The growing divide in HR

by 27 May 2008

In our most recent issue of Human Resourcesmagazine, the front page news story, “Future of HR still not certain” noted that the future of the HR function will continue to rely increasingly upon its ability to establish a high level of strategic business presence.

Furthermore, CEOs may be playing a far more active role in human capital management than previously, as a growing number of business leaders recognise the importance of people to sustainable business success.

Human Resources magazine recently convened its second editorial board meeting for the year, and the above topic was an engaging point of discussion. There does seem to be a growing divide between those HR professionals who are more strategic in their thinking, approach and influence, and those HR professionals who are content to stay focused on the transactional, personnel side of HR.

Both are legitimate and are very much needed for HR to be successful, but it’s very hard (if not downrightimpossible) to be all things to all people in the future of HR.

Business does need strategically minded HR folk. If HR understands the business from a business point of view, HR is naturally in a much stronger position to engage with it. The general thrust of the editorial board conversation was that there still seems to be a reluctance on the part of some HR professionals to step up to thisplate.

HR outsourcing is already a huge business, and as companies continue to strip out costs and look for more efficiencies, it is those HR professionals who don’t get the business who are more likely to find themselves marginalised or eventually out of work as more transactional HR processes are outsourced.

It is an exciting time to be in HR. Companies need savvy, switched-on business-focused HR professionals and this trend is only set to continue. As Lao Tzu said, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. For some HR practitioners, that step could be the difference between a bright future and extinction.