Most companies, particularly larger ones, have a human resources (HR) department, or at least one HR manager. HR is a vital department with a pivotal role for the employees and the company as a whole. But when to bring an issue to HR is a concern for employees at least once in their professional career.
As per Human Resources EDU, human resources managers "Are the overseers of the human resources department and insurers of the functions and tasks being carried out by the HR team. They are often seen as the link between an organization's management and its employees, as their work runs the gamut from providing consultation on strategic planning with top executives to recruiting, interviewing, and hiring new staff. Due to the supervisory nature of this position, human resource managers are called upon to handle employee-related services, regulatory compliance, and employee relations, among many other tasks."
That's why your HR manager is the best person to go to if ever you experience any of the issues listed below. The workplace should be a zone where everyone is treated with respect, equality, and fairness. HR is on your side. Be willing to speak to your HR manager when appropriate and necessary. It can make a major impact on your work life.
There is never an acceptable reason anyone should be harassed in the workplace. Whether sexual in nature or otherwise, "joking around" or dead serious, a place of employment is the wrong place for harassing others. Not that harassment anywhere is acceptable, but at least at work, feel secure in knowing HR is there to protect you.
As per TalentZoo, "If you feel you are being harassed or bullied, you should talk to your human resources department. It doesn't matter whether the person doing the harassing is a client, customer, colleague, or boss. It's important to report it." U.S. News & World Report adds more specifically, " If you're being sexually harassed or harassed on the basis of your race, sex, religion, disability, national origin, age (if you're 40 or older) or other protected class, HR has a legal obligation to investigate and put a stop to it."
Not only can HR investigate and put an end to this inappropriate behavior, but your complaint will be on record with the company if the situation continues, worsens, happens to someone else, or needs to be proved to the boss or even in a court of law. Don't let any form of harassment fly under the radar. If not put to a halt, it will usually continue, making the workplace a volatile place to be.
No form of discrimination is tolerable in the workplace. It can lead to anything from awkwardness to tension to outright danger. U.S. News & World Report notes, "Federal law prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of these traits (race, sex, religion, disability or other protected class), and companies are obligated to take action when a report of such discrimination is made in good faith. This is a case in which HR is more likely to more likely to understand what the law requires and know how to proceed correctly than your boss might be."
And it doesn't necessarily have to be you who is being discriminated against in order for you to bring it to HR's attention. According to The Undercover Recruiter, "It is possible to bring prejudice to light even if you are not discriminated against personally. If you feel someone's been unfairly treated, whether because of sexuality, age, race or disability, you have the right to raise the issue with your company, even if you don't share the characteristic that's being discriminated against."
Discrimination against anyone makes for a disrupted and even unsafe workplace. We're all in this together, so if you see (or hear) something, say something.
3. Accommodations/Lifestyle Change
If you need to make a change in your current work situation, be it time off, new hours, an inquiry about maternity/paternity leave, new openings in the company, etc., HR is the place to discuss and plan accordingly. The Undercover Recruiter says, "They'll (HR) liaise with your boss and try to make your schedule work for everyone."
Additionally, HR is your friend when it comes to understanding your company's benefits packages, pension and retirement plans, job details, vacation and sick day accommodations, health coverage, etc. The HR manager is responsible to relay this information to you and work with you to make sure you're set up with all the necessary paperwork and explanations. Always keep abreast of new packages and programs being offered at your place of employment and of any updates or changes along the way. These "extras" can be as important as your job itself.
If you are not being treated properly, HR is there to make things right. For instance, as per Talent Zoo, "If you're a breast-feeding mother, your office needs to provide you with a private area to pump milk during the day. If you don't have access to this, you should take your concerns to the human resources office." HR will let you know what your rights are and will help enforce and protect them.
HR is there for you, to make your employment experience positive with protection and knowledge. As The Undercover Recruiter puts it, "One of the most important people you'll be meeting is your Human Resources manager, because their main aim is your welfare. It's important that HR exists to make sure you, and your colleagues, are happy at work."