The obvious reality is that HR has never been your friend

Can you remember when HR was called the Personnel Department and typically reported to the Head of Accounting? Back then, people were seen as a number or a cost in the company’s income statement.

It’s probably only 10 to 15 years ago that we in Thailand became familiar with the words HRD and OD. And it was also about that time where universities in Thailand started to offer HR and organizational development in their HR curriculum. Since then we have seen HR Business Partner being introduced in bigger organizations or more recent HR Analyst. What’s next?

The article from TechCrunch (scroll down, click the link) is giving a qualified view on why HR must continue to evolve. So to all my friends in the HR community, this is not the time to put your heads in the sand like the ostrich. When people say someone has their head buried in the sand, they are claiming that the person is ignoring obvious facts or refusing to accept advice, hoping that simply denying the existence of a problem will make it go away.

Over the past 15 years, I have interviewed my share of HR professionals. To my dismay, most do not know the most basics in the labour law, most do not attend regular training, most do not subscribe to free email newsletters on HR issues, most do not network in the business community or with their peers, and most refuse to meet with HR consultants and recruitment professionals to learn what is happening in their own functional area of HR.

The big question is how many HR professionals will fall under the category Death and how many under Rebirth? Enjoy this excellent input on HR’s future.

The Death and Rebirth of HR
As the number of freelancers and gig economy workers skyrocket, the very design of HR today seems entirely out-of-sync with the changes that are happening in the labor markets. Tens of millions of workers are employed by small employers with no HR department.

HR may be increasingly viewed with distrust as a “corrupt” agent of the corporation, but that view also undermines what is a very necessary function for a healthy workplace: a group of people who can facilitate the politics that will inevitably crop up in even the best corporate cultures.

There clearly is a need for more network-based HR resources that can be responsive to worker concerns in real-time. The two-faced HR role of the past no longer matches the needs of workers today. Employees realize this, and now, it is time that HR departments accept that reality as well.

The obvious reality is that HR has never been “your friend.” Rather, it is an important component of a company’s legal strategy to document and mitigate any potential lawsuits that might arise from its employees, contractors, or anyone else who may interact with the firm. Occasionally, that mission might align with friendliness: HR may defuse a fight between two colleagues both to prevent legal troubles as well as to make the workplace more productive.

Employees, who might have been cautious at interacting with HR before, are now no longer going to HR at all, and are seeking alternative options for advice. Today, there is a growing crop of new apps and services to get peer information, allowing employees to protect themselves like never before.

via HR has lost the trust of employees. Here is who has it now | TechCrunch

4 thoughts on “The obvious reality is that HR has never been your friend

  1. Thank you Sergi for sharing some thoughts on this important issue. I can confirm that Talent Acquisition
    (TA) departments are now a typical function of large companies. Often, staff in TA come from recruitment firms, and perhaps to make their point to their new employer, go to the extreme to show off they can do without third party recruitment firms. With mixed results – but that’s another story.

  2. Great Article Tom! I think that it’s a general problem in HR. There are some companies, countries or business cultures that had empower a better candidate approach, and people orientation.

    I guess that at the end of the day operations or financial are the strong departments and HR also failed about speaking the same language and learn how to show the added value that people provide to the company.

    Checking on thai job postings you still see this strong C&B orientation more than the talent development, but I had the feeling that things start to change!

  3. Thanks Soumya for your thoughts. HR should be partners and provide service to the organization. I often see that it works the other way around, ie HR is making decisions that rightly should be taken by the hiring manager or even the management board.

  4. Great read Tom. Unfortunately HR at times has been used by organisations to serve its own ulterior motive, however, when an organisation has a mature culture, HR can be used to create value like no other department can. My personal observation has been that HR in the latter organisations have been an empowered lot who work as partners with and mentors to the business, they also grow their employees and provide them with the right guidance. EVP, Employer Branding etc are usually very high in such organisations and they are usually talent magnets. It takes a strong HR to grow a business- Guide or Maid it is a choice and it is high time HR professionals world over make the right choice and gain respect.

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