HR is an organizational function that is far too often in the crosshairs of complaints and challenges from sources far and wide. As Peter Cappelli says in his Harvard Business Review article “Why We Love to Hate HR… and What HR Can Do About It,” no other group in organizational life, not even finance, bosses us around as systematically as HR does.
Often viewed as the cop, or “keeper of the rules,” HR gets a bad rap in many organizations. Those in the profession frequently lament their inability to “get a seat at the table,” yet are increasingly recognizing the need and importance of being strategic. Taking on a more strategic role requires HR professionals to get out from behind their desks, take a broader view of the organization and find ways of demonstrably tying their activities to real, bottom-line impacts. Yes, this requires a level of familiarity and comfort with the language of finance. It also requires an understanding of their organizations’ strategic plans, and the ability to ensure that the HR function is supporting those plans.
HR is well positioned to provide exceptional value to organizations—if only the function is allowed to take on the strategic role it deserves. Beyond pushing papers and monitoring rule infractions, HR can have a significant impact on the organizations it serves in a variety of ways.
Here are “Five Reasons We Love to Love HR”:
1. Finding Talent
HR ensures that the organization is staffed with skilled individuals required to perform the work of today—and the work of the future. Strategic HR practitioners know that recruiting isn’t just about “filling chairs.” They’re engaged with organizational leaders in identifying future needs, and gaps, and taking steps to recruit talent to meet those needs. Beyond recruitment, strategic HR professionals ensure that current staff receive the ongoing training and support they need to serve in their current roles—and to be prepared to move into new roles. HR makes certain that we get the work done.
2. Workplace Safety
HR keeps the company—and its employees safe. The HR compliance role is an important and far-reaching one. From ensuring compliance with employment law practices to keeping employees safe from harm related to internal and external risks, HR’s focus on workplace safety and employee health serves not only to meet OSHA requirements, but also to make the workplace a great place to be. HR protects us from harm.
3. Company Culture
HR is the steward of company culture. Companies don’t become great places to work by chance. It takes a village to create a corporate environment where employees are nurtured and supported by managers and colleagues, where they can learn and grow and where they feel included and respected. Culture stems from the top, but it takes HR’s stewardship to make certain the culture is supported through the words and actions of senior leaders, middle management and supervisors.
4. Coaching and Guiding Managers
HR helps us focus on the soft skills, coaching and guiding managers to ensure that they can be the best they can be and that, by default, they are in turn nurturing and supporting their employees. Staff bring specific competencies to their jobs to help them do the work of the company. Those competencies need to be supported by good communication skills, the ability to collaborate with others and the ability to effectively give and receive feedback. HR helps us with that.
5. Employee Advocacy
HR is a staunch employee advocate. From ensuring that wages and benefits are competitive and meet employee needs, to protecting employees from discrimination and harassment, HR stands behind its staff, ensuring a workplace that is supportive and risk-free. And when it’s not, HR is there to serve as an impartial third party, working to get at the facts and resolve issues that can make the workplace a not so great place to be.
That’s our top five. We could add to the list. Maybe you can too. We’d love to hear your thoughts on why HR deserves more love!