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Common complaints against office HR departments!
Deeksha Sing and Jo Verde
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March 07, 2008

How often have you come across this situation: you have some complaint that's been forwarded to your company's HR personnel and they have taken ages to move on it?

In any given organization, at any given point in time there will be employees whining about HR practices and how they wish there complainsts were solved as soon as they were posted. While this may not be humanly possible there are ways in which the HR personnel can help comfort their employees for the complaints they have.

In this article we have highlighted top 5 common complaints that employees have against HR teams and our recommendations to HR stakeholders to overcome them.

Concern 1 -- Transparency in communicating organisations expectations to the employees

"Employees hate it when HR comes across as just a puppet of the top management hired to issue instructions. So there is a definitive lack of transparency in their actions. Most HR department and personnel seems like doing a formality and not really into their jobs just following processes so there's no personalisation. It is difficult to even share your views and thoughts with the HR department for the fear to bear the consequences for being vocal about the visible issues around." says Sumit, a professional with a leading entertainment brand.

Our recommendation to HR

If this is directed towards the time of interviewing candidates, we would ask what responsibility the potential employees have in taking responsibility for asking the right questions. We would expect potential employees to come armed with a list of questions which HR should be in a position to answer. In the event HR is not knowledgeable enough to answer questions then they need to be truthful, get the answers and revert back.

If on the other hand this is directed towards mediation between a manager and her/his employee then confidentiality should be required and demanded from HR. There is no acceptable excuse for the absence of communicating expectations clearly, concisely and in a timely manner.

Concern 2 --- Handling exit interviews

"HR personnel have no idea about the wealth of valuable information that is available at their fingertips. Exit interview information is not about collecting sour grapes information but about collecting factual data which shapes the future HR strategy and policy" says Mithali, a Senior Manager with a leading telecommunications company.

Our recommendation to HR

Organisations need to factor in the costs of decreased productivity, lost investment in training and development, loss of revenue for key sales or management executives, administration set up, equipment purchase, recruitment costs, the new employee's induction into the business culture, management downtime in interviewing candidates, legal fees and payout commitments.

There can be a lot more to staff turnover costs than first meets the eye, which is why it's so important to recruit the right candidate first off and then do what you can to keep them challenged and satisfied. When an individual leaves an organisation there is a story to be told....the exit interview is an opportunity to create a story board.

Retention issues are the number one executive concern then it follows that any and all input must have serious consideration; exit interviews are simply another valuable way of collecting data.

Concern 3 -- Failing to understand business challenges

HR professionals do not look at their purpose as being strategic, which in itself creates an aura that HR is driving administration, not the strategy of the organisation.

"They bother more about hiring than internal employee development. I think they need to keep in mind that it is the current employee's performance that actually reflects on organisations and their performance, "says Jaspreet, a marketing manager with a leading retail organisation.

Our recommendation to HR

The role of HR is to provide overall company assistance and guidance with the execution on our company's missions, values and ethics, while ensuring the right people in the right job at the right time.

Unless and until, we change the view of HR as contributing to business results nothing will change. The HR systems utilised, are just some of the tools we can use to provide factual data to support our contributions.

If we are aligned with the strategy and held accountable for the business results, we will be able to increase our value within the organisation while increasing the ability to execute and deliver on business results. And this of course is based on the premise that the leadership of organisations views HR as a contributing business partner.

Concern 4 -- Lack of responsiveness

"Whenever there is a concern, they always ask for paper work and the turn around time is so long that most employees get frustrated before any resolution is reached," says Nisha, an operations manager with a BPO.

Our recommendation to HR

We have asked many HR groups that we work with to treat their operation like a futures market. Betting on what the future will look like; what their roles will be; how they can prepare for this and begin to plan, prepare and influence.

We get troubled when we hear only recruitment talked about when referencing HR. It's so much more as a massive business process and recruitment is a sub process along with many others. Every time organisations consider making a change that impacts a sub process they must look at the impact on each and every sub process within.

HR absolutely needs to understand they are a service department with customers just like all operational groups. By not responding in a timely manner to the clients, they in fact fail to meet service needs. One can't help but consider outsourcing HR in this thought process and perhaps one of the many reasons organisations today are considering this option. Having said that, all HR personnel must consider the WIIFM (What's in it for me) and perhaps the quick and easy answer is 'I have a job, and that job is servicing the internal customer'.   

Concern 5 -- Lack of empowerment to take quick decisions

"I often get this feel that HR personnel are sitting on their back and think we have it covered," says Digvijay, a branch manager with a private bank.

Our recommendation to HR

This could be a case of HR not being empowered to take decisions or of HR not being willing to accept the decision making accountability. In both the events, this is more of a leadership issue. If decision making is not pushed down in an organisation, empowerment never occurs.

As the saying goes 'The fish always rots from the top'. HR needs to have the support of the board room to become the best in class internal service provides. So if the HR teams have to create magic within, the bosses in the corner offices need to engage and empower.

Deeksha Singh is a Managing Partner with WCH (We Create Headstarts) Training Solutions, a New Delhi based Training & Consulting firm. Jo Verde is Senior Director of JeMM Consultants, a Canada [Images] based Professional Development and Training firm. Feedback can be sent at

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