HR Myths & Misconceptions in the Human Resource Industry

When people ask why I choose human resource management as an occupation, I generally give this reason: I enjoy figuring out solutions that make working in the workplace better.

However, in my experience, the HR industry has received a bit of a bad rep as many people have misconceptions about what HR managers actually do. They either think that HR is all about A). hiring and firing or B). that it only benefits employers, not employees.

These misconceptions or ‘HR myths’ have led to HR being labelled as “the bad guys”, as HR has to deal with the things a manager doesn’t want to do – which usually means being the bearer of bad news. Though it’s one small part of a multi-faceted job role, HR managers are often the ones on the frontline when it comes to dealing with an industry downturn or ‘restructuring’ (recent evidence of this would be HR managers standing down a lot of employees because of COVID-19).

But in reality, HR is a lot more than just hiring and firing. Modern human resource management is a collection of multiple roles – they are mediators, people managers, and legal advisors all rolled into one. Not only do they have to do what is best for the organisation, but they also must provide a safe, supportive, and collaborative working environment.

As modern human resources management gets implemented, the old HR myths and misconceptions of HR are still prevalent.

Four HR Myths or Misconceptions in the Industry

1. HR values the company over its employees

The old function of HR was that they are acting on behalf of their managers and are doing what’s best for the organisation. This stance often meant that there was little consideration of the impact that these decisions would have on its people.

Nowadays, HR works from both sides of the spectrum. They work for the employee and the company. HR is there to help formalise a lot of the company standards and values. Through formalising these standards and values, they then have the responsibility of communicating and implementing them throughout the company.

2. HR creates social events

In the modern era, employee engagement is at the forefront of a successful business. Trying to foster employee engagement has led to the misunderstanding that for employees to be happy at work, social events are most effective.

Whilst this can be effective, not everyone responds well to social events and they can cause some unwanted HR issues (harassment and bullying and/or sexual harassment are most frequently seen). Modern HR has found that because there are multiple personality types in a business, there needs to be multiple methods for fostering employee engagement.

These methods can go one of two ways – they can either be a formalised process or social-centric. Your formalised processes are generally evident through quarterly game plans, and annual meetings and catch ups. These methods are generally useful for quiet personality types that enjoy structure. The more social-centric methods are where social events become appropriate. These events are more enticing for extroverted personalities.

In a small business framework, HR isn’t allocated the task to create social events as there are other things they should be focusing on before this. Generally, these social events are organised and managed by someone within the office such as an office manager or receptionist

3. HR is an expense on the business

This HR myth is connected to the idea that HR causes more problems than they fix. A lot of the time they don’t cause any problems; what they do is provide an avenue for employees and management to voice their concerns and try to communicate better.

In a small business, HR is usually considered too expensive when first starting out. If this way of thinking continues throughout a business’s lifetime then the work any HR advisor does will be considered pointless by others. In actual fact, it ends up costing more in the long run because a HR manager does all the hard work to ensure that the company complies with any Fair Work or legal obligations.

In my experience, once business managers have experienced the difficulties of human resource management and how costly it can be if not done correctly, they are more likely to appreciate the work.

4. HR only hires and fires people

Human Resource management began with the intention of managing the hiring and firing of people. In the modern era, however, this is only part of its function. A lot of modern human resource managers would have this task at the bottom of the list of things they would prefer to do day in and day out. Every HR professional would prefer to focus on improving the relationships and performances of people as opposed to simply removing them and hiring someone new. A successful business values its employees and more importantly, the employees feel valued every day.

Want to Learn More?

Interested to learn more about HR myths or need someone that is happy to have the tough conversations, but also will step outside of them and provide holistic human resource advice, give Bramwell Partners HR consulting team a call on (07) 3630 5695 today.