HR myths busted: “You only see HR when someone’s about to be hired or fired”

HR myths busted: “You only see HR when someone’s about to be hired or fired”

If you only think of HR as the department of hiring and firing, you’re missing out on a whole load of business-wide benefits

“Want to experience real power? Walk along the shop floor with a file and clipboard. It’s the signal that a termination is about to happen.”

So then, what else does HR do?

  • Much of what HR teams do is invisible to the majority of people within a company. We take for granted that when we apply to join an organisation, there will be a careers portal and online application process. Similarly, when we are offered a job, we expect to be sent a contract and a set of instructions for our first day. It’s usually someone in HR who makes those things happen.
  • We also take for granted that our workplace will be safe and not contribute negatively to our health, wellbeing and performance. Again, someone in HR had a hand in how the workplace was designed and how wellbeing is supported at work.

  • Many employees only see HR when there’s bad news to be delivered, or when a challenging conversation needs to take place. The truth is that HR teams work constantly to help everyone be at their best.

When you’re being considered for a role

  • HR is the custodian of fairness, equality and inclusion in any business. This means that they’ll put systems and processes in place to make sure that you’re not discriminated against. You may not see them at any point during the selection process, but if you’re treated with dignity and respect, we’ve done our job right.

When you’re on a course or training session at work

  • HR includes Learning & Development, a team of professionals whose sole purpose is to improve your knowledge, skills, qualifications and understanding, so that you can take your career where you want it to go.

When you’ve been given a bonus, incentive or reward

  • HR might not be there when you get the news, but reward and recognition are a key part of any positive organisational culture. It’s HR’s job to make that happen.

When you’re being promoted or moved into a new role

  • HR makes sure that this process is fair and equitable. They’ll update the legal documents and contracts so that you’ve got what you need, they’ll instruct payroll to increase your pay (if that’s part of the job change), and they’ll support your manager to provide any additional training or resources you need in your new role.

How can managers and leaders get more from their HR teams?

  • Firstly, don’t see your HR team as a blocker to getting things done at work. They’re not there to tell you what you can’t do; rather, HR teams are chomping at the bit to help you do what you want to do.
  • Proactive HR teams want to partner with you, understand your business and enable your people to give their best. Of course, there are times when we need to tell managers why something can’t be done for either a legal or regulatory reason, but this isn’t a negative thing: it’s preventing you from wasting your time and effort on activities that don’t stack up.
  • Secondly, keep a regular and open dialogue with your HR Team – it’s a two-way street. HR practitioners have access to lots of tools, information and ideas that can really help you and your business to fly.
  • Work with your HR Team on your strategic plan. We can help you with better (and often streamlined) ways to set up your teams, set performance expectations, reward and recognise good performance, deal with challenging issues and help build a positive culture at work.

In short, by treating your HR team as a business partner and not a barrier, you’ll get a ton of value back in return.

Don't know where to start when it comes to supporting your team through the Cost of Living Crisis?

We are passionate about finding ways to help bosses do the best they can to look after their people.

Some of what we’ve outlined here is simple, but implementing activity that’s targeted to help those that need it most often gets businesses in a pickle. Primarily because they get bogged down about treating all employees the same.

If you need help to work how to support those that need it in a way that’s fair and legal, then please drop us a line. We’d be happy to talk to you.

People, not personnel: the evolving role of HR in modern businesses


From keeping things legal to boosting productivity, HR has come a long way since the personnel departments of years gone by

Imagine a time when offices were filled with cigarette smoke and rows of typists. At the end of the corridor, there’s an office with a big leather chair for the boss. You’re probably thinking of the 1960s and 70s right now, maybe Mad Men (the AMC TV Show) – hopefully not your most recent job at a contact centre!

Somewhere in this imaginary retro office, there’s a personnel department. While they’re responsible for keeping basic admin records about the workforce, the personnel administrators and managers definitely don’t have a seat at the table when it comes to making business-wide decisions.

Now let’s fast-forward to the third decade of the 21st century. Most of us want to forget 2020 – the working from home, the lay-offs, the closures and redundancies, learning how to lead a team remotely while keeping everyone engaged and happy. 

The personnel department from yesteryear wouldn’t have been involved in this kind of thing, but luckily we’ve moved on a bit since then. These days we have people teams instead of personnel departments, and they’re here to help your business and its workforce remain productive and satisfied no matter what the future has in store.


People and personnel: what’s the difference?


The term personnel is a bit old hat now, but for a long time it was the foundation for the way that businesses handled issues within their staff. Personnel departments traditionally fulfilled an administrative role, and were limited in their ability to create a positive culture within the workplace.

But workplaces have changed a lot in the last 50 years, from the organisational systems we use to the role of leadership within companies. What used to be the personnel department has evolved to meet the needs of modern businesses: it’s now more common to hear about people teams, who act as partners with your business and help leaders to make decisions that will benefit both businesses and the people who work for them.

People teams use consumer-standard technology to automate low-value admin tasks, which gives them more time to spend with business leaders. Unlike the personnel department heads of years gone by, people directors often have a seat at the top table, guiding leaders and supporting the business to make sustainable decisions. Their teams are involved in a number of key business roles: recruitment and onboarding, designing and evaluating training, developing a strong pipeline of talented workers, and tackling some of the most significant issues your business will ever face (like a global pandemic, for example).


Enabling, not just enforcing

AK standing with client.png

Of course, people teams also have the important role of managing risk in an organisation and ensuring that the legal aspects of employment are dealt with in an ethical and lawful way. Some of the tasks your HR or people team will take care of include:


Pre-employment checks

so you don’t employ anyone inappropriate or in a way that would breach legislation. (This is going to become even more important as the Brexit transition period ends and the UK immigration rules change on 1st January 2021.)

Championing integrity in the workplace

many businesses commission third parties to host their confidential disclosure hotlines so that employees and suppliers can report wrongdoing or corruption in confidence. When a report is made, people teams deal with them sensitively and swiftly to protect your business.


Managing complex grievance, absence and disciplinary matters

so you don’t break the law when it comes to dealing with tricky issues.


your business won’t look the same in 10 years as it does now. People teams will help you to design a sustainable structure and navigate your way through the restructure process



The right HR consultant for your business

As you can see, there’s a lot that a dedicated people team or consultant can help your business with. To learn more about the role I play for businesses as an independent HR practitioner, take a look at the services I offer, or get in touch for a friendly chat.



Image credits

The cast of Mad Men (AMC)

Typewriter photo by Min An from Pexels

Photo of Andrew Knight by Nick Morrish from Nick Morrish Photography