The Internet has no doubt given people the ability to air their gripes on just about anything they want. Some choose to do this anonymously, while others choose to attach their name to said gripes. Gripers can range from unsatisfied customers to just people airing their issues about a musical artist they’re currently not feeling. But over the last couple of weeks, I’ve read some gripes that will eventually come back to haunt some people.
Nowadays, millennials are the largest group of people entering the workforce—whether they’re lucky enough to secure their dream job or one of those in the majority who are in the “paying their dues” phase of life and are at the bottom of the job totem pole. But whether one is answering phones as a customer-service rep or repping a big-name brand on the tech side, there’s one common denominator in every job: the human resources department.
Recently, there have been a rash of posts written on Medium by millennials complaining about their jobs. The most infamous one came from a Yelp employee who eventually got fired after writing an open letter to the CEO. Although I transitioned into a writing career almost four years ago, the former H.R. person in me asked, “WTF is Talia Jane thinking?” Apparently she wasn’t thinking at all.
Earlier this month, a piece written by a former SquareSpace employee went viral. The long-winded post made several accusations of discrimination, which indeed seemed valid, but they were overshadowed by the apparent lack of professionalism the employee displayed. One simple word of advice: Don’t s—t where you eat. Keep your work relationships out of the bedroom. Don’t hit your co-workers. Come on, use some common sense.
Some of my friends have cited both of these stories as examples of the entitlement that millennials feel nowadays, and that may have some truth to it. But I see it more an example of how people don’t seem to understand protocol and the purpose of an H.R. department.
When you have issues with your supervisor or complaints about the work you’re doing, the first thing you don’t do is to hop on social media or a blogging site to put your employer on blast. And you definitely don’t do it using your real name. First you should make a simple visit to your H.R. department.
I definitely understand the fact that nowadays, a lot of companies’ H.R. departments aren’t staffed with people with years of experience under their belts to deal with complex issues. The reason for that is simple: Hiring a millennial, or someone with little or no experience, means being able to pay that person less money. And yes, technically, the H.R. department is there on the company’s behalf and has the company’s best interests in mind, but it’s also there to serve as a conduit between the employee and higher-ups.
If going to your H.R. department isn’t solving anything, the next step is to try to find someone in your legal department and explain the situation to him or her. Maybe, just maybe, that person will contact H.R. on your behalf. Also, documentation is key. Having co-workers on your side in the same predicament helps also. There’s power in numbers.
If your issue involves issues with discrimination, you need to contact your local Equal Employment Opportunity Commission office. File a complaint and file it fast. As with most government agencies, it’s slow as molasses, so you’ll either have to be patient and wait out a response to your complaint, or hit the pavement and start looking for a new job or an attorney.
If, by chance, you’ve already been fired from your job and you’re now about to fire up a post putting your former employer on blast, you may want to think about the bread crumbs you’re leaving online. Google is not your friend if you plan to use your real name. I’m quite certain most recruiters and hiring managers nowadays do a thorough search online before hiring people. Why wouldn’t they? Say a prospective employer is searching before hiring, and what do they find? Your open letter to your employer. Now, that prospective employer may be the type to understand what you were going through and sympathize, or it may be the type to hit “delete” on your résumé and move on to the next candidate.
Unemployment isn’t fun. Believe me, I was there once. I wish companies would pay and treat their employees better. I wish more companies believed in diversity. I wish people didn’t have to get s—t on because of racist crap at work. But I also wish companies employed better H.R. staff and employees made use of them before logging onto a blog to put their CEOs on blast.
H.R. is there to help you. The EEOC is there to help you when H.R. doesn’t. Sites like Medium don’t care if you ever work again; you’ve just given them a ton of page views.