I chose to devote my career to Human Resources due to a passion for business and an understanding of the value human capital brings to a company.
I fear however, that many professionals choose to pursue a career in HR to utilize their soft skills or the desire for a quick route to a corporate job.
Whenever HR professionals gather — either in person, or in a thought-based endeavor — there is always a debate about why organizations seem to not value Human Resources enough, and, how to go about fixing that.
How to avoid to HR status quo
Here’s what is wrong with Human Resources today and how I have avoided falling down into the status quo:
- I refuse to consider myself an administrative employee. My job is not planning the company picnic, creating wacky “Sweater Wednesday,” or — please don’t make me say it! — completing faxes for anybody other than myself. I understand the importance of special events and perks to keep employees satisfied, however, these tasks can easily be spearheaded by administrative staff members (including receptionists or office managers). HR needs to stay as far away from unnecessary administrative duties as possible.
- Keeping a continuous focus on ensuring decisions and actions are strategic and beneficial to the business as a whole. I prefer not to spend my time following specific directions in favor of giving me more highly defined direction, especially as it pertains to human capital. It’s important to prove to your bosses that you need very little guidance and to gain their trust in order to implement new processes and procedures that increase your value as an individual employee — as well as the value of the company. This is done by providing defined metrics on HR issues including, but not limited to, employee retention, turnover, satisfaction, etc.
- If there is a payroll issue, direct it to accounting! Accountants are very good with numbers while I am largely more confident in other areas. Make an attempt to direct the majority of compensation related issues to accounting; it will leave your schedule open for other duties. HR’s time is much better spent on bigger picture issues compared to the monotony of processing payroll. (Thank you accounting!)
- Align yourself with the right people. When I first started at my current company, I reported to a middle manager and helped with administrative recruiting duties. Today is my one-year anniversary and I now report directly to the CEO. I have consulted with the business owners on numerous strategic decisions — including where and how money is spent, leading the charge for employment decisions, and presenting detailed information to other decision-makers. My advice: make sure that you are aligned with the right people to make the largest impact possible.
Obvious answers – but how many get them wrong?
All of these remedies may seem obvious, perhaps even simple-minded, but take a moment to consider how many HR professionals get these few things wrong.
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A number of HR professionals, whether because of company history and expectations or a lack of business knowledge and confidence, have created and fostered the image HR has in the minds of so many today.
Over time, getting these few things wrong has allowed the value of Human Resources to greatly decrease, and, has provided the largely accepted concept of the HR department as being a necessary workplace evil.
It’s time to turn that around.