Why Being an HR Apologist is Just No Damn Good

We’ve all seen the articles.  You know the ones I mean.

Remember that article by Keith H. Hammonds in Fast Company that started the “whole why we hate HR” theme?  We were sorry for not being the “sharpest tacks in the box.”  We were also sorry for being a “low risk parking lot.”  Yeah, he really wrote that.

A few years later, Fast Company co-founder Bill Taylor penned a blog on the Harvard Business Review site where in an attempt to tell readers not to hate HR, tells us again that HR executives aren’t financially savvy enough, too focused on delivering programs rather than enhancing value, and unable to conduct themselves as equals to the traditional power players in the organization.  We’re sorry about that.

And most recently, an article in Canadian Business asks, “Should you fire your HR department?” In this article, Bruce Poon Tip, founder of Toronto-based sustainable travel company G Adventures (formerly Gap Adventures) tells us that he fired his entire HR department because rigid HR processes hamper his culture of innovation.  As he says, “I wanted a company that celebrates winning, and I couldn’t get that out of HR.  HR takes away people’s freedoms, and is really just used to try to avoid errors.” G Adventures is a global operator with more than 1,300 employers.  Man, are we sorry for that.  We had no idea that was what we were doing.  We’ll stop that right away.

What’s more, the article goes on to say, a recent study of 720 companies around the world found that “HR companies struggle to demonstrate their contributions to the corporate bottom line.”  Geez, we are so sorry for this.  We had no idea that giving staff Jimmy Choos for rewards for No Lost Time would affect the company’s bottom line.  Wow.  Sorry, we’ll find cheaper rewards for staff. Payless might have some good deals.

And, brace yourselves, apparently “having actual humans handle human resources is more expensive and less efficient than handing it over to machines.”  Drat.  I thought my pink ghetto, low wage, stunted corporate stool was already keeping costs down.  Sorry.  And since we did such a poor job of handling conflict resolution, behaviour management, and training, this can now be handled by managers and supervisors.  You mean to tell us that managers and supervisors have been itching to do this all along?  Gosh, we’re sorry, we had NO idea.

Well Poon Tip, good luck to you and your staff of 1,300. We’re sorry for laying the groundwork for recruitment and selection, performance management, career development, compensation, leadership development, succession planning, employment law, and training and development.

We’re just no damn good.

Photo credit: Canadian Business.com via Andrew B. Meyers

About the Author

Alyson Nyiri

Alyson Nyiri, BA CDP, CHRP is an HR Writer / Researcher living in rural Ontario, Canada. She can be reached at anyiri@cyg.net.

1 Comment

Martin Birt

Were to begin?
I’ve just retired after 30+ yrs in HR in one of Canada’s premier corporations. The VP of HR has always been a member of the corporate leadership team (LT) and every major department had an HR adviser or manager on the LT. This status of business partner came about in part because the HR department worked consistently on relationships and reputation.
I can only guess that at least half the blame must lay with the G Adventures HR manager for the shortsighted actions of Mr. Poon Tip.
You get to be a business partner by understanding the business and facilitating business goals.

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