Human Resources is Not on Your Side

Most people who work for a reasonably sized company will already be well acquainted with their HR department, and thus should already be in full agreement with this post title. If you haven’t had to deal with an HR representative, or if you still think they’re on your side, allow me to try to convince you otherwise.

Don’t get me wrong, HR isn’t out to straight-up rape your intellectual capital, but they’re also not there to stop anyone else in the company from holding your brain down and taking turns either. The Human Resources department is not about taking care of people, it’s about taking stock of them. I mean, it’s in the name.

‘Human Resources’ is what the machines will call us when the singularity finally occurs and our robotic overlords start factory farming us for the iron in our blood.

Human Resources might tell you that they want you to be ‘happy’ and ‘satisfied’ and ‘fulfilled’ at work, but what they really mean is that they want you to keep silent and keep your head down- preferably while choking on a mountain of paperwork.

Paperwork is HR’s superpower.

Human resources have relatively simple objectives, or ‘KPIs’ by which they measure their performance (as opposed to the sliding scale by which your own work is measured).

They have to:

–          Make sure employees  come to work

–          Make sure employees stay at work

–          Make sure employees don’t kill each other while at work

–          Make sure the employees don’t kill themselves while at work

That’s it.

That’s what all the leave forms, and access cards, and bullshit incentives, and contracts and yes, even ‘training’ (the kind that you need to work off) is for. Human Resources are why you have to go to seminars and conferences and those god-awful team building events.

Human Resources isn’t about being human, it’s about quantifying, measuring and selling human output with the least amount of potential risk or expenditure to the organisation.  Which is ironic to me, because an organisation is essentially nothing more than a collection of human beings with a similar interest and the tools to make it happen. The objective of human resources is to prioritise the needs of an imaginary, non-sentient, inanimate concept over the needs of the human beings who actualise it.

I mean, in any company big enough, you are bound to hire some real space cadets who need to be watched like children (probably because, relatively speaking, they still are children). But no many how many ‘fun’ mailers they send you in comic sans, no matter how many pieces of clip art from the mid 90’s they use on the notices they pin to the bathroom door, do not let their shameful  attempts at graphic design fool you.

HR is not on your side.


6 thoughts on “Human Resources is Not on Your Side

  1. Dont like them and never willl – they are the people out for you while smiling and telling you they are there for you, whilst picking the knife to plunge in to your back. Like it!

  2. I’d love to say something about the efforts of HR departments – but in all my years working I’ve yet to see one actually do a nanosecond’s worth of work.
    I’m not kidding. I have no idea what they’re supposed to do, or what they actually do.
    It’s seriously messing with my head – an entire department of people dedicated to the notion of doing nothing. All. The. Time.

  3. Some thoughts, since I read so many of these – Accounting is also not on your side, IT is not on your side, The CEO isn’t on your side. Security isn’t on your side. If there’s a real mistreatment problem, the government often isn’t on your side either. I’m not entirely sure why it is so commonly news that HR isn’t on your side when they are hired by, set up by, have job descriptions written by… the company. I keep trying to understand… I guess “human” in the title suggests that if ANYBODY is on your side, it should be these guys, but, like everyone else in the organization they are also human, make mistakes, misjudgments, etc. They are not the avenging angels of good who side with every employee in every instance, but some do try harder than others. .

    • IT is definitely not on your side… but IT makes no secret of this, or their general contempt for other people. When the singularity happens, IT will be cheering the robots on. I think that’s why I think I like IT, they don’t like anyone enough to pretend. Accountants are on their own planet, CEO’s don’t care, and the government is most definitely not on your side… but that’s for another post. I think the difference, in my experience (and please understand that, posted in the ‘rants’ category, that’s what these posts represent) HR also often portrays themselves through internal comms as the ‘soft and fluffy’ side of the company. It makes sense that they would want to cultivate this impression of compassion and openness. They, more than IT, Accounting, the CEO or the government have to deal vicariously with the intimate, and sometimes life-changing events employees endure. That’s why I think when this impression is proved to be a facade for just the keepers of forms, and protocols, and rules, it is not just disappointing, it’s heart rending. To have a loved one’s funeral reduced to an application form, to have a chronic illness overlooked for the doctor’s permission slip, to be told that the rules outweigh your well-being. I have seen gruff, unsmiling pit bosses show more empathy than HR. Not every employee needs to be sided with, but I have never seen an HR rep make a call in an individual’s favour. These rules have been established by the company, but they are enforced by a police who try too hard to be nice when they’re the ones locking you up. Perhaps there are some who try harder than others, perhaps I’ve only dealt with the others.

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