Distrust of HR is Highest at These Tech Companies. Do You Work There?

It’s a common adage that a Human Resources department is there to protect the company, not the employee. Indeed, HR staffers are under no obligation to keep your conversations with them confidential; nor do they need to share decisions or details of a particular case.

In a recent survey, Blind asked some 11,892 tech pros if they trusted Human Resources. Some 70.3 percent answered “No.” Here’s a company-by-company breakdown of the responses:

Intel topped the list of companies with the least amount of trust for Human Resources, followed by Amazon, eBay, Oracle, and Airbnb. Previous Blind surveys have cited Airbnb, eBay, Intel, and Amazon as having significant workplace retaliation issues, as well as a habit of discouraging salary discussion—both matters that heavily involve HR.

“In order to improve our workplaces and allow employees to feel safe, both HR and the employee-employer dynamic will need to be reformed,” Blind added in a note accompanying the data. “Because HR is not always a reliable ally, employees are turning to other options to deal with their workplace issues. Resources like Blind also allow employees to discuss workplace matters with a community, whether it’s to anonymously bring attention to an issue or just get advice from other employees.”

Before approaching HR about workplace issues, you can always attempt to work things out on your own. For example, if a coworker says something that makes you uncomfortable, you can speak up—while making sure you log the incident and aftermath in writing. Loop in your boss; it’s always better that he or she hears directly from you.

If the issue persists, then you can consider getting HR involved. “If you’re afraid of damaging your career, make a preliminary call to HR and state your situation generally to see how they typically handle such matters and what you can expect if you meet with them,” Daniel B. Griffith, director of Conflict Resolution and Dialogue Programs at Indiana University—Purdue University Indianapolis, told Dice last year. “Being educated on the process can alleviate fear and help you decide how to proceed.”

If and when you finally visit HR, make sure to provide documentation of the incident. Remember that HR isn’t automatically on your side, and will make decisions only on the evidence presented. If you’re truly concerned that nobody will support your version of events, you can ask for an outsider to investigate the situation, although not every HR department will listen to that kind of request.

And if the situation is serious, and your internal Human Resources department can’t resolve it, you can consider whether to approach a mediator such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), especially in cases of employment discrimination.

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11 Responses to “Distrust of HR is Highest at These Tech Companies. Do You Work There?”

  1. Simon Rakoff

    Maybe the real problem is with the survey question and not with the HR departments. “Do you trust…” is the kind of question that’s likely to get a lot of “no” response. It’s probably not the kind of question that is likely to give you data that would be helpful in understanding much about sentiment.

  2. HR is not trusted across the board. I’ve worked in Corporate, Education and Government…HR is all the same, can’t trust them or the department. They are there solely to protect their employer.

  3. Timmy testerson

    IBM didnt make the list because they dont have an HR department. Its more like a system of people who know nothing and will “get back to you” once its too late to do anything while shelling out massive bonuses to big wigs who could honestly fall off a clif and no one would notice.

  4. Dennis Dawson

    Do you trust the police? Do you trust the IRS? Do you trust your accountant?

    There are people with whom you must interact to achieve the results you want and feel you deserve. Since they are people, and you are a people, navigating the system requires attention, research, collaboration, cooperation, and compromise.

    Do I trust HR? Heck, I don’t completely trust my friends and family.

  5. Mike Hunt

    The fundamental issue here is that HR is there to protect the company from lawsuits and make sure they have good people working. They work 100% for the companies interests. When the employee’s interests diverge from the company’s, HR will choose the company’s interests 110% of the time. Corporations have as a primary goal, make the most money possible (fiduciary responsibility to shareholders). Until that goal no longer has primacy we will see no change in HR’s trustworthiness. When we see companies diverge from the primacy of money, we see crazy things happen. Gravity Payments did this in late 2014 when it began paying all it’s employees a minimum of $70k/year. The results were terrifying: business doubled, Dan Price (the CEO) took a temporary pay cut (more than made up for within 2 years), and the companies employees are among the happiest you’ll find on Glassdoor (a 4.8 out of 5 rating, higher than Apple, Netflix, Google or Amazon).

  6. I used to be under the mistaken impression that HR was supposed to help a company follow the law and business ethics. Boy was I wrong. For several years, I worked at one of the companies on the list and I learned the hard way not only couldn’t they be trusted, I learned first hand that they’re corrupt and have no problems breaking the law if they think it helps the company. I took absolute proof to HR about an illegal action my management was doing. Instead of investigating it, HR destroyed the evidence and retaliated against me in order to protect my management. (I often wonder if the HR people get bonuses for such actions.)

  7. Another Jack

    One of the first things I tell my junior engineers, especially those new to the workforce, is to understand that HR works for the company. HR is not their advocate. HR will not work for them until their name is the signature on the HR people’s paychecks. Until then HR is there to protect the company from lawsuits. Don’t hate them for it; that’s their job. But don’t trust them either. Seeking help from HR is the nuclear option in any disagreement, and just as with real nuclear weapons you only get to use them once. After that your career is usually fried.

  8. Sure I trust HR! I trust them to protect the company’s interests. That is their job. Their job is NOT to protect me. I have no illusions that they will protect me, unless protecting me furthers the company’s interests. This is not news, it’s the way it has always been since the beginnings of HR.
    Do I trust the police? Absolutely! I trust them to apprehend suspects. That is their job. Their job is NOT “To protect and serve”, that’s just a logo on the side of the car. It is not their job to protect me (and logistically that’s simply not possible, given the citizen to officer ratios), and the courts have very consistently said that. It’s my job to protect myself.
    And so on. 99% of the time, people and organizations serve whomever signs their check. As long as you know who that is, you can make good decisions.

    • Maritza

      I totally agree that HR exist for the benefit of the company, not the employee. I tried to compete for a higher paying position without informing my manager until I had this position secured only to find out HR had told my direct report and that was the end of my position with the company. It seems managers can move up in their careers, but; one has to remain stagnant in the same position year after year, how unfair.