Human Resources News & Insights

Study: What HR actually does vs. what employees expect HR to do

Ask employees and HR pros what the Human Resources department actually does, and you’re liable to find some common beliefs and some major differences.

That’s what a recent study by Paychex uncovered. The study polled both employees and HR specialists about the roles and responsibilities of the HR department.

Here’s the breakdown of what employees expect HR to do versus the tasks HR pros actually say they do:

  • 79% of employees expect HR to handle employee disputes (70% of HR pros said they handle this)
  • 76% of employees expect HR to deal with racism, sexism and workplace safety issues (cited by 72% of HR pros)
  • 68% of employees think HR manages employee benefits (vs. 61% of HR pros)
  • 55% think HR processes payroll (56% of HR does this)
  • 54% of workers expect HR to recruit new employees (67% of HR pros do this)
  • 46% of employees think HR interviews talent (67% of HR pros)
  • 45% of workers expect HR to track sick and personal days (58% actually do this)
  • 33% of employees think HR approves vacation time (44% do this), and
  • Just 29% of employees think HR trains employees (61% of HR pros actually handle this task).

Where improvement is needed

The study also highlighted employees’ top complaints about their HR departments’ performance. Employees take issue with how HR:

  • Handles employee disputes (cited by 24% of employees)
  • Deals with racism, sexism and workplace safety issues (16%)
  • Recruits new employees (15%)
  • Trains employees (14%)
  • Interviews talent (12%)
  • Manages employee benefits (10%)
  • Approves vacation (8%)
  • Tracks sick and personal days (7%), and
  • Processes payroll (7%).
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