The 7 Bad Things About Working in HR

Last Friday, I wrote about the 12 good things I like about working in HR. Lots of good reactions and discussions from that and it was nice to see there’s still some hope and positivity in the profession. People are passionate, dedicated, and just having some fun. It’s a great time to be in HR.

I also received a tweet from one of the leaders I support. Yes, I actually interact on social media with the employees I support. Hey, I warned you I was disruptive. He asked if I was going to write about all the bad things about working in HR. At first, I didn’t think so. After writing a post about all the good things and being critical of seeing all the negativity, why add to it? Wouldn’t that just be going against what I feel? But then I started to think like the solid HR pro I am and I needed to provide an objective, 3rd party view to this debate.

In the immortal words of Maroon 5, “It’s not always rainbows and butterflies, it’s compromise that moves us along.”

So here is my completely subjective, one-sided view of the 7 bad things about working in HR. Some are based on the comments I hear from people, others are what I don’t necessarily care for in the profession. Here goes:

  1. “All you do is hire and fire.” Yes. That’s all I do. And all you do is count beans all day, Mr. Accountant.
  2. “HR? I have a question about my co-pay.” Oh, you’re an orthopedist? I have this rash, can you help? There are many disciplines in HR. Just like not all IT professionals are Java developers.
  3. “Uh, oh, HR is here.” Yes, that’s right. And if you want to leave, that’s just more beer for me. I’m not a pastor or priest. I’m not law enforcement. I like beer. Wine is fantastic. I cuss. A lot. (Sorry, Mom!) I’m no saint and I have my moments. I’m just doing my job just like a marketing pro does hers.
  4. Our insecurities and constant need for validation. We play an important role in the organization. Our jobs matter. You matter. Now go enjoy your Friday and tell somebody they’re doing a great job.
  5. HR departments that live and die by the policy manual or blame everything on a law or statute. Policies and procedures are important. Laws are in place to protect employees against harassment and discrimination. But they aren’t meant to hide behind on every decision. There’s no law against a flexible work schedule or using common sense in the workplace. Have fun.
  6. When HR says, “that’s not our job.” Every organization is different. There are many shapes and sizes and roles to be played. Who cares if you have to plan a picnic or a potluck lunch for Pat’s retirement? Your strategic wisdom you learned from Room 232 at the SHRM conference won’t magically go away if you have to order some boxed lunches. Look at each project as an opportunity and make it the best damn company picnic your company has ever seen.
  7. The notion that HR can’t and shouldn’t be friends with employees they support. Nonsense. I enjoy the people I work with. Our job is no different from a project manager or managing director. We each have stuff we need to do each day. Do it. Don’t tell the world what you’re doing, respect the confidentiality of the role, don’t gossip, and enjoy those around you. Don’t isolate yourself. That’s lonely and no fun.

So there’s my list. This was a lot more draining and exhausting than writing last week’s list. Spending time thinking about all the bad things about your job can do that. Choose to spend your energy on the good aspects of your job or life. If you find there are more bad items than good items on that list, find a new job. If you don’t know where to start, call me. I can help because all I do is hire and fire people.


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