We can provide you specific development opportunities only when your managers let us know about your potential. Ditto when it comes to your promotions and increments. So talk to them! Let them know about your accomplishments, requirements and expectations. The next time you start cursing us for your peanut increment, remember that we are not the ones who draw any pleasure from your poor increment.
When the washroom is not clean or you have a problem with your parking space, please don’t come to us. You are supposed to contact the office admin person. Yes my dear, HR and Office Admin are two different activities.

No, we are not snobs. We are forced to put up poker faces to stop you from making illogical statements and unreasonable accusations. And no, we don’t know about everything that is happening in the organization (even if we want to) and we are not gossip mongers. So, please don’t try to befriend us for inside information’s sake!

But yes, you can come to us when something’s bothering you, when you don’t know how to handle a certain situation and need advice. We will surely try to help you to the best of our abilities. And if we can’t help, we will let you know.
You might not have encountered the best of HR people in your professional life. But you can’t think poorly of us based on your prejudices. It is like saying that all salespeople are liars and all accountants are nerds. So give us a chance and understand that negative perceptions can be broken only through better experiences. And it goes both ways.

Depending on the size and type of organization and its goals and culture, HR’s role in an organization ranges from hygiene to strategic. At heart, our role remains to ensure an ethical organization, to have organized systems, to streamline activities and avoid chaos, to promote well-being of employees. We strive to have a positive workplace, to keep people connected. After all, happy employees are productive and effective employees, aren’t we? We are constantly trying to find ways to bring people together, to nurture team spirit, to promote positivity and encourage work-life balance. We often have to challenge orthodox managers for that, and we seldom succeed at one go but we never give up. But we can’t do things alone. 

Every department in an organization has a role to play, and none can work in isolation. And each have their own limitations. So next time you try to take a jab at us, try looking at a mirror too. Hence, instead of always finding fault with each other,  we need to work in tandem. Together we can make our workplace a better place.
With best regards,
Your HR team.

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