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Old 05-11-2018, 06:44 AM   #21
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This use of language ("human resources") always seemed unfortunate. It's the reason why, in budgeting and staffing meetings, never used the word. Always simply said "people" instead. It's a word that recognizes folks' dignity, rather than trying to enhance one's own stature by stripping away the stature of others.

Also, the world is full of folks straining to sound more polished and more corporate than each other, striving to outmaneuver each other with posturing or putdowns, subtle or otherwise. Even if this behavior weren't ethically offensive, it is so drearily common that there is simply no distinction to be gained from it. It always seemed that what is more rare is not to try to excel at that sordid game, but rather, to be one of the folks who strives for candor rather than cleverness, courtesy rather than condescension, genuineness rather than image, and a certain sensibility in which everyone is presumed to be worthy of being treated with dignity unless they prove otherwise. It is possible to do this and still succeed. And in that world, a person is a person, not only a resource.

As far as HR... although there's some humor and some truth in the saying that HR exists to protect the company rather than the employee, the reality often seems a bit more layered. HR does have obligation to the company, but also to personnel. And it's necessary to make a distinction between a system, and the people in that system. The HR "system" may be tilted more toward helping the company in some cases, but the people in that system are still people, and may skew toward helping individuals. And because they're people, they exhibit the same range of attitudes as people in any field. Some are obstructionist when they should not be, and some are surprisingly helpful, even when it might not be in their best interests.
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Old 05-11-2018, 06:48 AM   #22
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There are exceptions, but most of the HR professionals I’ve known, including HR management, were way more comfortable with right brain tasks, in fact it was a large part of why they chose HR as a career. 401k knowledge is a left brain activity, so it won’t come naturally to many HR people, they really don’t want that duty. They’d rather have written references or to turn you over too someone else. I always knew way more about our 401k than any of our HR peeps, they had other strengths.

HR exists to serve the company and employees, there may be a bias in some matters but it’s not just one or the other. As with most careers, there are almost always two opposing masters.
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Old 05-11-2018, 07:03 AM   #23
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And because they're people, they exhibit the same range of attitudes as people in any field. Some are obstructionist when they should not be, and some are surprisingly helpful, even when it might not be in their best interests.
Yeah, I've seen the range. The worst was a company whose "Personnel" department was jokingly called the "Anti-Personnel" department by employees. One told a (male) employee that they didn't hire women in the leadership track positions because they'd get pregnant and quit (this was the late 1970s, but still...) The woman in charge of dealing with candidates and recruiters was eventually fired for taking kickbacks from her "pet" recruiters, which is why she was always VERY reluctant to deal with any candidates from other sources. I got in because a "non-pet" recruiter sent my CV to the hiring manager directly.

And yet... an HR woman was very supportive in my last job when I practically had to drag my boss there to get the son of a highly-placed, highly-respected senior executive out the door. With her help, we fired him. Dad, fortunately, understood there was a problem and didn't hold it against us.

DH, who was previously married to an HR lady, always told me, "HR isn't your friend" so I've approached them with a certain amount of caution and the knowledge that, in the end, I'd better rely on myself and my research when it comes to benefit decisions because I have to live with them.
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Old 05-11-2018, 07:57 AM   #24
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There are exceptions, but most of the HR professionals I’ve known, including HR management, were way more comfortable with right brain tasks, in fact it was a large part of why they chose HR as a career. 401k knowledge is a left brain activity, so it won’t come naturally to many HR people, they really don’t want that duty. They’d rather have written references or to turn you over too someone else. I always knew way more about our 401k than any of our HR peeps, they had other strengths.

HR exists to serve the company and employees, there may be a bias in some matters but it’s not just one or the other. As with most careers, there are almost always two opposing masters.
I get the left brain/right brain stuff and the fact that anyone in any department might not know all the answers off the top of their head. What I have a problem with is the lack of responsiveness. If they don't know the 401K rules then look them up or ask someone. Why is it that non HR employees know more about the 401K program than they do? I will admit that I do not know EVERYTHING about my area of expertise. But, I can guarantee you that no one in HR, legal, admin or any other section of the company knows more about my area than I do. The things that fall under my purview I own up to and research diligently until I have the answer.
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Old 05-11-2018, 10:58 AM   #25
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I get the left brain/right brain stuff and the fact that anyone in any department might not know all the answers off the top of their head. What I have a problem with is the lack of responsiveness. If they don't know the 401K rules then look them up or ask someone. Why is it that non HR employees know more about the 401K program than they do? I will admit that I do not know EVERYTHING about my area of expertise. But, I can guarantee you that no one in HR, legal, admin or any other section of the company knows more about my area than I do. The things that fall under my purview I own up to and research diligently until I have the answer.
In the case of my previous, mega-corp empl*yer, the HR dept. has specialists, i.e., compensation, employee relations consultants, benefits specialists, etc. It sometimes required several attempts - especially with benefits specialists - to get a response. Depending on the nature of one's query could add additional delays or even getting lost altogether in the shuffle based on current demand. Adding insult to injury was the company's intranet web portal. The search engine was laughable. So, although one could presumably search the intranet for the 401K plan SPD's, good luck finding it.

