I read a rather contentious piece on Timesonline which not only alleges the demise of the HR department, but asserts that we should be happy about it.

HR teams are “the ‘people people’ who ensure that companies adhere to minimum wage requirements, rules relating to diversity, gender, sexual orientation and so on and generally try to prevent businesses being sued to death”, claims The Times. The amount of money spent on the HR function “seems to far outstrip their contribution to the world”, and the columnist has “never really understood the point of human resources departments”.

An interesting comment from a person who openly admits that he himself has never dealt with an HR department, which makes me wonder whether he is qualified to comment on this arena. But taking this argument at face value, I must disagree.

The nature of the Human Resources role has seen a steep evolution over time from a largely administrative purpose to a position which is core to a company’s failure or success. HR departments should be a key driver of employee engagement through a carefully crafted mix of communication, learning and development, benefits and reward and performance management.

Research shows that employees are far more actively engaged when they are frequently communicated with, a principle duty of the HR department. Mercer found in 2006 that when communications are viewed as excellent within a company, 74 per cent of employees are committed to their organization versus 34 per cent of employees when communications are viewed as poor.

Moreover, Gallup cites that the cost of disengagement to the economy in 2008 was between £59.4bn and £64.7bn.

The crux of the matter is that when HR gets it right, their role has true value and function through commercial thinking and proactive communications initiatives. Perhaps it’s more a case of businesses not wholly embracing the benefits and potential of human resources rather than the lack of its purpose as The Times suggests. It is my opinion that if HR departments are being called upon to prove their worth, now more than ever is the time to push the importance of measurement.

It is crucial for HR professionals – and HR suppliers such as ourselves – to provide statistics which prove that the role of human resources provides a meaningful function that generates a greater return on human capital.

Read The Times’ take on HR departments here: http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/columnists/article6860903.ece

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