HR: Valuable or a Necessary Evil?

Featured on Growingpains under "Think"


“HR must give value or give notice”. – #DaveUlrich



Most, if not all operators, think HR is a non-value cost center that is a necessary evil to protect an organization from lawsuits. When I was an operational manager, I thought the HR department did not add value until I was forced into an HR generalist position. Five months into my generalist role, I learned that HR is only valuable if it is done right. How do you know if your executing HR efficiently? Ask your operators, employees, or access your own results.


Vanity metrics, like turnover/retention, safety (RCR), recruitment, or training completion, are specific metrics that show if you are effective. As an HR professional, if you are not consistently meeting your metrics, then you need to make a change.


Sales metrics can be used to validate how strategic HR processes have impacted business growth. Everything we do as HR professionals should support business growth and employee engagement. Consistent, business growth will happen through strategic employee growth.

In 2011, an article about the value of HR was published in the Harvard Business Review by Brian Hults. The article does a great job correlating efficient HR practices to business growth.


“By utilizing basic HR tools like business process redesign, organizational redesign, job redesign and competency model development, we were able to more effectively align our selling and support processes to the changing business realities of large-scale farming and construction. Within the first year of our effort net sales increased 27 percent while fixed costs were reduced by 40 percent. Not all fixed cost reductions were people. We eliminated a number of decades-old field offices built to accommodate railroads (which were no longer the dominant distribution method,) and we redeployed 33 percent of our sales personnel who were not able to execute the new selling process.”


 As you can see from the information above, HR needs to be strategic and that could include, supporting the restructuring of a business unit.


#HR Strategy + Execution = Growth 

My HR shift from reactive to proactive happened after I read, “HR From The Outside In” by Dave Ulrich, Jon Younger, Wayne Brockbank, and Mike Ulrich. I learned that successful HRs understand the business both internally and externally, connect with varying stakeholders (customers, employees, and leaders), and create proactive strategies to solve business challenges before they become emergencies. For example, if a company is adding sales territories to increase revenue, then the company will need to hire more talent. No Surprise! The challenge will be assimilating new talent to the company culture and ensuring the organization has strong leaders that can train and develop newly hired sales representatives. Proactively assessing leadership gaps and using succession planning and training to minimize loss of product positions or customer retention due to incompetent sales representatives is key.


It's Time to Change! Get Creative! 

1) How can the HR function increase profit instead of increasing cost?

2) How can the HR function leverage subscription boxes to consistently engage and energize employees?

IE: thefundept.com – Benefits in a box.

3) How can small to mid-size companies eliminate the HR function and replace it with Human Capital/People Growth Managers to focus on big picture strategy?

4) How can the HR function identify what employees are passionate about and develop them while growing the business? 


#HumanResources #Leadership #HR #future #changemanagement

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