Flip to any HR site, blog, or article and you are likely to see someone discussing the role HR should play in today’s workplace. The discussion of HR’s role in the organization has been the talk for over a decade with HR department reviews ranging from driving the business forward to destructive, compliance police.
In the years that I have worked in human resources, I have had the opportunity to experience HR from many of the facets authors write about the profession and the emotion that comes along when my profession is being ripped apart by someone is mixed. In one regard, I can understand what the author wrote because I live it each and every single day. However on the other hand, it infuriates me because I know the profession is not always like this. Especially when there are intelligent, passionate people out there making a difference with the profession – and I like to think I am one of those people.
Recounting on my time in human resources, there are several partnerships to the business I have witnessed to include: compliance, strategic/business, issue resolver, and people engager.
Working in human resources one is sure to know that compliance is going to be incorporated at some point. However, some organizations have geared the HR function to solely be focused on compliance – moving to a means of utilizing HR staff to conduct HR audits and serve as compliance police if I-9s are not completed correctly, payroll files are off, or postings are missing.
It is important to know that compliance is needed and should be followed to assist the organization from floating into unnecessary risk, but it should not be what HR is 100% known for.
Anytime HR can serve in a strategic/business partner perspective is great. In fact, more and more organizations are seeking out this type of partnership with HR staff; unfortunately, this skill set is one not so strong by many HR professionals. The reasons can range from lack of experience to professionals not wanting to get involved with the business.
I will be one to tell you that business acumen is a crucial skill for any HR professional to be actively sought after for guidance/support. Knowing how HR and HR initiatives can be incorporated into the business and drive the business forward is a must. Yet, don’t let the bottom line be a detractor to the human capital HR should work to engage, develop, coach, and lead. Additionally, focusing just on the bottom line can result in missing the small details which can have a big financial impact on the organization if not managed.
Many times in my career, I have had managers come to me or send employees my way to resolve an issue. Funny thing is, most of the time the manager could have resolved the issue, but they in turn wanted to pass the buck to the typical “issue resolver” in the organization.
All employees within the organization should be empowered to assist with resolving problems or issues. Depending on the severity is when HR may need to step in.
Engagement of employees can make or break an organization, but when did HR become the sole owner of engaging people? The answer, when HR allows it too. Again, just like with resolving issues, everyone should own the role of engaging employees in an organization.
Wrap it All Up: Balanced Partnership
HR serving in a singular capacity – compliance, strategic/business partner, issue resolver, people engager, etc. – does not develop professionals and it doesn’t drive the true impact HR can make on an organization.
Instead, from my experience in the profession, HR should encompass all these facets forming a balanced partnership to impact the bottom-line for the positive.
Serving in a business partner capacity works to align the HR agenda with the organizational goals to drive business, engage employees, manage compliance, and resolve issues timely so as to create a competitive, sustainable, workplace.
So if you find yourself in a situation where your HR function is simply a compliance officer or issue resolver, stretch yourself to increase your business acumen, partner with business leaders to analyze needs, and create, lead, and implement initiatives that push you, the business, and its employees.
Chris Ponder II is a human resources professional who has harnessed his human resources knowledge and experience across the casino, retail, and service industries, where he has challenged people to think outside of the traditional “thought box” and strive for something unique by pushing thoughts and actions to a different scale – the extreme.
Stifled by just limiting this extreme thinking and passion to the four corners of the office, Chris created XtremeHR. However, he quickly began to discover the opportunity of a group of people sharing their passion was even better, which lead to the creation of Performance I Create.
Knowing the value social media can bring, he continues to be an advocate for trench HR professionals to take a leap with social media and utilize its capabilities to grow both professionally and personally. Follow him on Twitter at @ChrisPonder.