May 27, 2022

The Right Time to Go to HR for Help

By B&SC Career Services Team

The Right Time to Go to HR for Help

You’ve had it! You’re sick and tired of your supervisor’s behavior and you’re not going to tolerate it anymore. He gets on your nerves with micromanaging, perpetual grumpiness, ineffective work processes and he just gave someone else the assignment you really wanted.

Well, despite your frustration, don’t constantly head off to the human resources department to complain about him unless you want to risk being labeled a troublemaker. But, know that there are some perfectly legitimate reasons to request help.

When You Must Go to HR

While we wouldn’t recommend going to HR the same way you would to go a manager at a restaurant when you get bad service, there are some serious natures that require the human resource department to be notified, such as:

  • If your supervisor engages in illegal activities. If management is not complying with equal employment opportunity laws, this would be the kind of HR problems that allows you to report or file a complaint to human resources. EEO laws protect employees from discrimination and harassment based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability. They also protect employees from being retaliated against when they report discrimination, file a charge of discrimination or cooperate with an EEO investigation.

  • If you feel unsafe. Other illegal activities are associated with workplace health and safety. Some include physical, mechanical, and chemical hazards as well as workplace violence and occupational stress. Although in some companies HR may not actually handle workplace safety issues, it is a good place to start to find out who does.
  • If you have a question about compensation and employee benefits. Knowing that the hr department manages these plans, they are a great resource if you have questions about paystubs or health insurance, for example.
  • If you need to take a long-term leave from work. If you are wanting protection from the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), need accommodations for a disability, or have other medical circumstances, go to the HR team so they can help you through any paperwork necessary to meet your needs.

When to Not Go to HR

While the human resource department is helpful in many situations, there are some circumstances where it may be best to not address the issue with them.

  • If you have no solution to the problem. Any time you request HR help, be prepared with evidence of the problem. You can’t just have a feeling that there is one. If there isn’t a legal issue, figure out what bothers you and try to come up with solutions to fix it.
  • If you want other people to change their personality. Everyone is different and certain people may get along better than others. Learning how to work with different types of colleagues is inevitable and it is important to be flexible and promote inclusion in all work environments.

When to Go to Your Supervisor

When your problems may not be as serious, but are still important to you, going to your supervisor or boss first is a great option. Here are some circumstances where going to your supervisor would be appropriate:

  • If you don’t understand why a coworker got a promotion or assignment over you. Ask your supervisor if there is a reason you were not chosen and what you can do to improve your chances of getting the assignment later on. There could be a very good reason. Perhaps you don’t have the level of knowledge, skills or seniority that are required. Document those reasons or requirements and the actions you take to improve them. If a pattern continues where you are passed over, then you might seek counsel from HR.
  • If you don’t like the work processes, requirements or company culture. Your direct supervisor may be able to provide some insight and recommendations here before going to HR. If you name your negative feelings, you can collaborate with your supervisor to first get their perspective and discover positive recommendations for improvements, which you then could take to HR as necessary.
  • If you have a minor interpersonal conflict or employee complaint. There are a lot of reasons that people don’t ‘hit it off’. Schedule a meeting with your supervisor to discuss it. You both might understand each other better and improve your interactions by going through this process.

In any of these cases it may be a perfect time to develop your interpersonal skills, if you want to advance. HR professionals can usually provide information on job training and professional development resources as well as advise you about applying for other internal jobs.

All in all, the HR representatives are there to be an advocate for the employee and help wherever possible. While going to HR with a problem will vary by company and department, they are a great resource to utilize when needed.

Are you ready to launch your career in human resources? If so, consider Bryant & Stratton College’s bachelor’s degree in human resources, which will teach you how to make strategic decisions through staffing, payroll, benefits, and more!

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