HR representatives support employees in a myriad of ways. They may provide guidance to employees that want to further their career, and help them navigate continuing education opportunities. HR reps implement training programs for managers, and provide administrative and compliance-related support when complex issues arise. Promoting health and wellness initiatives in the workplace and helping employees understand and take advantage of their benefits are also top priorities for HR representatives.
Of course, the most important fact that HR representatives must keep in mind is that employees are human beings, and may need help navigating complex issues, such as:
It is vital that your HR representative has the skills and experience needed to handle a wide range of employee-related issues. That's where an experienced professional employer organization (PEO) can be beneficial. You may be wondering how HR and PEOs collaborate on your employees' most pressing needs. Here are four questions that your HR representative should be able to easily answer.
1. What benefits am I eligible for?
HR representatives should be able to clearly communicate details of company-provided health insurance benefits to inquiring employees. Workers depend on HR professionals for clear and accurate guidance when making their choices during open enrollment, and understanding their actual level of coverage.
In addition, HR reps should be able to answer a variety of questions about rights guaranteed by law, such as workers’ compensation claims and OSHA regulations. Furthermore, if the employer requires an employee to purchase equipment necessary for the demands of the job (such as a dedicated cell phone), then in certain cases the employee may be entitled to reimbursement from the employer.
2. Can my HR Representative help me navigate a personal circumstance?
HR representatives should also be prepared to help employees navigate a broad spectrum of personal (and often unexpected) circumstances that arise. Employees may need special accommodations for family, medical, or mental health reasons. These could include:
Hours reduction for mental health reasons
Accommodations for a disability
HR reps should have the requisite knowledge to provide the employee with accurate information around his or her rights, and what would be involved in each possible decision. For example, the representative would explain the rights and benefits that a pregnant employee might be eligible for under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
3. Are there advancement opportunities within the company?
HR representatives are also alert to help employees further their career, if they desire to do so. For instance, the HR representative can work with an employee's manager to schedule time to "shadow" other employees in different departments, and thus expand the employee's knowledge base. The HR rep can offer resources for additional training, in the form of in-house development courses or other programs. They may also direct the employee's attention to company-approved continuing education opportunities, provided by either local facilities or online institutions.
4. Can my HR representative help me resolve a work-related issue with a co-worker?
At times, HR specialists are called upon to mediate work-related issues and disputes between two or more parties. The rep should maintain an objective view, and seek a resolution that's fair, realistic, and — ideally — acceptable to both sides.
For instance, the HR rep may seek feedback from the manager of the disputing parties, and even ask the manager to join him in a mediation session between the two employees. They should always carefully document the details around any work-related issue, as well as the actions taken and the reasons why they were taken.
In summary, a good HR representative spends time with employees, schedules regular meetings with them, clearly communicates their benefits and responsibilities, and answers their questions as best he or she can. It's no secret that a great HR department leads to a satisfied and productive workforce. In fact, one study found that 75% of employees would stay longer at an organization that listens to and addresses their concerns.
Working with a reputable PEO that handles administrative services often gives HR reps more time to spend with employees. This leads to greater productivity for the entire organization. In any event, HR representatives play an important role in supporting employees on a daily basis, and their contributions should never be overlooked.