At the bare minimum, a helpful response in your particular case was in order. If the HR dept. didn't have the information readily available to answer your questions, at least they could have pointed you in the direction where you could source it yourself.
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Old 05-11-2018, 01:41 PM   #26
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I think they should change Human Resources department name to "Limited Resources"

And that department name can be used for any department really. I've found the things that most impact me, are also the toughest to get answers and change on.

I was upset about our 401k offerings. This is pretty simple complaint. After getting passed onto the comptroller and me making a semi-public stink about the lack of offerings, the comptroller began planning for changes.

If there is no plan to change, then there will not be change, or bad change will just rear its head.

The icing on the cake...the plan we changed to forced everyone into a managed portfolio..when I opted out, I got charged all the txn fee's and now get charged $15/quarter for the single ETF I own.

I later realized the only reason we changed plans was an attempt to save money. We were saving money with the plan administrator by them forcing people into that managed portfolio. I was seriously disappointed with the plan representative they sent to explain all of this.

He spent literally about 30seconds quickly brushing over how to opt out of the plan. And of course there was no time for questions at the end of the presentation...oh and there was immediately a presentation after the one I attended. Sooo if you want to ask questions, email them to HR and they can fwd on, or try and stop by after the last presentation of the day, oh but by the way the rep has a flight to catch so they don't have much time for questions.

I am fortunate my company allows us to contribute 75% of our salaries to 401k. Or at least that is how the system is configured.

I wanted to ask questions about in-service withdrawals, fees etc.

Soo when I finally did talk to the plan administrator about the fee's, they referred me back to my companies 401k administrator.

I'm still pissed it costs me $60/yr to fulfill 24 ETF orders. Basically comes out to a $2.50/per trade fee which to me is ridiculous. So much for fringe benefits.
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Old 05-11-2018, 01:46 PM   #27
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DH, who was previously married to an HR lady, always told me, "HR isn't your friend" so I've approached them with a certain amount of caution and the knowledge that, in the end, I'd better rely on myself and my research when it comes to benefit decisions because I have to live with them.
I've learned through trials and tribulations that HR is definitely not your friend. They will smile at you while you conversate, but do not mistake that for friendly. That's just a smile whether vindictive, or otherwise.

HR is the company's lawyers friends, that is it. HR serves in the best interest of the corporation, and that means just making sure things are done legally, to avoid expensive litigation and bad press of course.
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Old 05-11-2018, 02:40 PM   #28
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"The IRS Rule of 55 allows an employee who is laid off, fired, or who quits a job between the ages of 55 and 59 1/2 to pull money out of his 401(k) or 403(b) plan without penalty." As long as your assets were transferred to a 401(k) and not an IRA, the rule should apply, but you'll have to resign or be laid off to take advantage of the rule. Once you do this, the account is yours (the rule is per the IRS, not your company).
The IRS Rule of 55 requires that you keep your money in your employer's 401k plan. So it is important to check your plan document to ensure that you can leave your money in the 401k plan and that the plan's distribution options will meet your needs. DH's 401k required employees to remove their funds from the 401k plan (i.e. rollover into an IRA) when they separated from service, essentially taking away the opportunity to use the Rule of 55. My 401k plan requires distributions for the following year to be locked in each Fall.
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Old 05-11-2018, 03:15 PM   #29
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WOW, talk about nightmares. Many good people have been screwed over by these virtually nonproductive scum. I have no idea how anyone in HR can have a clear conscience. Low life's come in many forms. Now back to my happy ER.
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Old 05-11-2018, 03:23 PM   #30
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A vast majority of my MC's HR was outsourced, - and I mean offshore outsourced - years ago. It was so bad it was a big deal when it was renegotiated to revert to onshore-outsourced.

A literal handful of actual employee HR staff remained, like 1 to 1000 ratio (MC was about 10x OP's).

For stuff like the OP describes, I would have absolutely never have even bothered to call HR. Useless, and any answer would be meaningless unless it was part of documented policy which I would have found more quickly.

The one or two live people? Priceless. I made friends, fast, and had several good long discussions about difficult situations in the last few years, both for myself and my staff at the time.

