How You Can Help Your HR Help You More

Employees Can Help the HR Department Help Them Flourish in 3 Ways

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The main mission of any Human Resources department is to help the business flourish and succeed by serving customers. They do this by making sure that the best people are recruited, hired, and then treated properly. Usually, the HR department is expected to provide the support staff need for the rest of the company. 

After all, there is nothing more important to a business than the people who make it run.

But, a reader sent in the following question: “What kind of support would HR managers expect from staff?”

This is such an excellent question that it deserved a response. What kind of support do the HR people who offer staff support for a living need?

Here are three ways that you can support your HR department—which will, in turn, make your life at work a heck of a lot easier. And, isn't that your goal?

1. Fill out that paperwork properly and promptly. Don't you find it funny that HR asks you for information on your race and then tells you that race won't be considered in any decisions about anything? Well, it's not because HR doesn't know what they're doing.  It's because the federal government requires many businesses to report information on the race and gender of employees and applicants.

What about those health insurance forms? HR doesn't send this paperwork to you for HR's health, they are sent to you for yours.

If you don't fill the forms out promptly, you could be stuck without company-provided health insurance until the next open enrollment period—which will be a year away.

If you're young and healthy and think that you'd prefer to pay the Affordable Care Act (ACA) fine for not having health insurance than your portion, remember that even the young and healthy can get into car accidents, slip on icy sidewalks or get cancer.

HR will cry with you when you come with your tale of woe and misery, but if you missed the deadline, HR can't pay your hospital bills.

If you're sick, or having a baby or need to stay home to take care of a sick family member, you may qualify for time off under FMLA. But, you have to fill out the paperwork for that to apply.

HR is not being mean or nosy; they're trying to get you the help you need. (Of course, there are exceptions in cases of emergencies. If you have a heart attack, you are not expected to fill out the paperwork before calling 911. You can take care of the paperwork later. But, if you're pregnant? You know the baby is coming, so fill out the paperwork early.)

Write those performance appraisals and self-appraisals. Why does HR care? Because HR cares about people and cares about the company. Performance appraisals cover both sides of this coin.

First, the people. If you're a fantastic manager who is constantly giving feedback—positive and negative—to your people, an annual performance review simply documents what you've said all along.

But, most managers aren't great at providing feedback. The annual performance review allows employees to know how they are doing and what they need to do in order to improve.

This information is critical for employees who want to improve.

But why the self-appraisal? Because many managers don't know everything that you do. This is especially true about good employees because the boss doesn't feel the need to have to hover over you every day.

So, when you write your own self-appraisal, you take the opportunity to let your boss know how fabulous you are. You're missing out on a great opportunity if you skip this, and HR doesn't want you to miss out on any opportunity to show how brightly you shine.

Second, the company. Performance appraisals help protect the company because they are an official record of what happened and how an employee performed during the year. The company can use the documentation in case they need to fire an employee.

While employees prefer not to be fired, sometimes employment termination needs to happen.

While HR will always want more documentation about a poorly performing employee than one performance appraisal, this is a good place to start.

Performance appraisals aren't just used to document information for firing, but to justify raises, promotions, and assignments to special projects. Then, if anyone ever questions why Bob got promoted when Steve didn't, HR can say, “Well, this shows that Bob exceeded expectations in 8 of his 10 annual goals and Steve only exceeded expectations in 7 of his 10 annual goals, which is why the promotion when to Bob."

Follow the company rules. Even though you might think your HR department loves nothing better than to sit around making up new rules, most people in HR would prefer working in an environment where nit-picky rules aren't necessary. Following the rules actually makes everyone's life easier.

When HR says, “If you're sick, you need to notify your boss before starting time,” it's not because they don't believe you're sick. HR does it because your boss needs to know who is going to be at work so that she can accommodate for your absence.

While it's true that some employees take advantage of sick days, and are terminated, most people are just sick, and your organization needs to know you're not there. Additionally, federal law requires HR to follow specific rules regarding some serious illnesses, so please just call in.

Another rule all companies have is to follow federal, state and local laws. When your HR department says, “You can't use your company computer to watch inappropriate videos” it's not that HR staff are prudes. They're protecting the company from liability from sexual harassment laws.

When HR says, “You can't ask a candidate how old she is,” HR is trying to comply with federal laws prohibiting age discrimination. When HR tells you that you need to work with your disabled employee to provide the reasonable accommodations she needs to do her job, HR is making sure that the company is in compliance with the American's with Disabilities Act.

If you don't understand why HR is asking you to do something, just ask. Most likely there's a very logical reason why your HR department is asking you to do what is requested. Find out. It usually makes total sense. If nothing else, you'll better understand how HR has to think about issues.

Doing these few things can make your HR manager's life so much easier—which means she can focus on things that will help develop you and your employees and make your lives easier.

When you don't do these things, then your HR manager has to spend her time battling sexual harassment lawsuits, chasing information for government required reports, and trying to explain that when you decline company health insurance, your pneumonia is your problem.

Additional Areas in Which HR Would Like to Help You

Here are some of the areas in which HR would like to help you if freed from the role of the chief nag, systematic rule maker, and strong arm for executive management.