When Should I Talk to HR?

There’s probably been at least one instance where you’ve said to yourself: “I’m not happy about this situation. Maybe I should take it up with HR.” If you’ve ever followed through with this, it may not have wound up exactly as you expected. It’s a big mistake to think that the HR department at your company is some kind of neutral referee, which exists to mediate issues between you, your co-workers and your managers.

While HR doesn’t exist to deliver awkward messages to other people at the business, there are certainly times when you should take an issue up with your HR department. Here are a few situations that could mean a chat with HR is in order…


1.When You’re Being Harassed

If you’re being harassed, whether sexually or otherwise, your HR department has a legal obligation to look into it, and put a stop to it if they find there’s any weight to your claims. You may feel like the first person to talk to would be your boss, and sometimes this can iron out the issue just as effectively. However, if you want a certain guarantee that action is going to be taken, you’re better off going straight to HR. The staff in HR tend to be more aware that they need to handle the situation seriously and carefully, and are better trained in how to proceed with a given issue.

If the issue is a little complex and they find they’re out of their element, there are always legal firms like this: http://www.elliswhittam.com/ that can be reached for consultation. When you first reach out to HR, you need to make it absolutely clear that you’re making a formal complaint about harassment, thereby avoiding any confusion.

2. When You’re Being Discriminated Against

The law prohibits any employer from discriminating against their staff on the basis of race, religion, gender, disability, and any similar traits. As such, your company is obliged to take action whenever reports of this discrimination surface. Like the issue of harassment, this is another issue where your HR department is much more likely to understand the ins and outs of the law, and how to proceed correctly, compared to your boss.

Just make sure you’re clear on what counts as discrimination, and that you have some kind of evidence to back your claims up. Fail to do these two things, and you could just make things much more difficult for yourself.

3. When You Encounter Certain Issues with Your Boss, in Specific Circumstances

By and large, the HR department isn’t there to mediate issues you have with your boss. If you feel like your boss is giving a co-worker more enjoyable assignments than they’re giving you, or nit-picking through your work unfairly, this generally isn’t a job for HR. Having said that, there are certain situations where you should go over your boss’s head and talk to HR.

If your boss is being unquestionably abusive, asking you or your colleagues to do anything illegal, or neglecting your health and safety, then no one will say you’re overstepping the mark by bringing the issue to HR.

4. When NOT to Talk to HR

Let’s say you don’t like your boss’s management style, or you’re having trouble getting along with a certain manager or co-worker. These things, while legitimate issues, aren’t something that the majority of HR departments will be able to resolve for you. Having said that, in certain companies, human resources will be able to give you some handy advice on how to work through the problems you’re facing yourself. Before bringing any of these more minor issues to your human resources department, you need to get familiar with them, and take the time to assess whether it will be helpful or not to ask them for this kind of advice.

While some professionals will be very helpful in guiding you through these situations, others will simply report the whole situation to your boss, whether you want them to or not. Before you go ahead with bringing any kind of problem to the table, you need to have a clear sense of how your HR department operates, as well as a fair profile of the representative that you’d be talking to. Although there’s a range of workplace problems that your HR department can help you out with, you’ll just have to work through certain issues yourself, or leave for something better.

If you’re experiencing any of these things at work, and you were on the fence about telling HR, I hope this post has made the situation a little easier to understand.