If you've ever been an Human Resources practitioner, your office has probably been referred to as the "Principals Office", the dreaded place where wayward students go to receive their punishment. Often, this is because employees have associated this office and the HR position as with the place they go and the person they see to discuss disciplinary action. As leaders in your organization, it is important recognize that this practice can have detrimental effects on the effectiveness of your HR team.
Depending on the culture/process within your organization, you have likely heard something along the lines of "if you have any concerns, please bring them up with HR" and left it at that. Now put yourself in the shoes of the employee who has something to say, wants to report it, but fears that going to the HR department out of fear of being "on the radar" of HR. This can lead to under reporting and potential productivity issues if problems go unchecked.
HR should be used as a tool in the conversation with employees to establish your expectations, whether it be disciplinary in nature or not. You may want to include your HR rep if you are giving positive feedback, providing a coaching session with that employee, or reviewing their career development plan. Not only does this help keep the HR team informed of your conversations, it helps to reinforce that HR is their to support the employee.
As HR providers, we must also remember to be frequently checking in with employees and looking for these positive moments to provide our support and not necessarily waiting for our invite.