This post originally appeared in the Packet Pushers’ Human Infrastructure Magazine. If you’d like to get Human Infrastructure in your inbox twice a month, or read back issues, you can sign up here. We don’t share your info with anyone else.
The Human Resources department exists for two reasons: To protect the company from its employees (not to protect you from the company) and to maintain employee productivity by handling personnel problems.
Any protection you get as a person/employee/salary slave is a random byproduct of the department’s primary mission of protecting the company.
Do not expect the HR team to protect you, defend you, or stand up for you unless it aligns with the company protecting itself from powerful external forces such as government regulations, the press, and public opinion.
The HR people are probably nice. HR people might say things that you want to hear like “We will fight for you” or “We will protect you from abusive behavior.”
But what they really mean is “Our job is protect the company from you.”
It’s likely that the people in HR are ignorantly well-meaning. They will promise action, they will log your request, they will fill out forms and have meetings. They will have a process. This activity that makes them feel like they have done something.
They will honestly, ignorantly assure you that “something is being done” while conveniently ignoring that nothing will change.
HR is not your friend, but it can be used as an ally if its goals align with yours. If you are cunning, you will approach HR in a way that will trigger its antibodies to protect the company from an external threat and solve your problem at the same time.
Human Resources is a collection of processes that hires, fires and maintains “people” (i.e. human resources) for the benefit of the company that pays for them. When you are under pressure, in a difficult situation, or having a personal crisis it’s normal to reach out for help, but HR isn’t about what’s decent or right; it’s about what is best for the company.
Why does this matter? Because the best way to handle any problem with your employer is to move on. Moving solves many career problems and is the best way to achieve promotion, career advancement, and other forms of happiness.