Couple of things. Agree that HR’s job is not to help employees — it’s to serve the company. So it’s not surprising that things so south from the employees POV in a big hurry.
However, the idea that an ombudsman adds another layer to the problem, not really a solution. The Omb would have the same issues — they work for the company, not the employees. My on the fly idea is to separate HE from the company altogether — make it a separate business in fact, where the employer contracts the whole thing to a separate firm. You’d still have CofI, but hopefully, it could be reduced by having the HR firm have multiple clients.
On the asshole tendencies of rockstars. These behaviors aren’t restricted to ‘rockstars’ only. :( Best way to deal with these people follows from a quote from Anthony Boudrain = “I don’t work with assholes.” There needs to be a policy that lets the company dump assholes — rockstar or not. The damage they do is usually more than the value they bring — it’s harder to quantify.
But it’s true, HR is not your friend. My solution is to work for myself — but the boss is a freaking slave driver! :)