As an HR professional, you’re often pulled in a million directions all at once. It can be hard to focus on things like culture and performance when you’re facing an inbox filled with time-consuming employee questions. Some employees need a lot of of hands-on guidance when it comes to HR issues, which can eat up valuable time out of your day. But you’ve got a lot to do outside of being the complaint department. It’s time to set your team up for success so they can efficiently resolve any issues and put time back in your day.
Here are five frustrating questions that may sound all too familiar—and tips to answer them thoroughly and efficiently:
1. “Can you send me that form?”
It can be hard to get anything done when your day is consumed by small repetitive tasks. If you had a nickel for every time someone asked you for some kind of form, you’d be rich, right? Sure you’re the keeper of lots of important information, but every time you have to send someone their direct deposit form or the employee handbook, you lose valuable minutes out of your day.
Instead, consider adding all regularly requested documents to a centralized resources folder, which you can do using your HRIS platform or a shared company drive. This will save you the time of pulling the same form over and over again, and you can instead direct employees to find whatever they need on their own.
2. “Help! I still haven’t enrolled in benefits and open enrollment ends tomorrow. What do I do?”
Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone had heeded all those email reminders, Slack messages, signs around the office, and verbal reminders at the company meeting? Of course it would, but no matter how simple you make it, employees may drag their feet when it comes to benefits enrollment. It seems like there will always be at least one person who comes to you at the last minute in a panic.
To make your life easier, consider setting aside an hour each day leading up to open enrollment to host “office hours” for employees to stop by and talk through any questions. You might also prepare a “cheat sheet” with all the must-know enrollment information. This document can include plan highlights, timelines, and enrollment instructions. Share this cheat sheet with employees who need it to save you both some valuable time.
3. “Can you help me fire this employee?”
Letting an employee go is never easy, but it can be particularly difficult when a manager waits to tell you about an issue until it’s too late. You want to be able to help managers resolve conflicts with their direct reports on an ongoing basis rather than when they’re already at the point of wanting to let someone go. However, oftentimes a situation boils over before the problem is even brought to your attention.
When a manager comes to you with an employee they believe should be terminated, there are several steps they can take before the employee is actually let go. First, the manager should provide any documentation that supports their reasoning. Once you have all of the information, you will most likely recommend that the manager put together a Performance Improvement Plan (or PIP) for the employee. Throughout this process, make sure that the manager is keeping you informed, but with the right tools, the manager should be able to take the lead.
If you and the manager ultimately decide that termination is the best option, it’s time for HR to be more heavily involved. Ensure that managers have access to resources that can make the transition as smooth as possible—such as a checklist of steps in the resources folder. To prevent any missteps, proactively offer training resources for managers on conflict resolution, coaching, and the process for terminating an employee.
4. “Susan is driving me insane lately. Can you do something about it?”
Unlike the previous question, at least employees in this scenario are coming to you before it’s too late. However, it can be hard for you to step into an employee conflict situation, especially if it seems less pressing than other HR tasks. Being a mediator between two parties may not be your top priority, but you can be a major tool in helping your employees reach a resolution.
Work with your employees on communication and provide training around conflict resolution. If the situation has escalated to you, it’s likely severe enough to require your intervention. Use your neutral position to help facilitate a productive conversation. Depending on the situation, you may also be able to ask the employees to work with their manager on reaching a resolution.
5. “Why is my paycheck wrong?”
Payroll is an important and delicate process. Whether it’s handled by your HR department, finance, or a third party, employee questions often arise around payday. Why is this amount slightly different than my last paycheck? Shouldn’t I have received my direct deposit by now? Regardless of how much of a hand you have in payroll, you will still likely receive a multitude of payroll questions and may not always be able to deflect these questions to another department.
This question may actually require some time and investigation on your part, so have a process in place for getting to the bottom of any payroll confusion. By knowing in advance where to look, who to ask, and what to do if something is truly wrong, you’ll save yourself from scrambling as you try to resolve the issue.
While it’s easy to spend an entire day responding to endless HR questions, being prepared can help you handle them quickly and thoroughly. As annoying as these questions might be, with the right tools in place your employees will soon realize that they have the exactly what they need to answer questions themselves.