Post Academic

What to Do When HR Fails You

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on February 25, 2011
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Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionI’ve often said that a big benefit of the Hamster World is the ability to turn to HR when you encounter assholes in the workplace. And I will say this: Some HR reps are sloppy, but most of the people I’ve worked with genuinely want to help. I can think of one person who should probably earn a Lifetime Achievement Award in HR.

If that isn’t the case and you have an issue, what do you do? Well, I hate to say this, but you might need to lawyer up. Very few people are excited about hiring a lawyer. It’s expensive, and they have a bad rap from all those late-night ads that scare people with nightmare scenarios like getting hit by a rampaging Oscar Meyer Wiener Truck or catching salmonella from tainted licorice. Whatever. You name it, and there’s a lawyer who can handle it.

But using the words “I am CC-ing my lawyer” will put the fear of a Higher Power in others. One of my neighbors had a problem because the landlord wouldn’t repair a water leak that destroyed some of his books, and he was lucky enough to have a sister-in-law as a lawyer. He wrote a nastygram to the landlord, mentioned that he had consulted a lawyer, and threw in a CC at the bottom of the nastygram for good measure. Within a day, my neighbor received a visit from some efficient handymen, plus money for his books.

I’m not a lawyer. I know a few lawyers. Lawyers can be scary, but they can also be your best friend if you are serious about stopping a problem. Unlike what you may think from seeing “Judge Judy,” no one wants to be dragged into court, and no one wants to pay a settlement.

Caricature of a lawyer from Vanity Fair, 1873, Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

The Hamster World: Be Your Own Admin

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on July 12, 2010
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Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox Extension… unless you’re really important.

The role of an admin in the Hamster World is not to keep you organized. That luxury exists solely for the big boss. In many offices, it doesn’t exist at all. (I’ve had at least two jobs where there was no receptionist, and whoever was closest to the door or phone had to handle the situation. Woe to the person sitting closest to the door.)

The notion of everyone having a secretary, a la Mad Men, cracks me up. In the Hamster World, your administrator is named Microsoft Outlook, not Joan Holloway. Though you can probably create a curvaceous avatar to accompany your meeting reminders if you are so inclined.

People similar to the ones Arnold described do indeed exist. Here are the Hamster World counterparts to the Grad World Admins:

The Grad Administrator: That’s HR, master of “arcane rules.” You need these people because they make sure you have health insurance. Sometimes you need to vet your HR person and nag them to do important things. I worked with one person in HR who flat-out forgot to send in my health insurance form. But I’ve also worked with others who were amazing and genuinely concerned about the well-being of employees. Mileage may vary. Be nice to them, and don’t scream at them. Sometimes they are just the messenger when the bigwigs in the company decide to change health insurance or pet insurance or lay you off or whatever.

More after the jump! Image of man at work by Eugen Nosko from Deutsche Fotothek, on Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.