10 Years Later: Does Everyone Still Hate HR?

We recently eclipsed the 10-year anniversary of Fast Company magazine declaring to the world that HR sucks. In their article, published in 2005 titled, “Why Everyone Hates HR,” Fast Company outlined several harsh—yet potentially true—points about why the HR industry just doesn’t work. We’ve been talking for the last 10 years about how all these things are changing, from the fact that HR professionals are starting to think strategically, to how we truly do have a seat at the table now. But has anything really changed in the last 10 years? Are we still the same department that everyone hates, or have we moved into a new realm of being understood and people seeing our value?

What’s Changed?

Regardless of anyone’s opinion of HR, there’s no denying that some things have in fact changed. The major changes we’ve seen in the tactics of HR teams and professionals come down to three areas: how we recruit candidates, what we’re doing to retain employees, and the use of data in our decision making.


If you think back to recruiting 10 years ago, your mind may wander to a time when social media was limited in its options and adoption. Myspace was king and only the most out-of-the-box thinkers were using any kind of online tools, other than job boards, to recruit employees. The landscape of recruiting is entirely different in 2015, with more options than most of us could ever use simultaneously and more ways to source the best talent than we’ve ever had access to. The majority of companies utilize social in recruiting, which, in theory, would mean that our industry is keeping up with the times. However, there’s still a social disconnect occurring. For instance, 93 percent of companies are using LinkedIn to recruit while only 36 percent of job seekers are active on LinkedIn. While we’ve come a long way in what we’re capable of, I think there’s still a question of whether we’re focusing on efficiency or strategy.


When it comes to retaining employees, as a whole the offerings we provide employees with are much more exciting and generous than they were 10 years ago because companies are frantically working to recruit in a candidates’ job market. However, PayScale’s 2015 Compensation Best Practices Report found that more than half of the companies surveyed are worried about keeping employees but only 7 percent are planning to increase wages as part of their retention strategy. Retention strategy has to follow what we say our priorities are. Essentially, it’s a question of whether or not HR is putting their money where their mouth is.

Data in decision-making

Ten years ago we simply weren’t talking about using data in HR decision-making. The biggest and best HR units were beginning to utilize it for planning and retention, but it wasn’t widely utilized by any stretch of the imagination. Now, 10 years later, it most certainly is. In my opinion, data was not only a game changer for HR but also is one of the most powerful tools we have for making decisions, developing strategy and helping others understand our value. In a recent interview with the Economist, I shared that data is the future of HR. It is what will replace the question mark that many see HR as. We’ve come a long way in the last decade, but we still have a long way to go to fully utilize this resource.

Understanding the misunderstood

Everyone hates HR because they don’t understand what exactly what HR does. We’re more than hiring and firing. We’re in the business of organizational transformations, but  get a bad rap because we are often delivering the messages that no one wants to hear. Employees tend to see us as the barrier to change because we are looking at the bigger organizational picture and evaluating risk from dangers they don’t see, like EEOC charges, unannounced visits from the Department of Labor, employee data breaches or a PR scandal nightmare of Amazonian levels.

As an industry, we’re slowly but surely transforming how we work and how we’re perceived in our organizations and in the business world. It’s a slow process but we are getting closer we get to becoming what we want to be.

What do you think has changed the most about HR in the last 10 years? Tell us in the comments section below.


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