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Six ways HR can be a big company’s BFF

John Heckers //November 3, 2009//

Six ways HR can be a big company’s BFF

John Heckers //November 3, 2009//

 Regular readers of my blog here on ColoradoBiz may be very surprised what I am about to write. Please be aware that this is not in response to any criticism of my previous HR article. I stand by every word I said. I also firmly believe the following.

HR can be a large company’s best friend. While executives may still need to “go around” HR to obtain a job through fellow senior executives, once in their position, they should take the top HR person, and perhaps the whole department, out to lunch and get to know them. The reason is that HR can keep executives out of trouble with both the government and employees. Here are some ways that HR is essential.

1). There are increasingly complex and Byzantine government laws, rules and regulations regarding what executives can and can’t do. While the execs need to talk to corporate legal about the most complex of laws, especially those regarding financial responsibility laws, HR can be very helpful in understanding and compliance with laws about employee benefits, compensation, perks, discipline, employee relations, sexual harassment, disabilities, family medical or childcare leave, pregnancy leave, etc.,

2). HR can be very helpful on a variety of laws about hiring. While executives who are job hunting should go around HR to get into the company, sooner or later HR is going to need to get involved to assure that the right person is being hired. HR can often dig out essential information about people on the internet and other places without breaking the law.

3). HR can prevent and solve employee problems. Having someone in HR calm down a disgruntled employee and explain things to them can prevent a lawsuit or a complaint to a government agency. They can also quietly reprimand an employee who might be breaking the law or getting close to causing problems for the department or company. If, no matter how careful you are, lawsuits and complaints happen, HR can guide you through what to do and what not to do in cooperation with corporate legal. Listen to them, and do precisely what they tell you to do.

4). HR can also counsel managers in the best way to handle employee problems. People are promoted for many reasons, some of those not necessarily having to do with people skills. HR can assist a new manager (and many seasoned ones) in managing their staff and handling difficult employees, employees with personal challenges, and the day-to-day interaction of people.

5). HR can save thousands or millions of dollars by stopping fraud. HR can often ferret out the employees who are truly injured and those looking for a free ride. A small percentage of injured employees exaggerate the extent of their injury to prolong sick pay, Worker’s Compensation pay, or win lawsuits. A very few are just out and out crooks looking for a free ride. HR can often stop this sort of financial loss.

6). HR can let you know what kind of training your employees need to stay current — and often provide it. Training can stop injuries, the breaking of laws and employee discontent. It can also keep employees on the cutting edge of business and technology both in hard and soft skills. While most training should be outsourced rather than provided in-house, some is best provided by HR employees who know the company best.

These are a few of the things that HR does very well, and should be used for. Small- and even medium-sized companies can often outsource these functions to an HR company, but larger companies need a department in-house — and perhaps a sizeable one.

There are many other valuable things that an HR department can do for a company to keep them compliant, out of court, fine-free and with great employee relations. Use them effectively, and you will find that they can be great partners in building your staff and company.

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