Every HR pro knows striking a balance between employee and company advocate can be tricky.
And because one of HR’s main functions is to protect the company, many employees are naturally distrustful. Others are dissatisfied with how their HR department has handled issues in the past.
Either way, there’s a disconnect between employees and HR, and career site Zety set out to learn why.
In a recent study, Zety surveyed nearly 1,000 U.S. workers to gauge their opinions on how well HR does its job and whether they’d go to HR to report a problem.
The three main types of issues examined were personal issues, co-worker issues and criminal issues. The overwhelming conclusion? The bulk of employees wouldn’t go to HR for problems of any kind.
Eighty-six percent wouldn’t tell HR if they were struggling to cope with the death of a loved one, and 92% wouldn’t speak up if they were going through a tough divorce.
Seventy-nine percent of workers wouldn’t report a co-worker having bad body odor, and 64% would say nothing if a colleague came into work intoxicated.
And finally, 36% wouldn’t speak up if they were a victim of sexual harassment, and 60% wouldn’t report witnessing theft at work.
Why they don’t speak up
These numbers are quite high, and Zety dug deeper to find out why employees aren’t going to HR when they should.
The three main reasons? Fear of retaliation (46%), lack of confidence in HR’s objectivity (39%) and fear of not being taken seriously due to gender – complaints made by men were 26% more likely to be investigated.
When it comes down to it, though, the bulk of employees still consider HR to be unhelpful, inconsistent and out of touch. The most sobering statistic is this: 69% of respondents don’t believe that HR takes its employees’ side.
It’s clear a lot of work needs to be done to turn that number around and gain employees’ trust. And if you’re not sure where to start, Dr. John Sullivan of TLNT has a few suggestions:
1. Make it a priority for higher-ups. You’ll need everyone on board to rebuild trust with employees, and the best way to do that is to put it in dollars and cents for upper management. Show them how costly it can be to have a disengaged, distrustful workforce and any other negative business consequences.
2. Stay on top of current issues. What’s bothering workers at other companies right now? Those concerns could very well be happening at your business, too. Show people you care by being proactive with their needs.
3. Work on response times. Nothing frustrates employees more when it appears HR is doing nothing about a problem. Keep employees in the loop about ongoing situations or investigations, so they know action is being taken.
4. Become active listeners. Ask your employees how you can improve and which communication and reporting methods they’re most comfortable with.
5. Be transparent. The more open and honest you are about processes and how HR operates, the more likely employees are to be transparent with you. It can also help to explain to everyone what HR’s purpose is, and how it can help them.
6. Focus on productivity. Instead of being solely a problem-solving center, make it your mission to create a workplace where employees are happy and engaged, and therefore more productive.