HR’s Future is at the Center of Things

by Carolyn Sokol on September 18, 2014

5 capitals of business modelAccording to the Forum for the Future, we will improve the quality of our lives when we derive goods and services from five types of sustainable capital. The Forum’s focus is on energy and environmental sustainability, but you can see – in their five capitals model – a structure for the Human Resources function of the future.

The five capitals future
Enough has been said, even on this site, about the demise of legacy HR. Saying any more is beating a dead horse. Whatever HR will be called in the future, the human capital will need some integrating principle and function. It will evolve out of legacy HR, but it will succeed only if it derives from the five types of sustainable capital.

The office plan
There have been many obituaries for HR management. Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS) will certainly bring a paradigm shift in HR functioning in any size company. PEOs and other functional models will move HR tasks off premises. Employees will realize more self-empowerment in their own assessments, training, and benefits. And, HR Specialists and clerical duties will take place in virtual worlds.

However, at some core level, business organizations need a center. Someone has to feed and audit the HRIS, network with the PEO, or cultivate a culture of engagement. Depending on the size of the employee base, this HR control center will grow as a team of better-educated and redirected strategists.

The five capitals
Visualizing models always simplifies things. And, this illustration suggests that the capital areas are distinct and bordered. But in fact, these borders will be permeable, and osmosis will blend these capital forces, giving and taking depending on fluctuating strengths.

  1. Natural capital includes the energy, materials, resources, and environment required to produce products and deliver services.
  2. Social capital refers to the value added to the organization by human relationships, partnerships, and co-operation.
  3. Human capital consists of the health, knowledge, skills, abilities, motivation, and intellectual property of the individuals employed.
  4. Manufactured capital covers the business’s material goods, tools, technology, machines, buildings, and all forms of physical infrastructure.
  5. Financial capital is evidence – in the form of currency – of the enterprise’s assets, productive power, and value of the other four types of capital.

The intent of the Five Capitals model is to persuade corporations that sustainability initiatives are good for the business as a whole.

HR has a place at the center.
To achieve and sustain this business model, you need a focus of activity, strategy, application, and administration. The shift in culture needs a place to operate and a decision-maker in charge of the evolving culture. This new role for Human Resources leadership takes a new education and a deep familiarity with all aspects of the business. It is not enough to know the vocabulary of finance or the terminology of operations. It is not a subject matter of study so much as it is an immersion in process and technique.

The HR office of the future will draw people from non-traditional sources. Staff will migrate to HR from process specialties because they are drawn to the model’s mission. HR personnel will organize around new principles of accountability and productivity. HR leadership will integrate and not administrate. It will intellectually have to integrate information, policy, and process across silos and operations that HRIS can only do digitally. Long story short, there will always be a need for someone to feed and read HRIS as well as someone to put its analytics into play if the five capital assets are to grow.


6 Steps for Finding the Right HR Technology Solution

by Carolyn Sokol on September 12, 2014

HR TechnologyI recently attended the Society for Human Resource Management 2014 Conference in June of this year and one of the great takeaways for me as an HR and tech advocate was Mr. Joe Rotella‘s insights on the the six steps for finding the right HR solution. While I can’t possibly fill my article with the same verve and panache that Mr. Rotella brings to the stage, I can certainly enthusiastically reiterate his more salient points. Here goes:

