Putting Back the "Human" in Human Resources

Casandra Reid

A surefire way to win employees’ hearts is to be human.

Pleasant ConversationPhoto by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash

“Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough, so they don’t want to.” — Sir Richard Branson.

As one of many Human Resources (HR) professionals, I am on a mission to rebrand HR, one employee at a time. If you get triggered by the mention of HR, it could indicate there is an unhealthy employee/employer relationship.

Now, I’m not telling you to break up with your employer. Far be that from me. At least not before a good-faith attempt at working things out.

From job application to interviewing to onboarding, those first impressions are part of how we view our employers. Often, the elephant in the room is called HR. However, Human Resources is the door through which we enter our jobs and careers.

Human Resources sometimes gets a bad rap, and there are times when that is warranted. After all, many of us have had or are likely to have at least one unpleasant HR experience throughout our careers.

But why?

The answer is that the most significant part of Human Resources involves interacting with challenging humans.

Developing trust with my workforce

As head of HR in my department, I serve a staff of over 1500. Granted, my organization consists of many departments and has 11000+ employees.

In my role, I interact daily with direct reports and with employees across the department. Most of these interactions are in a one-on-one capacity.

I have a platform and an impactful voice that I aim to use most effectively. Furthermore, working in HR offers much visibility within my department, city-wide, and among the broader citizens, we serve.

I trust my staff. My staff trusts me. Trust is essential in building healthy relationships.

Respect is essential in healthy relationships

I treat my team members with respect and like the grown professionals they are, and they reciprocate.

Making myself relatable, transparent, and vested in the well-being of my employees also equates to them feeling comfortable relating to me.

Furthermore, my staff does not only show up at my door when something or someone needs to be reported to HR. They relate to me outside of our department’s 9-1-1 situations.

Most assuredly, the roles of Human Resources are diverse and complex. Still, HR is often aligned with being consulted when things are going south.

Specifically, when there’s a “Houston, we have a problem” moment — HR gets called while bracing for impact.

I hope for that to change so as an organization, we can intercept an issue before it becomes a problem.

I do not consider myself just another HR personnel. And I understand that if you’ve had an unpleasant encounter with your HR Department, you may not be as receptive to reading beyond this point.

Still, I’m wagering my hopes you’ll read on.

Being pro-employees

I have always been and will always be for employees. While I represent my organization as a whole, I serve people, not processes and systems, and not rules and regulations.

Of course, I let principles and standard operating procedures guide me in my profession. However, I am human first and use resources to serve the people with which I interact.

I am the Human in Human Resources and ensure my interactions with employees reflect the same.

Leading with compassion

In addition to the trusting relationships I have developed with staff, I sometimes step outside my professional role to offer guidance on personal matters.


Because my team comprises whole people whose lives continue outside our organization’s work hours and walls, a life out of synch will likely bleed into other areas, including work.

“When people go to work, they shouldn’t have to leave their hearts home.”
— Betty Bender

I wholeheartedly and consistently applaud my team for the phenomenal work that they are doing. Considering their overall well-being as a top priority, I am not only concerned about my staff’s performance on the clock, but I also express interest in their activities off the clock, including their family and personal time.

I sometimes admonish them with care and compassion to ensure they designate and spend intentional time with their families.

I often discuss bridging the gap between families and careers and offer insights on practical ways to accomplish the same.

One of my creeds is you are replaceable to your employer, never to your family. This personal mantra has guided my decisions regarding my family.

Therefore, while Human Resources Managers are plentiful and come by the bakers’ dozens, I am the only momma to my boys.

I act accordingly.

Remember that giving “your best” to your employer does not equate to giving “your all” and having nothing left for yourself and your family.

Never let overextending yourself at work impact your family time, relationships, health, and overall well-being.

Time is a limited resource. It is the currency that we all want more of. Therefore, it is important not to trade such a precious, finite commodity.

“The trouble is, you think you have time” — Jack Kornfield.

Recognize that employees are an organization’s most valuable assets

I know each member of my staff brings excellent value to our organization. I am also very mindful of the cost of that value.

It isn’t enough for employers to think of the people they hire at face value or contractual — merely there to do the work they are getting paid to do. Moreover, there are times when the compensation does not correlate with the job.

As an employee, you owe it to yourself to evaluate the actual cost of your job or career in terms of the rewards and benefits it provides. Rewards need not only be on a financial scale or reflected based on the size of your bank account.

Instead, when you assess your career, be thorough in your assessment.

Does the value you bring to your employer come at the expense of your well-being and your family? Do you often skip the opportunities to create memories and moments of a lifetime while being the first to volunteer for special projects or extra work?

Do you rarely miss a work deadline but often miss special events honoring your child or children at school?

These are questions that only you can truthfully answer. I implore you to be honest with yourself. In an honest self-assessment, you will determine to whom and for who you are sold out.

As a Human Resources Manager, I represent my profession and assure you I appreciate you, dear employees.

You are the backbone of any thriving, successful business or organization. Your actual value cannot be measured or expressed in dollars. You are more than the sum of your skills, degrees, and experience.

Please see these words as more than letters written across a white page from a stranger’s screen to yours.

Closing Thoughts

Let my words be the inked proof you can share with your colleagues, supervisor, HR Department, and yourself.

I, your new HR advocate, personally attest that I appreciate, value, and respect you as an employee and a fellow human being.

You are influential. You can begin to change the trajectory of how you view HR.

Begin having those good-faith conversations with your Human Resources representative and define what serving you should look and feel like for you.

Know that what you have to say matters. You matter. Furthermore, never underestimate the power and influence of one.

Will that one be YOU?

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Human Resources Professional - MBA | 15 years experience | Relatable working mom of 2 Boys | Wife | Writer

Chula Vista, CA

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