An HR professional for nearly 17 years, I’ve been as critical of the function as anyone. And the reason is—this job is teeming with potential that far too often goes untapped.
And while I have fantasies that a push could come from the bottom up, as has been noted, until CEOs/COOs/CFOs (or, in other words, those who tend to manage the HR function) get on board with the importance of it, not a whole lot will change.
So, my mission today is to try and convince those powers that be that they really, REALLY need HR.
Once upon a time…
Once upon a time, a bright, highly motivated young man started a brand new job at a neat little organization with a reputation for doing all kinds of cool things. The young man was excited about this opportunity and looking forward to making his mark on the company.
In fact, the young man was so excited and so positive about his future with the company that he wouldn’t allow himself to become discouraged by a few, well … irritations.
First he learned that the job duties weren’t exactly as described by his new boss during the job interview. The discrepancy wasn’t a huge deal, so he decided not to dwell on it.
But then he learned that the company’s “great benefits” weren’t really that great. (Seems his boss didn’t understand benefits and didn’t care about learning either, so she’d kind of told the young man some stuff that wasn’t exactly true and then skated over the rest.) A 401k with no match that he wouldn’t be eligible to join for another year? Three plus months before medical and dental would kick in? No health savings account? Hmmm …
But that wasn’t the worst.
Oh no. Over the next few weeks, this young man would come to learn that his boss was a manipulative, lying, micromanaging she-devil, and there was literally no one to whom this poor soul could turn to for relief because …. wait for it … there was no qualified HR professional on or near the premises to speak of.
So, this promising young man said to himself, “Forget this” and began looking for a new job shortly after landing his current one. And like I said, he was pretty bright, so within a few months he found one.
Meanwhile, the company that had invested months in training was left with not much besides some outdated business cards, a whole lot of unfinished work, and one more departing employee who wasn’t in any frame of mind to say anything nice about his former employer to anyone who might happen to ask.
All because the company wouldn’t invest in a qualified HR professional who does the things qualified HR professionals do—
- Develop competitive compensation and benefits programs that both attract and retain talent;
- Accurately communicate the worth of said benefits;
- Assist in the creation of job descriptions that reflect the reality of a position’s function and purpose;
- Ably resolve workplace conflict;
…. and so on.
And yes, perhaps this company’s lack of regard for HR was merely symptomatic of some larger issues, and if any respectable HR professional were to work there she’d be driven bonkers.
Still, the point stands:
Companies need certain jobs performed. And, at a minimum, employees need someone to answer benefit questions right the first time, for crying out loud.
So whatever your idea of HR, never consider for even a second that you don’t actually need HR, because your employees most definitely need HR, and you need your employees.
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