Many employees (not to mention small business owners) consider HR as a last resort for conflict resolution, and nothing more. But the truth is, a company’s human resources department can provide employees with information and help for a range of issues – not just problems with management or co-workers.
Here are a few times when workers should seek out their company’s HR department, lessening the chances for a conflict that can be bad for both the employee and the employer:
Especially when employees are first hired or right after earning a promotion that comes with extra perks, it is wise for them to check in with their HR department to get full details on the benefits that come with the job. An HR representative can explain things like insurance and employee discounts, and help workers file any paperwork that’s needed.
Clarification of company policies
For most companies, policies that affect workers are either written or vetted by the human resources department, and are always administered by them. If employees need clarification on policies such as trading in unused sick time for vacation days or taking advantage of company wellness or discount programs, HR can help walk the individual through them.
A change in personal status
Having a baby? Getting married and need to change a tax withholding? Need emergency time off or reduced hours, or need to take time under the Family and Medical Leave Act? Human resources should be a worker’s first stop. A representative can walk him or her through filling out forms and getting leave approved.
While a human resources rep can’t make the decision to give employees a promotion or raise, he or she can talk to the worker about what opportunities the company offers for advancement. This also includes educational opportunities or reimbursement, so the employee can get the training they need to succeed in their career.
Another great way for employees to use their HR department to their advantage is to keep them updated with their successes and strengths within the company. This can turn the worker’s rep into an advocate for them when the time comes to hand out promotions or raises.
Finally, one’s human resources department can help them if they have a problem with a manager or co-worker. Even if the individual chooses not to file a formal complaint, it’s part of the HR rep’s job to provide a professional ear for the employee while the individual vents about the problem. He or she can also give the worker suggestions for how to handle disputes before they escalate, or give the individual recommendations for how to proceed if a formal complaint is warranted.
A worker’s human resources department is in a good position to advise the individual, because they know the atmosphere in that person’s workplace — such as what their manager is like, and what issues their predecessor had in the worker’s position.
While employees may have been looking at HR as mediators in a dispute or the bearers of red tape between themselves and their benefits, the truth is that a good human resources department looks out for employees, as well as the company.
By getting a worker’s HR rep on their side and keeping him or her updated on the progress or lack thereof involving a situation, employees can get a boost in their career when advancement time comes.
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