Yes, Life Is Too Short to Mess Around With Bad HR

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A good friend of mine is a Human Resources Director. A long, anonymous complaint was filed against her.

In the body of the text, she was accused of crazy things. Who knows if the complaint is true? Nobody is paying attention because the letter was obscene and nuts.

Listen, there are awful HR people out there. People who think the rules don’t apply to them. Or just bad HR people who have the best of intentions but get it wrong.

How to complain about HR

Life is all about having crucial conversations. If you have a problem with HR, talk to HR. If you truly cannot talk to someone in the organization, here is how to write a letter of complaint.

  • Write it to someone other than HR. Sunshine is the best disinfectant. Contact the CEO or the CFO. Call your legal compliance hotline. Find a third-party who is fair and reasonable.
  • Be brief and concise. If you have a point to make, make it.
  • Don’t get personal or obscene. Be professional and respectful. Your main point will get lost in vulgar and offensive language.
  • Remember that anonymity offers false comfort. No one is really anonymous. Our subconscious betrays us. Make sure that everything you write is true. Be prepared to defend it.
  • Don’t threaten legal action. People will freak out.
  • Don’t threaten to talk to the media. Your letter will go in the “crazy employee” file.
  • Ask for a public display of good faith during the investigation of HR. Maybe this means removing the HR colleague. Maybe this means a departmental survey.
  • Define resolution. In your letter, outline how you want the situation resolved. Be clear and specific.

“Be prepared to be disappointed”

In short, don’t be crazy.

And I have to warn you: Be prepared to be disappointed. Although an organization is (sorta) morally obligated to investigate serious and legitimate complaints, situations at work are often resolved to the satisfaction of your employer.

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And if you hate HR, you will probably never feel satisfied with what happens.

My suggestion?

If someone in Human Resources has it out for you or is making your life miserable, it’s time to leave. Life is to short to mess around with bad HR.

You can find more from Laurie Ruettimann at her blog, The Cynical Girl.


Laurie Ruettimann (LFR) is a former Human Resources leader turned influential speaker, writer and strategist. She owns a human resources consultancy that offers a wide array of HR services to human resources leaders and executives. Check out her LinkedIn profile here. You may know Ruettimann as the creator of The Cynical Girl and Punk Rock HR (retired), which Forbes named as a top 100 website for women. You may have also read her book, I AM HR: 5 Strategic Ways to Break Stereotypes and Reclaim HR. (RepCap Press, 2014.) 


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