Many times when there is a workplace problem, we are directed to the Human Resources Department. I used to do a workplace Q&A column for a major newspaper, and “go to HR” was often my first piece of advice. Yet, all too often, employees would tell me that going to HR made things worse. I’ve seen it myself, and written about it – HR departments that forget their purpose and may actually harm, rather than help, their employees.

Here are 5 warning signs that your HR department is failing.

1.     They Have an “Us vs. Them” Mentality. It is clear that human resources professionals often have to be the bad guy – enforcing workplace policies, reprimanding employees, and the like. It’s an unpleasant, but necessary, part of the HR job. All too often, however, HR departments will develop an adversarial relationship with employees, seeing their jobs as primarily one of “policing” employees’ bad behaviors. Over-focusing on the negatives, and ignoring the positive elements of HR work (e.g., providing support, encouraging a positive organizational climate, etc.) leads to a dangerous “us vs. them” mentality that can be destructive.