Nurses help people all day long. Whether it’s a colleague who needs a hand or a patient who needs support, a nurse will evaluate what’s needed and find a way to make that happen.

But when nurses need something, they are frequently reluctant to ask for help. But a nurse’s human resources (HR) department can help with professional help and often has extensive assistance available. One of the most important tasks a nurse can complete professionally is to have a thorough awareness and understanding of what an HR department offers. a stethoscope over a face mask and with a graphic heartbeat image for HR week

Here are a few things to consider when you need help from HR:

Know Your Benefits
Benefits are much more than health insurance and vacation time. Benefits encompass everything from short- and long-term disability to wellness reimbursements to parental leave policies. The HR benefits manual or explanations your organization has on file are worth reading and understanding. There could be hidden discounts that you aren’t aware of or nuances to emergency time off that you should familiarize yourself with. Your benefits can help you pay for additional education and might have excellent professional development resources you weren’t aware of.

Understand What Happens in an Emergency
Nurses know that life can change in a second. So if something happens in your own life that can impact your job attendance or performance, you shouldn’t have to scramble to find out what you need to do. Does your company have a waiting policy before you take any kind of disability? What happens if you need time to recover from a health emergency? If a family member needs your care, does your organization have any time available for you to take off to help? You’ll want to know about bereavement time as well.

See also
In the Spotlight: Dr. Kahlil Demonbreun

Determine the Complaint Process
No one likes to have problems at work, and it’s a frequent reason that employees leave companies. Whether it’s a problem with a colleague, a supervisor, an annual review process, salary questions, or a scheduling issue, resolving it to your satisfaction is important. It might not always be possible, but understanding how your HR department deals with complaints is good information to have.  Is there an ombudsperson or a neutral mediator in your organization who can help?

Figure Out Retirement Options
Good retirement options are a key part of any benefits package, but it’s up to you to know what it includes and how it can best apply to your own situation. No matter how close to or far away from retirement you are, having a good understanding of what is offered will pay off in the long term. Does your company offer a retirement plan? Is there a retirement match and is there a minimum employee contribution required? What happens if you need help with making decisions? All of these are questions you can pose to HR to find out how any of the offered benefits can increase your own retirement savings. And if you are close to retirement age, it helps to understand the process for when you want to retire. If there are timelines involved or steps you will need to take as you ready for retirement, you will need to work with HR for a smooth transition.

HR departments offer so much information that employees might not be aware of. Take the time to find out what might be available for you.

See also
Inclusion, Part 2: Changing the Culture
Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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