OP's situation is created by a merger in which HR was not clearly thought out. Those folks in those jobs are probably just as bewildered and trying to make do, without anyone above them having better answers either.
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Old 05-11-2018, 04:32 PM   #31
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Always remember that HR is there for the company, not the employees.
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Old 05-11-2018, 09:43 PM   #32
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Always remember that HR is there for the company, not the employees.
Litigation Mitigation.
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Old 05-12-2018, 04:50 AM   #33
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Litigation Mitigation.
+1

I recall attending a HR training session at mega-corp where we (leaders) were told by HR that their primary purpose was to keep us "legally defensible".

And as many leaders at mega-corp subsequently learned, that meant a presumption of guilt existed when it came to any matters involving employee relations.
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Old 05-12-2018, 05:22 AM   #34
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WOW, talk about nightmares. Many good people have been screwed over by these virtually nonproductive scum. I have no idea how anyone in HR can have a clear conscience. Low life's come in many forms. Now back to my happy ER.
Some can't. I have a friend who became a Pastor after being in HR in the 90s, when much of the focus of various megacorps changed from advocating for the people, to advocating for the company's bottom line. This friend nearly had a nervous breakdown over dealing with all the layoff politics and reduced ability to help people.
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Old 05-12-2018, 06:57 AM   #35
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I have a friend who became a Pastor after being in HR in the 90s, when much of the focus of various megacorps changed from advocating for the people, to advocating for the company's bottom line. This friend nearly had a nervous breakdown over dealing with all the layoff politics and reduced ability to help people.
Added stress seems to have impacted many disciplines over the years, not unique to HR, and from entry level to management of many private companies. Some/many here retired early as a result...

Kinda sad to see the blanket bashing of HR by some here. There are good and bad in EVERY line of work, even formerly revered professions have some very bad apples among the good.
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Old 05-12-2018, 08:24 AM   #36
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Added stress seems to have impacted many disciplines over the years, not unique to HR, and from entry level to management of many private companies. Some/many here retired early as a result...

Kinda sad to see the blanket bashing of HR by some here. There are good and bad in EVERY line of work, even formerly revered professions have some very bad apples among the good.
I agree with this. Especially the long time career folks who saw their profession change out from under them due to new and innovative business practices. This is what happened to my friend.

Some days when I wake up and see my investments doing well, I wonder if I'm part of the problem, because ultimately as an owner of the stocks, I am part of the reason upper level management has gotten so bottom line focused and lost site of the communities, and the world, they work in.
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Old 05-12-2018, 10:57 AM   #37
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I agree with this. Especially the long time career folks who saw their profession change out from under them due to new and innovative business practices. This is what happened to my friend.

Some days when I wake up and see my investments doing well, I wonder if I'm part of the problem, because ultimately as an owner of the stocks, I am part of the reason upper level management has gotten so bottom line focused and lost site of the communities, and the world, they work in.
I finished my career in mid level management and my line of work seemingly 'changed out from under me' as you describe. Corporate did become more and more demanding (often because of shareholders), forcing decisions we hadn't faced before. At the same time, an ever increasing number of employees became more unrealistic and demanding - always wanting bigger raises, faster promotions, enhanced benefits, etc. and being more bitter and outspoken than generations before. So I'd say there are two sides to the coin. I was not in HR, but guess who often bore the brunt of unrealistic employees day after day, year after year?

I also realize as a shareholder I am part of the problem. We want great returns but we may not want to know how they are delivered. Just as we don't want to see Americans lose their jobs, yet we buy lower priced foreign goods without ever considering whose livelihood is impacted. It's a double edged sword.
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Old 05-12-2018, 05:25 PM   #38
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Some days when I wake up and see my investments doing well, I wonder if I'm part of the problem, because ultimately as an owner of the stocks, I am part of the reason upper level management has gotten so bottom line focused and lost site of the communities, and the world, they work in.
+1

Although straying off-topic a bit here, your post reminded of something my dearly departed, yet wise dad once remarked to me. He wondered aloud what happened to the days when there was nothing wrong with making a *modest* profit.

Nowadays, it seems as though modest profitability is no longer good enough and a company's stock can lose value merely from failing to meet Wall Street's expectations.
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Old 05-12-2018, 06:32 PM   #39
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" I sent an email to HR. No response. I went into see the local HR person. She said she would look into it. That was 4 days ago. I just found out that her last day with the company is tomorrow. Lovely."

And that lovely ex HR person is very likely one of the new ER-ORG members that signed up this week

Don't know how long you have been in the workforce but as an employee or non - executive level manager, HR , ER , Labor Relations, " People " or whatever name , they are not your friend. Never have been . Keep in mind, those who work in that function have a thankless position, everyone hates them. Employees and Managers alike.
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