Weekly Wrap: The Secrets That Employees Don’t Want HR to Know

I wade through all sorts of content during the course of any given week, and a great deal of it is not particularly memorable.

PR people pitch me all sorts of stories, possible interviews with executives pushing a book/company/phone app/whatever, or somebody who has a new product. webinar, or other opportunity. Friends and colleagues send me story links. And, I get flooded with all the newsletters and other content I’ve signed up for at some point along the way.

It’s a lot to take in, and usually, most of it is pretty routine and predictable. Rarely do I find that something jumps out and screams “READ ME.”

And, that’s why this newsletter from Care.com was different, because it had a subject line and a post that caught my attention The title? Eight Secrets Employees Don’t Want HR to Know.

Some things employees don’t want to tell HR

I don’t recall ever signing up for a newsletter from Care.com, and in fact, I don’t believe I had ever been to the website before, but a story on the things employees really don’t want their HR department to know about them was one I had to take a look at because it’s a great topic you don’t hear a lot about.

The post says that,

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We asked Alison Green, creator of the Ask a Manager blog and author of How to Get a Job: Secrets of a Hiring Manager, and Liz Ryan, founder and CEO of Human Workplace, an HR-focused think tank and online community, for some of the top situations that employees hide from HR.”

Here are a few of the things that employees don’t want to tell HR about that resonated with me.

  • I’m job hunting. From Care.com:  Employees treat job hunting as a covert operation, and sometimes they’re justified. “In some workplaces, you will be pushed out before you are ready to go,” says Green. But you need employment until you get that new job or until you make that cross-country move. Know your manager, says Ryan. If you have a good working relationship, you might give longer notice (which benefits the company) without fearing repercussions (like getting fired).
  • My long commute is a taking a toll. From Care.com:  Your extensive commute is exhausting, and you want to try telecommuting. “Ultimately, this is your manager’s call,” says Green. “It comes down to culture and the manager’s own personal take on it.” Present a detailed plan explaining the benefits to you and the company. Suggest starting slow with one or two days a week to work out any kinks.
  • I hate my boss. From Care.com: “If you don’t feel happy about your relationship with your boss, it causes your performance to falter and your health can suffer,” says Ryan. These complex human situations are tricky and often go beyond any HR policies and procedures. Ryan suggests asking HR to help find a solution based on the actual relationship mismatch, not on blame. Removing the power struggle should lead to a better, more realistic solution.

Maybe Care.com just positioned this article differently, but if I’m in HR, I really WANT to know the kinds of things that my employees may be hesitant to let me know about. That’s why you may want to check out Eight Secrets Employees Don’t Want HR to Know, because the old adage is very true — what you don’t know CAN hurt you.

Where HR is headed to deliver value

Of course, there’s a lot more than things employees don’t want HR to know in the news this week. Here are some HR and workplace-related items you may have missed. This is TLNT’s weekly round-up of news, trends, and insights from the world of talent management. I do it so you don’t have to.

  • The strange questions job candidates ask. You hear a lot about the odd questions interviewers pose to job applicants, but now there are a number of articles floating around about the odd things that candidates ask in interviews. Fast Company recently detailed a number of them, and  you’ll want to check them out. My favorites — “Is it OK if I bark at your dogs?” and “Would you pay me less so I can stiff my ex?
  • Dave Ulrich on HR Dreams. There are few people, if any, who know more about HR than Dave Ulrich. The prolific author, speaker, and University of Michigan Ross School of Business professor has probably forgotten more about human resources than most of us will ever learn in our lifetime, so it is always great when Dave digs into HR from his deeply insightful perspective. This article/ white paper on his own RBL Group website is titled HR Dreams: Where HR Is headed to deliver value. As always, Dave delivers great insights about the future of HR that all of us need to consider.
  • Ominous trends for labor unions? This Associated Press story in the Seattle Times notes that although the percentage of American workers in a labor union held steady at 11.3 percent in 2013. some of the trends that are emerging aren’t good for organized labor. As the story points out, “Unions added about 282,000 new members in the private sector as the economy improved. But that was partly offset by the loss of 118,000 members in the public sector, as state and local governments and public school districts continued to face financial pressure from shrinking budgets. For decades, the growth of union workers in government has helped compensate for steep losses in manufacturing, construction and other private industries where unions once thrived. … But budget pressures have meant layoffs and hiring freezes for many state and local governments. Public unions have also been on the defensive in Wisconsin, Michigan and other states where Republican governors have pushed measures to limit union bargaining rights.”

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.

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