If I Were Running A Company…HR’s Future

The department known as human resources has grown a lot in 20+ years from being administrative, to tactical, to strategic, to now being part of the business plan.

There have been a lot of articles lately of HR’s transition to being part of the business plan. The Harvard Business Review has several coming out of a factory, including this article from Ron Ashkenas, where he states some people bash HR, but shouldn’t be. This is the money quote about the transition,

So HR’s evolution… does not just concern changing HR. It’s also about helping managers take more accountability for people and culture, and eventually blurring the rigid distinction between “HR” and “management.”

I mostly agree with what Ron says in the article that HR is transitioning and it will take time for employees (and HR) to get use to it. Another aspect is in these past twenty years, HR was trying to define who they are and just recently, the profession discovers what their purpose is in business. However, some in management and executive teams still have a difference of opinion what HR’s role is in their company. This leads to confusion within the HR department, which in turn leads to frustration to managers and employees. In essence, companies need to define what HR plays in their business immediately.

This leads to today. There is another transition period going on where HR went from admin people, to tacticians, to business people, to business people who knows the industry and culture. Right now, the HR profession has a lot of business people and that’s great, but do they understand who are they working with and what industry they are in? Most assume HR will be same across industries, but the reality is HR are human and have personalities (in a business front). Would you want an uptight HR person fit in a creative environment or a free nature person in a machine-like setting? That depends.

In HR’s future, we will see businesses outsource the transactional aspects of HR like documentation and paperwork and HR departments will focus on the strategic side of business and become the all-around people some envision twenty years ago. As Ron Ashkenas mentioned, this is another transition time for most HR departments, so they’re getting used to the “new HR.” I think employees and managers will get HR until management will hire “their” HR people, meaning they understand business, as well as the industry, willing to go to a variety of meetings, and get the culture. Of course, everything will change when there is a new executive, then companies could start from scratch, but if ain’t broke, don’t fix it; just have a succession plan to keep it going until it is broke. Like in many business infrastructures these days, HR has become multi-faceted and although employees might be frustrating, it is also frustrating HR and it will take time to adapt and when they do, your company will be heading for big things.

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