It’s an exciting challenge to start a new job – especially if it’s your first experience of employment. There’s loads to remember and lots of people to get to know – and one of the most important people you’ll be meeting is your Human Resources manager, because their main aim is your welfare. You’re an asset to the company now, a crucial cog in its workings, so it’s important that HR exists to make sure you, and your colleagues, are happy at work.
Despite this, there’s sometimes some confusion about when it’s appropriate to approach the HR department. You might find yourself asking if your query is important enough, whether your complaint is justified or if there’s anything they can do to help. To help you out, below are five situations when it’s always relevant to go to Human Resources.
1. Issues with your manager, colleagues or customers
You’ll want to raise a grievance about someone who works with you if you feel you have been singled out, harassed or bullied – going to HR is a given. But did you know following recent changes to the equality act, it is possible to bring prejudice to light even if you are not discriminated against personally? If you feel someone’s been unfairly treated, whether because of sexuality, age, race or disability, you have the right to raise the issue with your company, even if you don’t share the characteristic that’s being discriminated against.
‘The long and short of it is this: if it’s offensive to anyone then it shouldn’t be in the workplace,’ says Kevin Orchard, a chartered HR manager from Cornwall, ‘And if you feel awkward about addressing it with the person, you can ask HR to mediate or even raise the issue via a third party. It might even be possible to remain anonymous.’
2. Changes to personal circumstances
If you need to request to take time off at short notice, reduce your hours, work flexibly, or have queries regarding maternity or paternity leave, then HR will be your first port of call. They’ll liaise with your boss and try to make your schedule work for everyone.
3. Personal entitlements
Approach your HR manager when you begin your job and get to know the details of your organisation’s benefits package. What is the company doing about the forthcoming compulsory pension contributions? Can you get involved in a cycle to work scheme? Can you get a free eye test if you work on a computer? Is there a bonus this year?
4. Seek Opportunities
If you want to progress in a certain position, then HR can help. This could be through internal training or job shadowing. If it’ll help the company and give your role greater flexibility, it’s quite possible that they’ll go for it considering the financial climate. Alternatively, you may wish to partake in external training. Ask for options for potential part funding, or if the company will at least give you time off to complete the course (more likely if it’s work related).
5. Just to vent!
Sometimes it’s good to let off steam with an objective third party. Bottling up feelings about your job, your colleagues or the way your employers run their business won’t help anyone. You might think your HR manager won’t be interested but you’re providing a valuable insight into the mood of the workforce and the running of the company. They’ll probably value your feedback and thoughts as much as you enjoy getting it off your chest.
Kevin says, ‘It’s better than exploding at a colleague. It could exacerbate the problem and even lead to a grievance procedure. Who knows, we might even be able to solve the issue that’s making you stressed!’
You may also want to check out INFOGRAPHIC: Job Satisfaction and Happiness in the Workplace.
Amy Chambers writes in association with Join Insurance, the recruitment wing of RBS Insurance. If you’re interested in opportunities in the insurance jobs sector then visit their website today.