8 Pitfalls to Avoid for HR Professionals

Human Resource has moved from being backroom boys of yore, determining the face and culture of any organization. The HR department, apart from carrying some administrative duties (which are now totally automated), is involved in the vital “human element” of the company.

One of the biggest changes in the HR department is seen in its involvement in employee satisfaction and work culture, both of which reflect productivity and output.

HR is also a minefield. Human beings are complex, and with the workforce empowered with a lot of rights and privileges, if something is not upto par, then the HR department has to answer for it.

HR mistakes to avoid

With everything from employee safety to legal issues to employee mental health under its purview, human resources is a very tricky area that can only be performed effectively by real professionals in the field. Hence, it is prudent to be aware of what mistakes not to make and what to look out for.

Keep the Employee Handbook updated 

It is the explainer on what the company expects from its employees. It passes on a lot of the responsibility and worry of maintaining behavioral standards into the hands of the employees themselves. All employees sign a job contract where they agree to comply to the rules and regulations of their place of work.

Along with behavioral expectations, the handbook also deals with procedures for dealing with issues that do arise. Keep it updated with all the changes that are going through the company and the related compliance issues that crop up, and you will save yourself a lot of time and undue angst.

Being Overly Familiar

HR personnel are expected to be personable and available. This means cultivating an atmosphere in which employees feel comfortable, and even happy talking to one another.

But being approachable does not mean being too familiar with your colleagues and peers. It is a fine balance that an HR person needs to tread, where they are available to lend a helping hand but should not become the receptacle of your gossip and venting of all your work grievances. Imagine, you are good friends with someone in the office and another employee makes a complaint about them regarding their promotion, increment or whatever. If the complaint is unjustified and you decide not to take any steps, you are open to accusations of favoring that person due to your friendship. Even a fair assessment of the situation will be termed as biased.

 Similarly, fraternizing with people in a romantic capacity is very tricky with great potential for someone to lose their job.

Mishandling Information

The HR personnel is privy to a lot of information regarding the company and even the employees. The key to doing a professional job on this is to have an absolutely no tolerance policy on sharing personal information. 

But there are times when you inadvertently share information without naming names or putting it in vague terms. Even if you don’t go into much detail, if there is even the slightest chance that an employee discovers you have shared a personal issue, or the company’s information about prospective buyouts, retrenchment, merging of divisions or some such thing, you are liable to be legally vulnerable, and sure to lose your job and reputation too professionally.

Ignorance of procedures and rules

HR teams have to be absolutely conversant with compliance issues.

Failing to be in compliance with any of the laws over issues like overtime and wage allotment could land you and your company in some big problems. Having a vague sense of employment rules and laws is not enough. Detailed knowledge is the only way to cover your back.

Data Mismanagement

Data attacks have become common and a bane for companies. Cybersecurity lags behind cybercrime, as the hackers seem to be always one step ahead. Hence, having a strong data security tool or a dedicated team to handle all personnel and professional data of employees and customers is paramount.

The issue of data theft is one no HR department can take any risks over or ignore.


Documentation means that you record with detail and consistency every single thing that you have to deal with.

As the HR department is privy to a lot of sensitive issues, the chances of being held responsible for any problems that crop up are high. If you keep a clear and concise record of all the happenings and events that occur, any misdemeanor or accusation can be easily handled and replied to. It will help you avoid any pitfalls that a lot of HR teams run into.

If you have proof of the doings and non-doings in some cases, then you can present your side of the events clearly and concisely.

Keeping up

An HR personnel needs to network and be well connected to know what is going on in the industry. The digital technology is constantly being updated and people need to keep pace. Many new tools and resources make life easier for HR professionals and even are a requirement for a job well done.

Upskilling and reskilling are a part of the profession. Integration of technology allows for smooth exchange and flow of information, and one can keep an eye on the happenings in the workplace.

Test policy changes

Do not implement major HR changes without first taking inputs from the people that will be affected by it. Doing dry runs is a good way to avoid putting people’s backs up. Be gracious if it is not accepted and move on.

All said and done, you should professionally practice what you preach. Dress appropriately, do not leave yourself open to accusations of favoring one over the other, and seek mentorship or help when required.

Do not stay in a place where people are not treated respectfully and grievances are pushed under the carpet. If the boss is overbearing or behaves inappropriately, then look for greener pastures. 

Anna Verasai
Anna Versai is a Team Writer at The HR Digest; she covers topics related to Recruitment, Workplace Culture, Interview Tips, Employee Benefits, HR News and HR Leadership. She also writes for Technowize, providing her views on the Upcoming Technology, Product Reviews, and the latest apps and softwares.

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