  1. Complete a Self-assessment and Internal Needs Analysis – Always the starting point for any major project, determining your needs is key. While you do want to efficiently transfer as many processes as possible ( and leave no important one behind) there is no need to go overboard either. To paraphrase Joe, functionality, versatility and customization are key.
  1. Rank Requirements Based on Organizational Impact – This is where the “rubber meets the road” if you do not have an unlimited budget. The key point is that you must prioritize the components that will have the most immediate and dramatic results – read that as the bottom line – within your projected budget. If there is some room left afterwards, then you can add a few bells and whistles.
  1. Identify Potential Solutions—Narrow the Field – In addition to attending trade shows like SHRM2014, there is plenty of information on the Internet as well as an extensive dealer network for the more popular solutions. Joe’s point (I think) is that there are a plethora of software vendors out there who will promise you the world but it is up to you to discriminate between the wheat and the chaff.
  1. “Get Real” with Providers – Once you have identified a half dozen vendors that seem to suit your needs, it is time to ask the “tough” questions that will narrow them down to the top two contenders. As Joe points out, this is not the time to hide any of your needs and hope to fit them in later. Complete transparency with the vendor about your needs is the only way to go.
  1. View Demos From Promising Providers – Now that you have two or three vendors who are firing on all cylinders when it comes to understanding your HCM technology needs, it is time to get serious and invite the two most promising to give a live demo. This process is far more effective than reading written proposals and should definitely include some of the people who will actually be using the software and not just the “decision makers.”
  1. Score Solutions Based on Requirements – While almost everyone will be excited about their particular favorite HCM software and its advantages, it is imperative for everyone involved to take a second, more objective look. This process is most effectively accomplished by using a score-based system. Each person on the committee – as well as those who field-tested the software – should be allowed to grade the software. Then when the results are in, an informed decision can be made.
  1. Request a Written Proposal – Finally, you’re almost home. Now it’s a matter of asking for a written proposal that memorializes all of the agreed upon details. This process will avoid any misunderstandings in the future once the contract is accepted and smooth the implementation of your HCM software package.

Of course, this is just a cursory look at what Mr. Rotella had to say and doesn’t even touch on the concrete questions that he offered for anyone already involved in the task. For more information on this topic, please visit the site or contact us at


HR technologyThe latest statistics show that over one-quarter of the U.S. workforce is now classified by their employers as “contract” or “contingent” and the new burdens imposed by the PPACA is likely to see that percentage  increase significantly over the next few years. For this reason, it is essential that companies develop tools and techniques to properly manage this segment of their workforce.

The Issue
It may seem that many of the issues inherent in this process can be ignored as these workers are acquired through the use of staffing agencies or hired on a “contract” basis. In fact, companies may feel that these employees are merely an ad hoc addition to their workforce. Instead, companies must realize that it is the government that will eventually rule on whether these employees are, in fact, on contract. To make matters worse, the government does not seem to have settled on a final definition of the word.

The Downside
While the prevailing HR mantra is that all workers should be treated the same in all business circumstances, this is an impractical ideal that is all but impossible to maintain. The simple fact of the matter is that it is extremely risky from a legal standpoint to treat contract workers like full-time employees. Instead, new procedures, techniques and tracking methods must be implemented to not only maximize productivity for the company’s own ends but also guarantee compliance with government mandates.

A New Paradigm
Many companies from the behemoth, CVS-Caremark, to the icon of high-tech, Microsoft, have been caught short by the meandering policies of government agencies and the socialist leanings of District Court judges. These companies and many others have been forced to re-categorize employees, pay them back wages and also ante up to the Federal government a substantial fine. If these titans of industry cannot navigate these uncharted waters, smaller companies should certainly beware.

The Solution
Many small to mid-sized companies attempt to integrate the process of managing contingent workers in with their regular payroll and systems. Unfortunately, since these systems are not integrated with each other, this usually leads to a host of errors that can take many man-hours and weeks of actual time to unravel and fix – even if dealing with a relatively simple problem like missed hours.

The use of another HRIS, such as an integrated vendor management system (VMS), can proactively forestall many of these problems and also allow your company to track a variety of other productivity and compliance metrics.  Not only will you keep the government off your back – now and for the foreseeable future – you will also be able to track the time and deliverables of the most under-managed part of your staff.

In short, if you are spending more time managing the management of your employees rather than their tasks themselves, it’s time to take a look at an HRIS system.


Strategic HRSuccessfully completing the day-to-day, administrative tasks of the department is an integral part of HR. While important, these tasks are really just a support mechanism for the rest of the company. It is in the strategic arena where human resource or, more accurately, human capital management can really have an impact on the overall success of a business.

