A good day is one where you can head into work, focus on your job, and go home feeling accomplished. Unfortunately, every day isn’t likely to be so productive. Whether you had a rough night’s sleep, you’ve got a personal problem on your mind, or you’re dealing with a frustrating coworker, sometimes we aren’t able to give 100 percent all eight hours of the day.
At what point does this mean you should talk to human resources? There are times when you should talk to HR, and some of them may surprise you.
If you’re calling in a mental health day or sleeping in after a rough night, you probably don’t have to talk to HR. In these cases, you can probably just get ahold of your supervisor and they will enter your time off for you.
If instead, you experience a serious illness, you may want to talk to HR. For example, if you are sick enough to take more than two or three days off, you may have to provide a doctor’s note to the human resources department. If you develop a long-term illness or disability, you will definitely want to talk to HR about your situation.
In some cases, you may be able to get workers’ compensation for your illness. For example, if you get coronavirus on the job, you may be entitled to benefits. Just keep in mind that you need to be able to prove that you were exposed at work, which means you’re more likely to get benefits if you work in a medical setting, or in a workplace that is known for having an outbreak, like a meat packing plant.
If you get a paper cut or slip and catch yourself on the sink in the bathroom, there’s really no reason to share your injury with others. If instead, you injure yourself enough that you need to visit the doctor, you should speak to HR.
Injuries are more common with physical jobs, like in construction, but there are many other common workplace injuries that may qualify you for workers’ compensation. Overexertion, heavy machinery, and slippery surfaces can all cause a serious accident in manufacturing and office settings too.
Harassment and Bullying
The most common reason to visit with someone in human resources is harassment and bullying. A few common types of harassment you may want to talk to someone about include:
- Sexual harassment
- Offensive jokes
- Offensive pictures
It can be hard to figure out if the harassment warrants a trip to the HR department because you may not want to get your coworker in trouble, but if it makes you uncomfortable, and your discomfort is affecting how you feel about coming to work, as well as your productivity, it’s definitely worth scheduling a visit.
Explanation of Benefits
Understanding your health insurance can be a nightmare. You can do a little research to learn about important terms, but that doesn’t mean you’ll understand your particular policy. If you have questions, or if you’re considering the possibility of switching to a different policy, you will definitely want to speak with someone in the human resources department.
Health insurance isn’t the only benefit you can ask HR about. If you are getting ready to have a baby, you will want to ask them about FMLA. You may want to increase your 401k contributions after receiving a raise, or you may want to talk to them about other benefits that the company offers that you may not know about. For example, you may discover that you can get a discounted rate on life insurance, or you may have access to an attorney during work hours.
Have you discovered that a coworker who does exactly the same job as you is getting paid more? That pay gap is a good reason to talk to HR. You may also wonder why you haven’t received a raise and want to make your case.
Make sure you get your ducks in a row before you visit HR, and don’t expect anything to change right away, if at all. It’s important to make your case for why your performance has warranted a raise, even though you haven’t received one, but in the case of a pay gap with another employee, their years at the company may affect their income, which means it won’t change.
Discomfort in the Workplace
It isn’t just bullying and harassment from coworkers that can make it difficult for you to focus. If you have a coworker who stops by your desk a little too often, they talk on the phone a little too loud, or they wear perfume that makes you sneeze, you can do something about it.
There are many ways to deal with an obnoxious coworker yourself, and you may want to try a few of these ideas, but if they come to nothing, or if you feel uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to go to HR for help.
Feeling a little stuck in your current position? Hoping to move up in the company? Stop into HR and talk about your goals and frustrations!
People in the human resources department know how costly employee turnover is, so you may be surprised to discover that they are willing to work with you to get the kind of training and development you’re looking for. They may be able to provide you with additional training, career development resources, and they may be able to tell you about reimbursement programs so you can go back to college and get your masters. You may even find yourself with a mentor in the HR department as you strive to reach your career goals!
You don’t want to find yourself talking to someone in the HR department every week, but they are there for a reason. If you’re experiencing any of the things on this list, it’s definitely worth your time to send them an email or give them a call.