I had asked one of our HR ladies via e-mail 3 different times to supply me with the tuition reimbursement policy our company has. After waiting over 6 months I went to our companies intranet site and searched “tuition reimbursement”. I found the policy and sent her the link since she obliviously didn’t know where to find it.
A few minutes after finding it I received an e-mail from our evil HR. Manager asking where I found it and that it because it was not to be available to the public. How is that right? How am I supposed to follow policies that I am not privy to? Is he being evil or are HR policies not for employees to view?
Of course he’s being evil. That’s what we HR types do.
You’ve got several different issues going on here. Let’s talk about issue number 1: HR not returning e-mails. You have a simple question—what is the tuition reimbursement policy? Now, depending on the size of your company the person you know as “HR” may not (and judging from the lack of response, does not) know what the policy is. So, she ignored your e-mail. Or she forwarded it and that person ignored it and she didn’t follow up. This is completely unprofessional and downright rude.
If she didn’t know the answer and didn’t know whom to ask, the proper response is to e-mail you back and apologetically tell you she doesn’t know the answer. Then the other proper response is for her boss to fire her because she should either know the answer to that question, know who to ask, or be willing to wade in and find out who knows.
The second issue is that your intranet security stinks. If there is a document that you shouldn’t have access to, you shouldn’t be able to get to it without some serious hacking skills. It sounds like you just surfed around and found it. Bad intranet security.
The third, and really most important point, is that your HR manager is paranoid and wrong. I’ve never understood the desire to “hide” information from employees. Do you have a tuition reimbursement policy or not? If you do, make it available to everyone. Do you have a vacation policy or not? If you make it available to everyone.
I know, the “little people” can’t possibly understand big, complicated policies! Plus, the world will come to an end if we change one of them, so we should keep them secret. Well, we can let managers know because everyone knows managers can handle that information, whereas individual contributors cannot.
If you haven’t guessed, I hate this attitude. In any organiztion that doesn’t hire teenagers (and even in those that do, but I’ll grant you this much), everyone should be able to handle policies and even handle the knowledge that not all policies apply to all people. Get this, people even understand that sometimes policies change.
I’m a big fan of openess. If you can’t justify why you have a policy in place, you probably shouldn’t have it. If a policy is so complicated that posting it would lead to confusion among the masses, perhaps you should revise your policy so that it makes sense.
I realize that initial posting of policies can cause phone calls. I get that. (I’ve also been the recipient of many dumb phone calls, including ones that went someone like this: “I’m looking at the tuition reimbursement policy and it says that in order to be reimbursed, I have to get at least a C in the class. So, if I get a D can I be reimubursed?”) I also think that if someone’s knickers get too twisted after reading a policy you’ve got a management issue.
And that is why HR is afraid of posting policies. We’d rather avoid the issues of having someone question. We’d rather avoid having managers manage their people. In short, we’re wimps.
We shouldn’t be. We won’t be respected as an organization until we stop being wimps.