A Series of Unfortunate Events – Human Resources… or Remains

Ah, HR – how doth thou hate us…

At least that’s how it feels. Starting with my swift demise to the slow grind of selecting a new role, I have had plenty of contact with HR. (They used to be called the ‘Personnel Department‘ but that wasn’t grand enough)

Of course, many times I don’t even blip on HR’s radar at a hiring company. For large firms, the important task of scanning resumes for the right selection of candidates often falls to an application that scans the submitted letter and details for key phrases.

Assuming robo-admin flags you, it then goes to some harassed minion to shuffle in front of a hiring manager. Hopefully you catch them when they’re not too busy, or annoyed, so they at least read the first half a page.

Then there is the endless cycle of interviews. First, a few by phone, probably just to check you aren’t a total idiot. Then, an interview, or more specifically a series of interviews, where five different interviewers follow each other in and pretty much ask the same questions. Over, and over, and over again. And this all takes weeks…

The issue seems to be that we’re following a process. When we hire, we have to check the boxes, show due diligence, and then spin the wheel.

When we dismiss the staff, we have our ‘end of service’ script to walk through.

Every single time, it seems to be process over value. Looking back at our annual appraisals, it was always the process that was important.

Where is the value-add?

For a no holds barred opinion on HR with this sentiment, the article by Fast Company: Why We Hate HR pretty much sums up the indictment.

In a knowledge economy, companies that have the best talent win. We all know that. Human resources execs should be making the most of our, well, human resources — finding the best hires, nurturing the stars, fostering a productive work environment — just as IT runs the computers and finance minds the capital. HR should be joined to business strategy at the hip.

Instead, most HR organizations have ghettoized themselves literally to the brink of obsolescence.

The people I’ve met in HR seem to be genuinely nice people, but it always feels like they are for the company first. I have observed that whenever an HR rep appeared on the floor, everyone got restless.

And when some bizarre edict comes down from on high, they institute it without hesitation and sleep just fine; they were only obeying orders.

It’s a bit like having a friend who’s a cop. You like them, you know they do an important job, you know they put real effort into it – but in the back of your mind you also know that it you were to slip up legally, they’d cuff you and have you under arrest without hesitation.

This isn’t sour grapes at being let go. I’m pretty sure most HR do not like dismissing people and, from the body language in my last internal meeting, they didn’t look comfortable. Mine was short, efficient, and pretty painless overall; hiring and firing is part and parcel of the job. But it always feels the same, just another process and no value added.

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