The HR professional who can hurdle the transition from administrative to strategic HR thinking will better serve his company’s employees, enhance his own professional reputation and provide far more value to the company.

Be Involved in the Big Picture – While it is important to fully grasp the fundamentals of HR encompassed by the administrative side, the real value of HCM only reveals itself when HR is integrated into the company’s overall strategic plan. Similarly, being the expert on the administrative aspects will make you the “go to” person on HCM matters, especially when they involve challenges and assignments that go beyond the merely administrative.

Understand the Needs of Your Colleagues – HR is often treated as an outsider or kept in a support role. HR can be so much more on a strategic level if you understand the needs of the other departments. You need to establish yourself and your department as a partner in the business and not just ancillary support. Start by asking the most important question, “How can HCM help each department fulfill its mission?”

Delegate the Administrative Details – Even a small or mid-sized company can benefit from the integration of HCM into their strategic plan. Unfortunately, these smaller companies do not always have the resources to accomplish the task. Consider outsourcing the administrative HR tasks to a professional employer organization so that your HCM team can focus on the more important strategic aspects.

Leverage Your Outside Contacts – There is no reason to reinvent the wheel when there are perfectly good solutions already present. Look for parallels in other industries. You might see a solution in an out of the way place. Similarly, trade associations may have answers or tools to help you implement the strategic view.

The Great Leap Forward
Making the transition from an administrative HR perspective to one with a strategic view can seem a Herculean task. Still, it is the most effective way to leverage your company’s most valuable asset, its people. Start by delegating the least strategic task like payroll to an automated HRIS or outsourcing the task completely. Next, attend as many strategic meetings as possible to determine where your efforts will most likely produce results. Lastly, take that great leap and integrate the HR strategy into the overall company one.

To read more about online HR software. download our complimentary white paper, Web-Based Online Open Enrollment: How a Paperless Process Saves Time, Eliminates Errors and Increases Employee Satisfaction


Elements of Human Capital Management

by Carolyn Sokol on August 22, 2014

HCMThe theory of Human Capital Management (HCM) tries to explain and process the role of human beings in the workplace.   However, there are limitations to the theory because people, in all the diversity of their traditions, talents, and treasures, often differ from what is expected of them. HCM would like to consider humans as assets, but this has several flaws:

  • You cannot count people as if they were physical assets. While the value of physical assets do appreciate or depreciate, you cannot accurately measure the appreciation or depreciation in people.
  • You cannot treat people as financial capital. Finding financial capital is harder than finding people.
  • You cannot identify people as capital assets the same way you list machines. Machines are useful in themselves when efficiency rules, however, people can innovate and adapt where quality is king.

The best practice of Human Capital Management steps up where it can – and where the nature of the work invites – to (1) manage the hiring of the right employees, (2) upgrade their skills, (3) utilize their knowledge to the fullest, (4) motivate performance, and (5) evaluate how they benefit the organization.

Human Capital Management includes the following:

  • Recruiting the best talent available
  • Developing career plans for employees
  • Coaching and mentoring employees
  • Motivating employees to deliver their best
  • Developing performance management strategies

Using HCM software to do the job

One bad hire can ruin the bunch. Today’s employers are long past the day when one body could simply replace another, when one pair of hands was as good as any other, and when all job seekers appeared the same. When hires are made soundly and intelligently, managers spend less time training and re-training. When an organization knows what it needs, Human Capital Management can recruit the right talent, suited and ready for the system. Orientation, then, moves beyond the static review of policies towards a dynamic introduction to the performance already underway.

  1. Human Capital Management software facilitates corporate communication vertically and horizontally. Senior management can access and monitor hiring needs and process. Employees can communicate with peers and teammates and track their training and performance. HCM software thereby reduces misunderstanding among interested functions and stakeholders.
  2. Training builds quality. Well-trained workers perform better than the untrained. Increasing skills and abilities of employees – at all levels – improves the performance and quality of their work. And, because HCM tracks skills, training, experience, and ability, it helps employees become self-sufficient, agile, and adaptable.
  3. HCM software tracks employee assessments and performance evaluations. It requires management’s full buy-in to regular, consistent, and constructive performance feedback. By making reporting systems available to leadership, they can monitor and value their workforce accomplishments, status, and needs.

