Thank you, Bernard Marr! Your recent article about the fundamental uselessness of HR departments is exactly the kind of myopic polemic that makes my own articles more or less write themselves. I was stressing out today about what to write, and you just dropped the whole thing in my lap. Thanks again!
In case you’re curious, Bernard doesn’t like the name ‘human resources’ because it sends out the wrong message. To be totally fair, I can see his point; the word ‘resources’ is a little cold. But he then goes on to say “If departments can’t see that this is sending out the wrong messages, then they don’t deserve to be there anyway.” I would love, love, love to hear him run the same argument with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. I think we can all agree that their name is a bit outdated – and because of that, I can only assume that Bernard believes the organization itself should cease to exist. Good luck explaining that one, Bernie!
But my favorite part is the following, quoted directly: “…what really matters is whether HR delivers value. I have recently seen a number of companies that shut their HR departments down completely; outsourced the function or reduced it to a minimum. The reason they have done it, and not suffered any significant throw-back, is because HR wasn’t delivering any real value.”
I love this! Somewhere, some unnamed company eliminated its HR department; that company is still in business; therefore, its HR department was useless. By that logic, everything any business does that doesn’t immediately destroy the business is an unessential activity. Theoretically I could take all the chairs out of my building, and if people still managed to work while squatting on their desks or laying in the hallways, then chairs are obviously an unimportant trifle. To extend the analogy, I’ve personally spent money on advertisements that didn’t generate me any new business, which I suppose means that advertising doesn’t work.
To expect your HR department to add value is fine. To ask your HR professionals to think strategically is normal. But to suggest that HR departments are antiquated because some companies don’t have one is akin to suggesting that sunscreen is useless because some people choose not to use it and haven’t gotten cancer.
You didn’t think this all the way through, Bernie. But you definitely made this easy for me to write – and for that, I thank you.