- One-fifth of workers don't trust HR, and nearly a third (30%) actively avoid going to HR with problems, according to a new survey of more than 500 employees and 300 HR professionals conducted by Zenefits' Workest.
- Of the workers who avoid going to HR, 35% said it's because they don't trust HR to help, and 31% said they feared retaliation. Some of the reluctance may be due to a negative perception of HR or their employers overall; 23% of respondents said they had witnessed or experienced "poor HR, hurtful management, or discrimination." Thirty-eight percent of employee respondents felt that HR did not equally enforce company policies across all employees; 18% of that group said they believed managers received special treatment.
- Most of the HR respondents said that fewer than 30% of complaints they received in the last two years resulted in any disciplinary action. According to a Workest blog post about the survey, "Having less than a third of cases result in disciplinary action led employees to wonder — if they bring complaints forward, will anything even result?"
Some employees may have an inaccurate perception of what HR does, but the survey makes clear that workplace culture-building efforts still leave a lot to be desired — particularly when it comes to employees and HR working together to stop harassment.
According to a recent Emtrain study, most employees (83%) would not report harassment if they saw it. Additionally, similar to the findings in the Workest survey, 41% of workers were not confident that management would take a complaint seriously.
Nonetheless, culture is becoming a priority for some business leaders, many of which are hiring chief people officers both to help remedy toxic environments and also as a proactive strategic talent measure.
Investing in retention and culture makes sense for companies' bottom lines: In the past five years, the turnover cost of a toxic work environment was more than $223 billion for U.S. employers, according to Society for Human Resource Management research.
In order for culture efforts to bear fruit, they have to be more than mere lip service. Some believe business leaders and corporate directors are not making real efforts toward these goals. In a recent Accenture survey, business leaders reported financial performance and brand recognition as their most important priorities. Just over a third (34%) of the leaders surveyed ranked diversity as a top priority.