Human Capital Management software is a tool that makes Human Capital Management more than theory. It pays respect to employees, clarifies what is expected of them, and raises the bar on their performance.

Strategic HMC
Human Capital Management systems become a strategic reality when they align human capital strategies with the business mission by providing, integrating, and reporting the data required for the planning, analysis, and management of human capital assets.

To compare HCM software systems try our Quick Product Search Tool.


HRIS: Technology and Organizational Complexity

by Carolyn Sokol on August 14, 2014

HR technologyGoogle “office automation” dates back to the 70s and 80s. Before the vocabulary switched to “chips” and “processors,” futurists predicted a world of technology created leisure. The assumption was that, once you made work faster, it would become easier. Noted human resources technology expert Naomi Bloom describes this as extrapolative thinking.

Technology must do more than expedite work.

However, there is no evidence that office technology has fundamentally eased labor, quickened work, or improved productivity. For example, despite the fact that human resources technology makes information instantaneously accessible, the workload may have actually increased because human resources personnel are now multi-tasked and salaried exempt. The value of HRIS does not lie only in its ability to expedite work.

You see, the evolution the futurists predicted as occurring on a straight line has happened in the context of other forces operating synergistically and independently. So much has happened – socially, economically, and managerially – during this 20 to 30-year evolution that technology meant to promise simplicity presents itself as complexity.

It’s all in how you use it

The true value of HRIS lies in how it is strategically implemented and utilized. To paraphrase Naomi Bloom:

  1. Would a business benefit from doing the work of Human Resources within the organization or buying the results from a third party?
  2. What are the best mechanisms, sources, terms, and conditions for purchasing the same work done by a third party?

The value of HRIS technology lies not in what it can do so much as in how you use it. In the face of complexity, writes John Hagel III, “we need to expand our focus on innovation beyond the narrow frame of technology and product innovation. If we are to successfully adapt to the escalating complexity of our environment, we need to invest time and energy in exploring institutional innovation [across the organizational silos].”

Strategically used, Human Resources technology – in its management of information, talent, human capital, and performance – can be the central key to managing and exploiting the new and always evolving complexity. And, to play that role, HRIS must contribute to the often unarticulated shift in management culture. It can and must contribute to institutional innovation on a sustaining basis:

  • Organizations must decentralize by deferring power and authority to employees. This innovation requires the ability of the organization to view people as performance assets, human capital able to expand growth instead of as a labor burden meant to be eliminated.
  • Lifelong learning needs to be put in place, designed and measured to influence aligned performance outcomes, it requires tracking, communication, and facilitation.
  • Core strengths must drive all organizational behaviors, so the key performance metric for HR technology lies in its ability to free management to focus on the institutional innovation that matters.
  • As business economies and operation processes become socialized and collaborative, the Human Resources technology must facilitate  support to the institutional innovation dynamic.
  • Human Resources management must dump the traditional models that may have defined and proscribed its clerical behavior for ages.

Grooming HR professionals for institutional innovation

Bill Roberts wrote in SHRM Magazine (2008), “The heart of the HR teaching profession is in the right place, but most professors do not have the knowledge to teach the courses [in HRIS]. Like the HR profession, the HR academic profession has historically attracted people with varying degrees of technophobia.”

Accepting this as a given demands a new focus on the academic and practical preparation of Human Resources personnel.

  • Community college experience can prepare entry-level candidates with a thorough background in the core Human Resources issues of compliance and risk management.
  • Human Resources Bachelor’s programs should deepen that core knowledge and expand it with practicums in interviewing, crisis management, and problem solving. The academic discipline should be standardized and reflect input from professional standard-bearers such as SHRM.
  • Disciplines, such as organizational development, knowledge management, training & development, performance management, strategic HR management, and more, require graduate education that focuses on the discipline as a career path beyond Human Resources generalist positions.
  • The assessment and implementation of HRIS and related HR technology will be best served by laser-focused training offered by providers.

