Q&A: Who is HR’s HR?

Lora Patterson, HR Advisor at Zenefits
Jul 21, 2022

As the future of work continues to evolve, employers and HR leaders are seeing a steady increase in the importance of how we treat the people who make up our organizations. But unfortunately, HR employees themselves might get forgotten. On this episode, Lora Patterson, Senior People Ops Advisor at Zenefits, joins to share where employees […]

As the future of work continues to evolve, employers and HR leaders are seeing a steady increase in the importance of how we treat the people who make up our organizations. But unfortunately, HR employees themselves might get forgotten.

On this episode, Lora Patterson, Senior People Ops Advisor at Zenefits, joins to share where employees working in HR should turn to when they’re the ones facing an internal conflict.

Additional Resources:

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On this episode, you’ll hear:

  • [00:46] Who HR should report to
  • [01:36] When to approach and when to quit
  • [02:45] Hiring outside help with HR
  • [04:02] Involving a legal team or expert
  • [05:45] When there might not be a solution to the problem



Welcome to POPS, the show that shows you how to shift from human resources paperwork to people operations for the new world of work. How by answering one question at a time I’m Lora Patterson, Senior People Ops Advisor at TriNet Zenefits here to help answer the question who is HR’s HR. As the future of work continues to evolve.

Employers and HR leaders are seeing a steady increase in the importance of how we treat the people who make up our organizations. We’ve seen an emphasis like never before on employees, mental health, how to survive the great resignation and figuring out how to juggle a remote team. Naturally the future of work highlights the wellbeing of the company as a whole.

Unfortunately, the people we might forget to ask about are our HR leaders, the. Where do they turn to when they’re the ones facing an internal conflict? What happens when the HR person themselves needs to speak to someone who can they expect to be there for them when they encounter a bump the road.

Below are a few solutions that I recommend implementing. If you find yourself in one of these situations, many sources say HR should report to the CEO. Others say they should report to the head of finance. In reality, we can assume there is no one size fits all approach. When it comes to finding a manager for the people manager.

In reality, even if you do find the perfect person to manage the HR manager, there’s really no guarantee. This person will be capable of addressing the HR manager’s concerns. Like any other employee, the person running the people, operations behind a business should have their own basis for workplace conflict solutions.

However, it becomes more complicated when they’re the ones experiencing a problem internally. And especially for HR managers working in small businesses, there may not be someone they can turn to since the next person on the hierarchy is the owner or another decision maker who could be part of the problem.

When an HR director is having an organizational conflict involving themselves, they need to know when to outsource the problem when to approach their boss, the business owner, and maybe when it’s time for them to quit. The most glaringly obvious truth about this problem is that there simply might not be an appropriate internal person to bring the problem to.

Issue that many small business HR people face is that they’re a department of one, a company with more than one HR professional on board could easily have the people operations team simply report to one another with only one person on the HR roster as is the case with most small and even mid-size organizations, it can get sticky.

If there’s only one person. On that roster, something I see becoming more and more common for business managers is the hiring of an outside party to work in tandem with their company. As the HR department. Most of these service providers cater to the company as a whole with ease to use software containing all the resources and HR team might need in one central location to manage people operat.

In fact research from Deloitte in 2019 shows that only 12% of HR leaders have access to a strong outsourcing technology. In some cases, a full service people, operations package might be needed, but it’s important to note that many of these companies offer external HR professionals like myself to service individuals at companies all over the.

If the one man HR team does not feel comfortable going to someone on the internal team with a conflict, it could potentially be necessary to have some assistance outside of the company in case it’s ever needed. Another option for businesses that have access to it would be to take the problem to an outsource legal team.

Your company does not have the need for a full in-house legal team. Outsource legal advisors can be a great altern. These experts are helpful to have on hand to provide speedy expertise only when you need it. And it saves your company from paying out another salary from someone internal. Sometimes all it takes is an outside perspective and someone without that bias who can share their insight and help you come up with a solution.

When you are in the middle of a complicated and difficult issue, it can be hard to visualize what the next steps are and who you can trust with sensitive information. HR experts need to know about regulations in order to be in compliance with employment laws, but legal professionals can also provide their insights from their point of view, asking for advice can come in many forms and a legal expert can be a great option.

One solution that might feel like a no brainer would be to take the problem to the top, the food chain, to the business owner. It’s common for companies to have the head of HR report to the CEO. According to a study by X or HR, 61% of companies surveyed use this managerial structure with 13% reporting to the head of finance.

Having this type of managerial structure makes a powerful statement to the employees of the organization and ensures that the wider teams, internal conflicts are handled straight away by someone who understands the potential risks. First. In a perfect world. This solution would immediately eliminate the conflict.

However, as we all know, by now, even our bosses don’t have all the answers. And even if they do, it might not be the answer we want or need to hear in tough times, people managers tend to be a very solution motivated worker. After all they are in charge of handling all of the company’s problems. So why wouldn’t they be able to figure out an issue they themselves are experiencing in their position.

They often develop unique relationships with their team members, causing them to fill a personal obligation to solve problems within the company. Unfortunately, the solution isn’t always out there, according to a LinkedIn study, the HR department sees higher turnover than any others at 14%. There might come a time when the HR manager has to accept that their problem is not gonna be solved and it’s time to take their talent elsewhere.

Of course, this should be a last case scenario. If other solutions are not able to be implemented because of this, it’s important for employers to take a step back and put themselves in the HR director’s shoes, above all else. Business owners, as the head of the organization should make sure their HR managers know who they can count on when they’re experiencing a problem in the work.

Ideally, there should already be a process in place for conflicts or people managers experience. If you are on the HR team and you’re not aware of the process, ask for clarification, emphasize the importance of giving everyone on the team, including yourself, support from the company. No one should be exempt from feeling like their voices are being heard and especially not the person amplifying everyone.

Else’s voice. Do you have a question for us? Click the link in the show notes, or if you’ve got other ideas and feedback about our show, send them to podcasts.com.

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About The People Ops Podcast

Every week, we share the decisions, struggles, and successes for keeping up with an evolving workforce and a changing workplace. No matter if you’ve been in HR or are just getting started, this combination of transformational stories with actionable ideas, as well as context on hot issues, keeps you up-to-date while answering the questions you didn’t even know you had.

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