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Five Ways the HR Department Can Earn Employee Respect
by Marnie Green

Today's human resource departments are fighting for credibility. HR wants to be seen as a resource and a trusted advisor to management. Likewise, HR needs to be seen as credible in the eyes of employees. If employees don't respect and trust the HR function, the value of HR services is diminished. In my years of consulting with HR departments, I've noted five actions many HR departments could take to build respect in the eyes of their employees:

1. Be a constant source of information. I continue to be amazed by the number of employees that I meet who say they don't know what their HR department does. They are not familiar with the services provided or they have a gross misunderstanding of how HR functions. This is an easy issue to address. HR must constantly "drip" information to employees on a wide range of employment issues through a variety of media.. A detailed quarterly newsletter won't work. Rather, provide information on a weekly or daily basis on a variety of topics that directly impact or benefit employees. Use as many communication methods as possible. They'll soon come to see you as a resource, rather than an obstacle.

2. Make your role known. Oftentimes, employees misunderstand how HR operates. They believe that HR information is "confidential." They believe that HR should be "on their side." Then, when they don't get what they expect, they come to mistrust the entire HR function. How do we combat this phenomenon? Advertise your job, including your mission, your role, and your services. Make it known how you handle "confidential" information. Don't be afraid to do a little education about the HR world. The more they know, the more they trust and respect you.

3. Get your ducks in a row. The quickest way to lose credibility with a workforce is to make mistakes. Not meeting deadlines, making "minor" errors, and not following through on promises will come back to haunt you every time. HR is watched by many eyes. We cannot afford to be sloppy or incomplete.

4. Constantly ask for feedback. I'm amazed at how many HR departments have no idea (or no interest) in how they are perceived by their customers. Conduct annual surveys and customer focus groups to find out what your employee customers think. Pursue continuous improvement as a result of the feedback. Those who are always getting better are always more respected.

5. Know your stuff. In this complex, litigious world, we cannot afford to be out of the loop. Respected professionals continuously learn and stay up on the trends and issues of their industry. If you can't attend regular HR-related conferences, at least read the journals. HR Magazine and Workforce are great sources that will keep you up-to-date on what's happening in our world. If you aren?t up to date, why would employees want to come to you for answers?

HR departments will continue fighting for credibility and respect if they don't address these simple things. All the analysis and documentation in the world can't change the fact that it's the little things that will get you!

Marnie Green may be contacted at

Marnie E. Green is Principal Consultant of the Arizona-based Management Education Group, Inc. She is the author of Painless Performance Evaluations: A Practical Approach to Managing Day to Day Employee Performance (Pearson/Prentice Hall). Green is a speaker, author, and consultant who helps organizations develop leaders today for the workforce of tomorrow.



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