Only after HR end-users are trained and experts in technology (systems and operation as well as utilization and potential) will those users be able to find time and resources to contribute to strategic solutions in organization complexity.


Workers’ Comp and Your HRIS Software

by Carolyn Sokol on August 6, 2014

Workers' compensation riskThe premium rate for a business’s workers’ compensation insurance starts with a base count of employees. A business must make a correct classification of itself according to definitions determined by the National Council of Compensation Insurance (NCCI) or the respective State Rating Bureau. If classified incorrect its rating may cause over or under rating the employer’s risk.

Employees are further classified by the type of work they do in their respective workplace. For example, a driver is classified according to his/her job functions, but that classification is also categorized by the risk of the industry sector. A driver employed by an armored car service is at different risk than a driver for a retail store.

Getting these classifications right and keeping them current is vital to managing your business workers’ compensation insurance premium rate.

HRIS Reliability

An HRIS program brings credibility and accuracy to your payroll audits. But, it is only as infallible as your input and updates. Make sure to accurately update the following:

  • Complete a correct and current list of employees on staff.
  • Identify employees as regular, probationary, temporary, full-time, part-time, and exempt or non-exempt.
  • Locate or prepare job analyses and descriptions for all work positions.
  • Identify the minimum number of hours required of workers to be considered full-time.
  • Determine how accurately your business has classified employees as exempt.
  • Confirm that independent contractors are clearly assigned.

Your HRIS software will be an enormous help in sorting, storing, and reporting the data auditors want to see.

Schedule HRIS Audits

Still, HRIS can only process that data provided. It is not enough to have confidence in your installation data because there will always be changes: turnover, transfers, reassignments, and promotions. Your HRIS program’s value is a function of the regular reviews you schedule and maintain. It is prudent to review the following:

  • Enter employee changes accurately and consistently with HRIS implementation directions.
  • Train employees involved with HRIS interface in the need for accuracy and audits.
  • Plan a quarterly desk audit of HRIS performance. (A desk audit can be a simple review of paperwork and a comparison to the software reports.)
  • Review your HRIS job classification reports together with your workers’ compensation insurance broker well before soliciting your insurance premium rate.

A good HRIS program can give you a false confidence in its outputs. There is a risk that you will think the quality is self-perpetuating. However, getting your workers’ comp rate right from the start and keeping it right is your job. Don’t allow there to be any costly oversight.


6 Questions that divide HR and HRIS

by Carolyn Sokol on August 1, 2014

HR and HRIS working togetherThe evolution of technology will determine the future of Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS). With no lid on the potential of technology, it is difficult – even for our imagination – to see beyond a near future. Picturing the Human Resources function in that future presents a disconnect we may not be near solving.

The technologist sees a future without limit, information technology smart enough to eliminate human intervention. Human Resources professionals anticipate technology that takes on enough of their routine to let them reimagine their role. These visions do not integrate fully.

1.  What Does “Management” Mean?
“Management” means different things from the different perspectives. “Management” means processing, handling, wrangling, corralling, analyzing, and administrating – functions Information Technology manages very efficiently. For the technologist, management is a project.

Human Resources traditions value HRIS because it assumes all those tasks. That way Human Resources management can counsel, protect, and advocate in the interests of risk management and talent development. These perspectives do not integrate without effort. For the HR professional, “management” is a service.

2.  What Happens to Authority?
As HRIS technology enables employee participation, it reduces the employees’ social interaction with HR. For the engineer, that equals labor efficiency. For HR professionals, that relief threatens their larger role as adviser. Relieved from the administrative tasks, they struggle to fill the gap with relevant work.

Until HR professionals articulate and promote a new stakeholder value, they lose perceived value and respect to technology that empowers virtual work, engages contemporary employees, and communicates values-added. HR loses personal authority as the HRIS interface forms its own social connection.

