The role of human resources can be a precarious one. It’s understood that the department is there to deal help with workplace and interpersonal issues and questions that may arise. However, people in the workplace don’t solely have issues or ambitions that are forged and grown at work. Sometimes, external and more personal factors often play a role.
HR departments across the world of business have a key role to play, the BBC finds, in ensuring that the culture is healthy, productive, and that the employees can thrive in their roles and beyond. Now, while a lot of this requires HR to play a leading role in the company, let’s not overlook another important element. That is, addressing further issues that employees have, such as giving more personal advice.
However, both the HR department and the upper management should be very wary of the ramifications of offering advice. If the advice turns out to be unhelpful or even causes problems, there may be liability without some type of form to mitigate potential claims. On the other hand, personal problems can and always will play a part in a person’s business life. Hence, strictly discussing issues of business doesn’t always help resolve issues.
It’s a very tricky line to tread if you want the HR department to maximize its potential. To tackle this head-on, let’s look at a couple of the most common and difficult areas to negotiate in this regard.
On Financial Wellness Advice
By quite some margin, financial wellness is the main point of stress for people in the workplace. Poor financial wellness can very easily lead to stress or anxiety. Even worse, financial difficulties cause employees to take days off to deal with the anxiety. This in turn leads to a drop in performance level. Those who feel safe with their finances may perform better. However, is it the place of the employer to give financial advice to better them in this regard?
Finance is a very personal issue, and telling people how to spend the money that the company owes them seems like overstepping the boundaries. This is especially true now that so much information can be found online for free from professionals. For example, Trussle offers a free Mortgage in Principle and professional advice, allowing those looking to buy or sell to know how much they can borrow. As the online application usually gets a recommended deal within five days, worries in this regard can be cured quickly.
So, perhaps there’s a way to do something that sits between offering outright financial advice and keeping it completely out of the conversation. One way that you could go about this is by having or hosting educational programs. These optional resources can allow people to discreetly and conveniently get light guidance or even professional assistance if they need it. There are even options ranging from setting up financial counseling sessions to using an interactive platform online.
As the topic is so sensitive, it’s important to avoid forcing help onto others or even offering it directly through a member of the business. This is why sessions with external professionals can be of good use. However, they will often also encourage the use of a disclaimer or signed document that protects both parties, them and the business. Investment opportunities shouldn’t be discussed, but money management techniques can be very useful.
On Educational Progression Advice
Further education for employees can sometimes seem like a double-edged sword. While you do get more skilled employees who prove to be go-getters and willing to progress, it may also backfire. Pursuing further education can make them tired at work and prime them for roles elsewhere. So, offering access to further education isn’t always what companies want to do, but can you advise someone who wants to pursue such a path?
Let’s say you suggest that taking courses will help them progress in the company. Yet, they don’t progress eventually, it could cause problems. Equally, if they want to undertake further education with an eye on progression, it would seem counterproductive not to direct them towards certain programs. For the HR department, it seems like a topic that higher-ups should set the ruling on first as there are major pros and cons to offering tuition assistance, Inc.com shows. So perhaps following their stance on that aspect would be wise.
However, the issue can be dealt with in a more fluid and case-by-case basis. Get a good read of the people applying, especially those with firm commitments. This is the best way to make further education beneficial for the business and the employee. Equally, the rule of reciprocity will almost certainly play its part. If you’re encouraging and even financially supportive of an employee going for further education, they’ll be grateful and instinctively want to repay the company for the kindness. Most employees who receive sponsorship from their company to get higher qualifications, tend to stick around at least for a courteous period of time.
These are some elements that could easily fall under the HR purview. However, it’s always best to get a company stance on such matters before considering passing on advice to the staff.