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Posted: November 03, 2009

Six ways HR can be a big company’s BFF

That's right -- and I really mean it

John Heckers

 Regular readers of my blog here on ColoradoBiz may be very surprised what I am about to write. Please be aware that this is not in response to any criticism of my previous HR article. I stand by every word I said. I also firmly believe the following.

HR can be a large company's best friend. While executives may still need to "go around" HR to obtain a job through fellow senior executives, once in their position, they should take the top HR person, and perhaps the whole department, out to lunch and get to know them. The reason is that HR can keep executives out of trouble with both the government and employees. Here are some ways that HR is essential.

1). There are increasingly complex and Byzantine government laws, rules and regulations regarding what executives can and can't do. While the execs need to talk to corporate legal about the most complex of laws, especially those regarding financial responsibility laws, HR can be very helpful in understanding and compliance with laws about employee benefits, compensation, perks, discipline, employee relations, sexual harassment, disabilities, family medical or childcare leave, pregnancy leave, etc.,

2). HR can be very helpful on a variety of laws about hiring. While executives who are job hunting should go around HR to get into the company, sooner or later HR is going to need to get involved to assure that the right person is being hired. HR can often dig out essential information about people on the internet and other places without breaking the law.

3). HR can prevent and solve employee problems. Having someone in HR calm down a disgruntled employee and explain things to them can prevent a lawsuit or a complaint to a government agency. They can also quietly reprimand an employee who might be breaking the law or getting close to causing problems for the department or company. If, no matter how careful you are, lawsuits and complaints happen, HR can guide you through what to do and what not to do in cooperation with corporate legal. Listen to them, and do precisely what they tell you to do.

4). HR can also counsel managers in the best way to handle employee problems. People are promoted for many reasons, some of those not necessarily having to do with people skills. HR can assist a new manager (and many seasoned ones) in managing their staff and handling difficult employees, employees with personal challenges, and the day-to-day interaction of people.

5). HR can save thousands or millions of dollars by stopping fraud. HR can often ferret out the employees who are truly injured and those looking for a free ride. A small percentage of injured employees exaggerate the extent of their injury to prolong sick pay, Worker's Compensation pay, or win lawsuits. A very few are just out and out crooks looking for a free ride. HR can often stop this sort of financial loss.

6). HR can let you know what kind of training your employees need to stay current -- and often provide it. Training can stop injuries, the breaking of laws and employee discontent. It can also keep employees on the cutting edge of business and technology both in hard and soft skills. While most training should be outsourced rather than provided in-house, some is best provided by HR employees who know the company best.

These are a few of the things that HR does very well, and should be used for. Small- and even medium-sized companies can often outsource these functions to an HR company, but larger companies need a department in-house -- and perhaps a sizeable one.

There are many other valuable things that an HR department can do for a company to keep them compliant, out of court, fine-free and with great employee relations. Use them effectively, and you will find that they can be great partners in building your staff and company.

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John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC was an Executive, Relationships, Life and Spiritual Coach in Denver with 30 years of experience  helping people with their lives, relationships and careers.

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Readers Respond

Thanks Kimberly. Honestly, though, I'm not trying to get anything here to "work for me." I firmly believe everything I write. From some of the letters I've received privately, however, from some of the private comments and letters I've gotten, I think some folks believe that I was pressured into writing this article. Nothing could be further from the truth. ColoradoBiz does not pressure me or tell me what to write. They encourage and value a diversity of opinions, even controversial ones. But I'm an enigma, I think, in today's media world. I often see both sides of an issue, and see that most issues are very complex. I love to write both sides of complex issues. Unfortunately, in a polarized America, someone like me is a very strange creature...kind of like the Loch Nexx Monster. I think our country would be a better place if we ALL would sit down together and try to look at all sides of each and every issue and stop demonizing those who hold differing opinions. It's a hard trap to avoid, and even I fall into it once in a while, but an essential one for civilized and productive discourse. By John Heckers on 2009 11 05
John, This is a valiant effort. I hope it works for you! Kimberly Lucas Goldstone Partners, Inc. By Kimberly Lucas on 2009 11 03

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