3.  What Happens to HR’s Self-Perception?
Originally configured and sold as data processing, HRIS has evolved in terms of speed, scope, and depth of databases and mining efficiency. HRIS vendors speak for their technologists’ worldview. They promote and drive design that emphasizes data entry, transaction processing, and information integration. This is what the business does, and the vendors report those “needs to improve.”

This devalues HR’s perception of its profession. By and large, HR professionals have not trained or studied to fully understand HR technology or its potential. They are not fully equipped to shop critically and/or direct the level of integration and predictive analytics they desire. Without that ability, they are at the mercy of the stakeholders who make efficiency a primary value.

4.  What Does Total Access Mean?
Software engineering is a linear experience. Even the integration of systems is perceived in straight-line terms. “Information” happens where data intersects. This logic lets technology take over best practices, on-boarding policy, and risk management information.

Human Resources personnel see human systems as dynamic and organic, subtle and unpredictable – all qualities that defy reduction. They struggle to see themselves excluded from training and development, employee performance assessment, and benefits counseling. While the HR professionals may value the ability to access all systems 24/7, they also surrender power to the employees’ mobile access.

5.  What Value Lies in Reporting Capabilities?
Information designers build infinite reports into their systems. They promote reports of all sizes and complexity as a sales feature. It grows out of their process orientation. They anticipate all reporting interests for all possible stakeholders.

The abundance of reports and reporting capabilities can overwhelm HR professionals. Report management is already a full-time position worth delegating to a specialist. HR leadership has to configure its role as one that uses these reports to support corporate goals.

6.  What is the Solution?
Legacy Human Resources has had a way of finding itself in time. HR professionals tend to confuse this with an evolution in their role when it is adaptation at best. The HRIS writers, on the other hand, think they can build future into their systems when this is scalability at best. This puts them somewhat at odds from the beginning.

Any solution lies in integrating their visions. But, it lies somewhere before the roles are set. These views need the occasion where they become mutually dependent. They need the opportunity to share their needs and designs. At the core level, they should enjoy and embrace the shared responsibility.

To find the HRIS/HRMS solution that best matches your business needs, start your search with our HR Software Selection Tool.


8 Steps to a Successful HRIS Installation

by Carolyn Sokol on July 25, 2014

Install softwareA Human Resources Information System (HRIS) can not (or should not) be installed without a plan. The plan should precede any commitment to purchase because the implementation process should be well understood.  After all, anything involving technology occurs under pressures, factors, and conditions that are fluid and potentially counter-productive. While the benefits of an HRIS outweigh the concerns, a successful HRIS installation requires attention, strategic planning, and these eight steps.

The Timeline

Your business timeline may not be the same as the provider’s schedule. The provider will focus on undraping the system, plugging it in, running tests, and troubleshooting. The vendor will usually put six to eight weeks on the calendar. Duration is partly a function of data volume and training required.

However, your HR calendar is more complex because people do not roll out on a level playing field. That same six to eight weeks could overlap with behavioral calendars. There are necessary considerations for vacation season, open benefits enrollment, performance assessment cycles, social calendars, and any number of distractions not felt by the provider.

All these schedules must link with decision-making, team-formation, advance communication, installation, and employee training and acceptance. In other words, you will need to be  cognizant of the timeline of installation when deciding to adopt an HRIS.  Once you have purchased an HRIS, installation can begin.

