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Putting HR Out of Business

On July 8, 2010, in HRExaminer, More2Know, by John Sumser

putting-hr-out-of-business-hrexaminerPutting HR Out of Business

What if the goal of the HR operation was to put itself out of business? Not as a way of moving on to a better type of HR but as an end in itself. Why shouldn’t HR be responsible for solving a set of problems and then closing the door?

Part of HR’s Public Relations problem stems from the idea that HR should be a permanent fixture. What if that just doesn’t make any sense at all? Who says that the problems HR addresses can’t be settled, wrapped up and dispensed with? Why shouldn’t having an HR function demonstrate a lack of maturity in an organization.

Plenty of organizations, committees, task forces and project teams are convened for a precise purpose, a specific agenda or a fixed time frame. The goal is to solve a problem and disband, to address the issue, design solutions and then go away. Why not HR.

In its current forms, HR rides its host organization like a parasite that extracts a nearly fixed percentage of the organization’s revenue. It’s like a sales tax or the mob’s weekly ‘insurance’ charge. While there is a lot of arm waving, HR finds it nearly impossible to show ROI for the money the company invests. In many cases, there is good reason to think that it’s actually double tax… you pay a percentage of revenue to get a function that slows things down.

A jaundiced eye notices that HR is a catch all for the cats and dogs that no other function wants. Providing the glue that holds employees to the organization is the best description that can be mustered. As the need for that glue evaporates, one wonders about the relevance of the department.

What would we miss if HR just went away?

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