HR and Confidentiality


I’m often asked, “Can I tell you something confidentially?”

My consistent answer is always no. I am not a priest or a lawyer. I don’t qualify as a journalist. I am not your spouse. Everything you say to me is on the record. I reserve the right to use discretion and/or tell everyone I know.

I don’t know how HR came to play the confidentiality game. Yes, we have legal non-disclosure agreements that govern the terms & conditions of what we can reveal to employees and contingent workers. Yes, there are financial guidelines and regulations that impact what we share with the general public and when we share it. But everyone knows that HR can’t keep a secret.

In fact, HR professionals and recruiters are some of the gossipiest people in the world.

Myself included.

And FYI the men in HR and recruiting are the worst. Already saddled with an inferiority complex, you can’t give them a nugget of information. They get drunk with power. Suddenly they are ‘in the know’ and have a seat at the table.

It’s hilarious…

…unless you are the poor sap who has shared something important with your local HR team. Then you aren’t laughing. It’s not like your HR people are intentionally mean. They won’t post your news on the company intranet site; however, they’re all talking about it.

If you want to believe that your colleagues are like your family, that’s fine. Think of Human Resources as your gossipy aunt who is on the phone all day long. Or maybe she’s on Facebook trying to chat. you. up. all day long. (God, I hate that messaging feature.)

HR cannot guarantee confidentiality. Ever. Discretion is the better part of valor. It’s also the better part of a healthy work environment. Keep your secrets to yourself.

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