The Installation

  1. Audit: The HRIS provider will direct a business process audit to 1) align processes that integrate easily, 2) revise processes that require adaptation, and 3) replace processes needing it. This discovery process directs and enables team appointments and strategy. Discovery does not proceed without setting a schedule of goals, processes, and sub-processes.
  2. Teams: Teams must reflect the employee needs as well as corporate and vendor interests. Human Resources concerns and IT interests are not exclusive here. While IT should drive the project management, HR needs are not typical of the data functions IT usually serves. The project management focus must remain on integration more than data management.
  3. Installation: Human Resources must stay away from installation. It is the work of Information Technology leadership or outsourced consultants. Inclusion of in-house IT staff and/or HR liaison specialists engages them early in the process.
  4. Conversion: The installation is all about conversion – taking existing data and reconfiguring it to new ends. But, it is also about doing it seamlessly. It is about recognizing that there is archived data, current data, new data, and future data. The conversion takes the static and makes it dynamic and scalable.
  5. Testing: Installation leads to redundant testing and troubleshooting to identify failure, weakness, and remedy. Done right, it will enable continuing self-evaluation and re-configuration.
  6. Training: It is a huge mistake to limit training to HR staff. HR staff need to know operation, liaison, and the core aspects of the system and its operation. However, they are not the end-users. All silo interests have strong interests: finance, operations, purchasing, etc. And, rank and file employees need more than instruction on operation of the system. Allowing employees the feedback and some control over their daily records is a cultural innovation that needs communication, training, and maintenance.
  7. Opening Day: HRIS is a “go” on this day. Measure ROI from opening day forward.
  8. Review: At an agreed upon date, employer and provider will review the system’s performance and manner of use. The review may eliminate functions that appear superfluous in light of the usage, highlight areas of poor performance, or identify training needs.

The Lesson

The purchase and installation of HRIS is a long way from slipping a disc into your laptop. This is not downloadable software. It is a commitment of time, system, and money. Its performance will succeed once you have formed and shared clear expectations.

HRIS providers are ready to install, and most are ready to complete the installation as partners respecting your interests and quality concerns. It is in their interest that installation succeeds, but it is your management duty to run the show.

For more information on selecting an HRIS system, download our free comprehensive Buyer’s Guide.


5 Key Reasons Why HR Underperforms

by Carolyn Sokol on July 15, 2014

poor career pathHuman Resources and talent management programs are under-performing or barely getting by in 92% of 2,532 businesses surveyed by Deloite and reported in HR Magazine (May 2014). Some 43% admit they do not provide the training to HR, and 47% rate their own businesses low at preparing HR to deliver solutions aligned with business needs.

How did we get here?
There is no use asking, “How did we get here?” The situation is what it is, and it has been the situation since the Human Resources function was created. Whether organizations can find the wherewithal to solve the problem or even enter a productive dialog on solutions for re-skilling HR remains an open question. The problem reflects a number of conditions, below are the 5 key reasons why HR underperforms.

  1. Hiring – People fall into Human Resources. Clerks are hired for their seriousness of purpose and work ethic. They are often found in other departments and transferred for their detail in clerical work and in working with data. They may be vetted, but recruits are not checked for experience and talent that might be predictive.
  2. Education – Even though most community colleges and many vo-tech schools offer courses, certificates, and degrees in HR studies, there is no evidence that businesses staff with this aligned education. HR managers and officers may come to the table with college degrees; those degrees are rich with compliance and theory but usually short on practical application and experience. And, they are as lacking in leadership and management training as other hires to management.
  3. Purpose – HR continues to attract people who wear their hearts on their sleeves. Genuinely motivated, they consider HR to be an agent of change and an advocate of employee concerns. This focus on the high road often distracts them, undercuts their effectiveness, and complicates corporate intentions. HR may provide value as an ombudsperson and master of conflict resolution, but it is presumptions to position itself as the conscience of the company.
  4. Task – Human Resources management finds too much pleasure in multi-tasking. They like the variety and constant flux in the duties. However, this is actually an abrogation of management leadership. There is no future in being all things to all people. Leaders should organize, delegate, and direct tasks.
  5. Support – What the business expects of HR and what HR expects of itself has much to do with the support the business leadership is willing to provide. If, as is most often the case, the corporation sees Human Resources as a necessary evil, prophylactic in purpose and practice, it will make no investment in building an HR bench or effort to align it with other business goals.

HR continues to fill the business needs it always has. However, without a more holistic approach to building and sustaining Human Resources, HR will continue to underperform and barely get by unless businesses address these 5 key areas.

You may want to download our white paper compliments of Lawson, Four Universal HR Needs… and How Real Organizations Have Satisfied Them

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