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People think HR is...

Half serious, and half tongue-in-cheek - what attitudes, misunderstandings, stereotypes and so on have you come across regarding the HR profession? I know there are some funny ideas out there as well as more serious misunderstandings. Does your family really understand what you do? Friends? Career guidance? 

For me

My partner is an ex print-union rep, and as far as he is concerned employers and HR are evildoer exploiters, if allowed to get away with anything :-) We do have some interesting discussions in our house.

When I decided to career change to HR I was told by a relative 'ooh no, all they do is sack people all the time, it's for horrible people.'

As an HR Business Partner, people sometimes think I'm a part owner of the business.

That accusatory 'HR work for the business, not the employees.' Well, yes, same as IT, marketing, sales, production, facilities and so on, so why are they surprised by that?

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  • My son thinks I am like Lord Sugar and just sit at a desk and point and say "you're fired"
    I recently had a minor accident (no injuries and not my fault) but when the police were taking my details and asked what job I did, he raised his eyebrows when I said HR and said oh I don't like HR but you seem nice so its OK.
    I think we get this reputation as its HR who are beside the manager during disciplinary meetings and dismissals so its easier for the employee to blame it all on HR rather than their manager who they think should be on their side.
    Throughout my career I have been labelled the blonde hitler and the blonde witch which I find rather amusing as I do have good working relationship with all my managers and employees I come in contact with. But you cant please everyone.
  • Some people seem to think that HR equals mean, incompetent people who can't be trusted and are always looking to "harm" you.

    Others think you are their personal counselor/psychologist and only there to help them with their problems.

    And managers think that you can magically resolve all their workforce problems so that they don't have to deal with it themselves.
  • Some interesting replies on here so far. My other half thinks I do nothing other than chat to people. My role is less 'traditional' HR and more about people and culture, so hence maybe a difference in the opinion in my role. Now we are both working from home I'm hoping he has seen that I do, what he considers as actual work!! :)
  • I've been told I am in a "non job"!!
  • In reply to Nicola Halls:

    Every time I renew or apply for insurance, car, travel, house etc, when I declare my occupation as HR Manager I always end up either as Manager or Personnel Manager (and often the latter category refers to the armed forces only). I suppose from an insurance perspective the HR bit isn't necessarily relevant but it would be nice for our profession to be recognised in the insurance industry - or perhaps I am just insured with the wrong companies!
  • In reply to Tracey:

    I always get a 'oh no, what are you here for now' when i park my car at one of our sites!

    I am sure i've had a few nicknames but i've never had them said to my face...! :)
  • In reply to Nicola:

    Nicola I can definitely relate to that one. You can see them all peering out lol. I have changed cars since lockdown so will be able to go undetected for the first visit back to sites.
  • In reply to Tracey:

    I changed my car at the turn of the year and did enjoy being undetected for a couple of weeks!
  • In reply to Nicola Halls:

    Yes, one of my neighbours said this.
  • My daughter refers to me as the "funsponge" and my son says he's given up asking me anything as I go in to everything wearing my HR hat, lol. My Husband thinks I just have a drawer full of biscuits and drink tea all day. I am wfh at the moment and he is fed up with all my Team Meetings and skype calls. Never mind I love doing HR and the people thing is great.