5 HR Stereotypes and Tips to Avoid Them

Find tips to help you become an HR manager who’s an ally to employees, not the enemy.

Reviewed by:
Sabika Abbas
Update:
July 9, 2024
0 min read time
Nawal Malik
Copywriter

Toby Flenderson from The Office has always been a point of contention for fans of the popular TV series. The character is an HR Manager at the paper company, Dunder Mifflin, which the show is based on and even has a Saudi adaptation called Al-Maktab. 

Why does HR have a Bad Reputation? 

One of the biggest reasons Toby had a bad rap amongst his colleagues in the show is because it appeared that he worked for the organization rather than the employee. This is a common sentiment reflected by people in all kinds of workplaces, and it has led to several stereotypes about human resource professionals that may or may not be true. 

Some of those stereotypes include that HR professionals play a more reactive role where they only think of resolving issues as they arise as opposed to being more proactive and taking preventative measures instead. 
Another reason that HR managers get the short end of the stick is because of an inconsistent application of policies. They are often criticized for not implementing the same policy for all employees, which can cause mistrust and favoritism among employees. 

This blog will cover common stereotypes about HR professionals that make them unapproachable at work. Plus, we’ve included tips to address these stereotypes in a more people-centric way. It’s time HR professionals rise above their infamous reputation and embrace the role as an integral part of organizational success. 

Stereotype #1: HR is the "Gossip Central"

HR is perceived as the hub for gathering and spreading workplace gossip when its role is to offer a safe space to employees and make them feel heard. Their job is to address valid issues and encourage open communication. A good HR professional has excellent problem-solving and conflict-resolution skills. 

How to Avoid This Stereotype

1. Reinforce the commitment to confidentiality within the HR function. 

2. Communicate to employees that all personal and professional matters are handled discreetly. 

3. Emphasize the importance of maintaining confidentiality to build trust among employees.

Stereotype #2: HR doesn’t know anything about the business

Some folks think HR is stuck in its little bubble, clueless about what's happening in the rest of the business. They see HR as just an administrative team, not considering that HR is crucial in ensuring an organization is productive. 

The HR professional of today is not just someone who manages talent recruitment but also participates in organizational strategy. Whether that’s by sourcing the right culture fit or creating a lucrative employer brand, HR helps the company meet its goals by hiring the right talent

How to Avoid This Stereotype

1. Make sure your goals and initiatives align with the overall company objectives. 

2. Send an internal company newsletter communicating how HR strategies contribute to the company’s growth and success. 

3. Communication is key! Introducing a new policy or a new hire? Send out a company-wide email and keep everyone in the loop.

Stereotype #3: Complaining to HR is Useless

Some employees might feel that contacting HR with their complaints or concerns is futile because they don’t expect HR to take appropriate action or address issues effectively. Dispelling this stereotype is crucial for fostering trust and creating an environment where employees feel comfortable bringing their concerns to HR.

How to Avoid This Stereotype

1. A good HR practice that goes a long way is conducting regular company-wide feedback cycles to gather constructive feedback and employee concerns. 

2. Share the employee NPS across the company to ensure their grievances are valid and taken seriously. 

3. Listen actively and ensure transparency in the entire process when handling complaints. 

Stereotype #4: HR is the "Compliance Police"

Some view HR as compliance enforcers, making everyone jump through hoops to follow the rules and regulations. This stereotype often casts HR as rigid and focused solely on ensuring everyone adheres to policies, potentially leading to a less-than-warm perception of the HR department.

How to Avoid This Stereotype

1. Avoid long, tedious, and unnecessary policy presentations and try to engage employees more personally. 

2. Conduct regular one-on-ones with employees and shift the focus from reviewing a checklist to a shared commitment to a positive workplace culture.

3. Maintain an open-door policy, so employees know they can reach out to you for more than just compliance-related issues. 

Also read: Fines for non-compliance of Nafis

Stereotype #5: HR is obsolete in the age of automation 

People already think HR doesn’t do much. With the advent of recruitment technology, it’s become a common misconception that these tools will replace HR altogether. However, Human Resources requires more complex skills such as effective communication, conflict resolution, and strategic thinking – something technology can’t mimic. 

Also read: How AI is changing the way we hire in the Middle East 

How to Avoid This Stereotype

Embrace special tools like Iris for faster sourcing, Talmundo for onboarding, and 15Five for performance management to make your work smoother and more efficient and improve the employee experience. 

A good HR professional effortlessly balances the roles of a strategic partner and a trustworthy employee advocate. With the right interventions, you can position yourself as an HR professional that goes beyond the traditionally expected roles. 

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