There is one department in every company that is there for you, the employee. This department’s mission is to lead the charge when it comes to fostering communication and morale among employees within a company. The department I speak of is Human Resources.
We also know that the Human Resources department typically plays a large role when it comes to hiring new employees and they are also there when employees are dismissed from a company. These days the job of assisting employees who have been laid off by counseling them on Cobra benefits and retraining opportunities may obviously occupy some of their time.
But due to hiring freezes by many companies, including mine, Human Resources personnel may have some more time on their hands to assist existing employees. At this time, it may make sense to take advantage of the opportunity to use this department as a resource.
Joan Rice, a close personal friend and former VP of Human Resources at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said it best when talking about the role of Human Resources personnel:
“I would tell my staff to look for ways to say Yes and help people get to where they want to go. Be creative and look for solutions to their issues.”
There are so many ways that Human Resources can help you out in the workplace and asking for their help is the first step.
Ask For Their Expertise on Benefits
Benefits in the corporate world are ever-changing. In years past we didn’t have a lot of choices when it came to our health-care or our 401K options. Today, in most companies, there is a health-care option called a Health Savings Account.
These accounts allow you to contribute pre-tax to an account that would be used for your health-care needs. The big difference between this plan and your typical health-care plan is that, if you don’t end up using the money, at the end of the year you have the option to either roll it over to the next year or to move it into your 401K plan.
This option was too attractive to me to pass up so I opted to move into this plan for next year. This was after much deliberation with members of my Human Resources department. HR also gave employees a seminar on this type of plan bringing in employees who took advantage of the plan in the previous year.
Ask About Training
You’d be surprised at the training resources that your Human Resources department could have at their disposal. They could help you out with company-sponsored training programs or seminars related to topics such as Time Management, Conflict Management, Listening Skills/Effective Communication, or Managing Change.
They can also assist you with any information or paperwork related to company-paid secondary education. At my company, our Human Resources department worked in conjunction with IT employees within our company and assisted them with giving lunch-bag presentations on using Microsoft Outlook, Excel, Word, and PowerPoint to non-IT employees.
Another training topic which would be beneficial could be Finance for Non-Finance employees. Your HR department could work with a member of the Finance department to help other employees understand financial terms which could come up in annual presentations. Look into what training options that your Human Resources personnel can help you with.
Help HR With Employee Satisfaction
In my company there is a team of employees, along with HR personnel, called the Employee Satisfaction Committee. This group meets on a monthly basis and discusses employee issues related to the workplace. It is a place where the employees can voice their concerns on any issues that may affect morale or satisfaction at work.
I’ve been involved in this committee at my job and I really think this type of group really helps bring to light issues that employees have with their jobs. If your company does not have a team of this type then you should implore your Human Resources department to form one. Offer to represent your department at these meetings. It is my guess that your HR Manager will go out of his or her way to form a group that will foster communication within the company. Sometimes you just have to prod a little to make progress.
In this economic environment Human Resources may be an under-utilized department. Now is the time to take advantage of the opportunity to utilize your HR group to help you on the job. Not only may they be willing to help you, but you may be able to give them some ideas for making life in the workplace a little more enjoyable.
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