What does HR not have a hand in? They manage hiring and layoffs, contracts, health insurance plans, and retirement accounts, and they also have a hand in the day-to-day details of employee satisfaction and experience. As an employee, HR can be an invaluable resource. At the same time, certain information isn’t able to be shared – unless they have to. Know what things HR might not be disclosing to you, so you can know what types of questions to ask them, or find the answers through other channels.
1. Whether you’re underpaid
Unfortunately for your paycheck, it’s most often not in HR’s best interest to let you know how much you’re making relative to others. However, there are ways you can find out this information. Websites like Glassdoor can give you an idea of what you’re making compared to other people in your similar position and field. Additionally, don’t shy away from asking contacts at the company directly for a ballpark estimate of what they’re making – people are often more receptive than you might think.
[Related: Are You Paid Fairly? Know Your Worth]
2. What the stock options at your company really mean
There’s no denying that stock options can be complex to understand – but there’s also a plethora of online resources that can teach you what you need to know. In only very select cases, is it advisable to take a pay cut in favor of stock options. In most situations, stock options are just icing on the cake of your base salary. Read up on the kind of targeted questions you can ask HR to get the crucial answers.
[Related: How to Negotiate Your Salary]
3. Whether your health insurance is HMO or PPO
What is the difference between a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) and a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO), anyways? In a nutshell, HMOsgives you access to certain doctors and hospitals within its network. A network is made up of providers that have agreed to lower their rates for plan members and also meet quality standards. Meanwhile, PPOs offer a wider network of providers and more coverage, but are often offered at a higher price. It’s important to read the fine print, and ask the questions you need to in order to found out what your health insurance policy really means.
4. Personality does matter
When companies are going through layoffs, HR will remember who treated them nicely, and who was a pain to deal with. In addition, HR wants to keep people who will boost morale and provide a steady sense of security during transition periods.
5. They’ve stalked you on Facebook
Different estimates put the percentage of hiring managers that have used social media to pre-screen applicants between 40 and 90 percent. On top of that, HR can and will keep tabs on you via social media, especially if your employment is already on the rocks. If this is not desirable to you, check your privacy settings and make sure only the people you want to have access to your profile.
6. And that’s not all they’ve found online…
There are all sorts of things online that HR can gain access to. This might be as harmless as a personal blog, which you hopefully haven’t posted incriminating content on. But HR could go far as conducting background checks or a credit check. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, a little less than half of employers have conducted credit checks on prospective employees. However, they also found that 80% reported they have hired a candidate whose credit report indicated negative information, so there’s not too much reason to worry.
7. Their opinion of you is more important than you might think
Building a relationship with HR does matter. This could not only save you during a round of layoffs, but also boost your likelihood of success if you’re being considered for a promotion. Even the occasional email or stop in to chat can be beneficial for cultivating that relationship.
[Related: 4 Tips to Go From Contract to Full Time]
8. You’re allowed to send them compliments
Often times, HR is inundated with complaints and problems, from the petty to the serious. Do you like the new hire? Send an email to HR congratulating them on a job well done. Notice the benefits of a new program or policy they’ve implemented? Let them know. Giving compliments has benefits even beyond what you can see.
9. What your manager really thinks of you
Your manager can be in contact with HR about your performance and attitude, and HR has no obligation to tell you about it. If HR starts talking to you about putting you on a performance plan, this most likely a sign your manager isn’t so happy.