HR is a function. Well, hardly one. It’s a supermarket that has in its shelves a variety of brands, from compensation and benefits to employee engagement, organizational development, learning and development, recruitment, retention, talent management, diversity and inclusion, culture, you name it. Hardly one. So when I say that HR needs an identity, an upgrade, I mean finding the spaces and their modern, state of the art, meaning.
Perhaps HR needs to take a look at its hard choices. In a company of some size, there is a strong case for splitting the supermarket into a series of boutiques. I know, I know, the uniformity of the supermarket and the commodity of their corridors and trolleys is attractive. Having a Super Chief of HR is handy. But management comfort is not the best criteria to decide what is right. Sorry,
HR has a hard time sometimes. Most times undeserved. Some times, self inflicted. It has not caught up with the speed of change. Wow! That is a sweeping generalization. Apologies. OK, let me paraphrase, it has not pushed the envelope too much. Oh, you know cases of the opposite? Me too. But I am talking generics. To prove this, look at the industry global conferences on the matter; look at the literature of HR trends. It’s still a bit of déjà vu. It’s still changing the oil of the car, discussing the different types of oil, finding oil vendors, not questioning the need for a car, or getting a Ferrari.
People have a view of HR because it is formed from what they see. And they see:
A transactional system (skills, bodies, recruit, boxes)
A Big Help Desk/Fire Brigade Station. People stuff? Help!
Performance Management Inquisition
Strategic human capital? Mmm, not much, but of course, exceptions, yes.
The reality is that it has never been a better time to ‘be in HR’ whether the function or the functionality. But we need to take a hard look at the old toolkits and question if they are going to give us the right human capital framework for the future.
All functions and functionalities need to question their existence and their fitness for the future-running-now. It is my view that Communications (internal, corporate) for example has been much more creative in upgrading itself, perhaps with the digital toys left by Techno Father Christmas. I don’t see HR running the marathon of the company of the future.
The running is going to need boldness, determination, self-belief and the courage to accept high doses of critical thinking to move forward. But, if anything, the obsessive, blind, uncritical anchoring to meaningless Employee Engagement measurements ( and associated rituals) is not a good sign of that boldness and courage.
But, we will see…