There is no accounting for what people will think or feel regarding your action. But why take the chance? Is the indiscretion worth the possible damage to your reputation? Is it worth the possible damage to the HR field?
And this is what it all boils down to ...
I've been writing this blog for over two years. I have covered many HR/business-related topics and occasionally I wonder why I still do it. But then I read an article about another HR screw-up that could have been prevented. Or I talk to someone who tells me another story about a friend or relative that's getting screwed over by their HR department. Then I remember why.
The latest story I heard was from an acquaintance whose wife was discouraged from taking FMLA leave. Her company fills all the requirements for offering FMLA and the policy is in the Employee Manual. However, the Human Resource department—behind closed doors— discourages all employees from taking more than two weeks for any reason. Apparently, employees are told taking more than two weeks will be "bad for their career."
When I hear bullshit like this, I want to don some tights and a cape, paint an S and an H and R on my chest, fly into that business, and bring these evil doers to justice. But the only super-power I have is the metaphorical paper and pen. It is my only means to demonstrate my HR activism.
It also appears that my work will never be done. There have been enough bad HR practices and enough people who have experienced it. Add the fact that people don't stay in the same job forever and therefore experience bad HR practices in several work places. This equals an overall distrust in HR and creates the inability for employees to recognize good HR.
I know in HR there are many balls in the air to juggle at any one point in time. You have that hard-to-fill job vacancy—those ever-increasing health insurance costs—the manager who needs an edit button when speaking—the employee who's mad about not getting a raise, telling everyone on Facebook that you eat poop—the notion that every employee needs training for everything—the possibility that you have to release a new hire because they cannot provide documents for their I-9—and the employee that keeps giving you a new phone number every couple of weeks because someone keeps stealing their cell phone.
Couple this with understanding the nuances of operations, budget and IT, and you have a full plate. Add the desert of your responsibility to maintain confidentiality, and you have full course meal that you have to eat alone and clean up afterwards.
I understand these difficulties and their value. I also understand HR cannot take these responsibilities for granted. Even though it may be more enjoyable to only look at big picture issues and pontificate in strategy meetings, it truly is the small stuff you should sweat. If HR wants to maintain credibility and maintain a good image, HR must act with the utmost integrity. HR has to give itself a good name.
Because sometimes we learn more when we focus on what should not be done, here is a short list of how one gives HR a bad name...
- Spreading gossip or protected health information about employees.
- When the only reason you can give is, "Because I said so."
- Create inequity by giving your work friends preferable treatment.
- Break policies that you've enforced on others.
- Having limited knowledge of employment law.
- Lie to save your ass.
While you're thinking and writing, kick it with some Bon Jovi.
And good luck out there.