Protect and Serve

Recently my husband, son and I toured a local police station (yes, a tour, not a court ordered reservation). Prior to the visit my husband and I asked our son if he knows what the police do. His response: “They catch bad people.” While that seems to be a normal reaction from a second-grader, I felt compelled to ensure he knows there is much more to it than that, (and I didn’t want him to be afraid once we arrived at the police station.) My husband and I proceeded to explain all the things police officers do to help people.

We listed the amazing work police officers do, and answered our son’s questions, and while doing so, it made me wonder, “With all the life saving and community service done by law enforcement agents, how did they get such a bad rap?” Followed closely by, “Wait a minute! Why is HR referred to as the ‘corporate police’?!”

This is most likely the case because those who are not a police officer or in HR, don’t know or understand the work. For more insight into what HR does, see this article on what HR people wish non-HR people knew about our work, here. For a look at how police and HR work compare, keep reading below.

Law & Order

  • Just as there are federal, state and local laws to ensure the safety and well-being of the public, there are employment laws at all levels so employees can be free from danger in the workplace.
  • Police investigate crimes and breaches of the law and HR reps investigate employee concerns and violations of employment laws. 

To Protect and Serve

  • Police officers direct traffic, speak at schools and community events, protect and save lives, write reports & maintain records, respond to calls, and some choose to work in special units like harbor patrol, special weapons and tactics (SWAT) or emergency response
  • Human Resource Reps coach managers, facilitate training sessions, protect company assets, write reports & maintain records, respond to inquiries and some choose to specialize in functions like comp and benefits, recruiting or labor relations
  • Like law enforcement protects and serves individuals and the public, HR protects and serves employees and their companies.

As you can see, police officers are not always in high speed chases, busting in doors, pulling guns, and arresting people who are in the wrong place at the wrong time. HR pros are not on a mission to prevent others from getting work done, or strolling through the office looking for employees breaking corporation rules.

So, the next time someone looks at you or one of your HR colleagues and says, “Hey, you work in HR? You’re the corporate police!” You can tell them they are absolutely right.

Alicia McDougal


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