From the Archive – Future Friday: Why the future of HR is so grim!

Without changes this may be the future of HR.
Without changes this may be the future of HR.

I am on vacation so I have reached back to repost some of my favorite posts. Originally posted on March 21, 2014 it was heavily retweeted and even prompted a couple of comments. Please feel free to continue the discussion. 
It never makes for a pleasant day to read how your profession is stumbling around in the dark without a flashlight. That is what I read into the recent Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2014 report recently published. This month marks the 25th anniversary of the Internet and unfortunately much of HR is still adapting to its use.
What is so grim?
You may wonder why I consider things so grim. Let’s take a look at some of the numbers:

  • Less than 8% of HR leaders have confidence that their teams have the skills needed to meet the challenge of today’s global environment and deliver innovative programs that drive business impact. If only 8% of HR leaders say that I bet has got to be ZERO percent of CEOs that say that, or at least less than 1%.
  • 43% of respondents to the survey indicated that their organizations are “weak” when it comes to providing HR with appropriate training and experiences.
  • 47% ranked their organizations “weak” on preparing HR to deliver programs aligned with business needs.
  • More than one-third (34%) of the respondents said their HR and talent programs are just “getting by” or even “underperforming.”
  • More than half (54%) indicate that their practices in the use of analytics for recruitment are “weak.”
  • Only 62% of companies said their organizations rely on social tools for sourcing and advertising positions. Did you read that? In this day and age ONLY 62% use social tools. That should be 100%!
  • Despite the fact that Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2015, two-thirds of the respondents reported “weak” capabilities when it comes to providing focused leadership programs for Millennials.
  • Most companies still do not understand the value of a diverse workforce that focuses on inclusion and 1/3 are not ready to deal with that issue at all.

I think you get the point the report makes and what I wanted to point out. Some of you glass half-full types may take a look at these numbers and say there are 60% or so that say that they are not weak, but that 60% is spread between the other categories. The report says:

 More than 40 percent of respondents reported their companies were “not ready” to address talent and HR analytics, HR technology, the overwhelmed employee, and performance management—the lowest levels of readiness among all the trends. These low reported levels of readiness and preparedness are a warning signal, considering the high levels of urgency and importance attributed to the trends in the global survey.

If there is any good news in the report it is that the grade given HR in 2013 was a D+ and in 2014 we have improved to C-.
So why are we so bad?
Even though there companies that do an excellent job with their HR the profession as a whole appears to be in pretty bad shape. This survey included 2,532 business and HR leaders in 94 countries. These were most likely larger companies and I can tell you that HR in smaller companies is even in worse shape. Here are the reasons why I think HR is in such bad shape.

  • The profession is still seen as being an unimportant, mostly clerical, boring profession that is a safe home of the “HR Lady.” Yes, I realize that I raised some hackles with that statement. Perhaps I am wrong, but attend a conference and do a gender count. I teach certification classes and in the 15 years I have been teaching less than 10% of my students have been men. Looking from the outside in what does it look like to you?
  • Executives are loathe to spend money on improving HR. To them it does not fall to the bottomline, or at least that is what they think. Those of us in the profession know differently but we are not very good at improving it. The Deloitte survey showed that 47% of polled companies planned on keeping the HR budget the same or decreasing it. Only 13% of companies planned on increasing more than 5%. In days were the largest cost is labor (aka HR) that is pretty sad.
  • There really is no standard of entry into the profession. Anyone can be in HR if they are willing to do it. I will admit I “fell into” the profession 30 years ago and I am not alone. It still happens today. Through SHRM and HRCI offer certification as a PHR or SPHR but there are people in the “profession” that have no clue what that means. I can guarantee there are very, very few CEOs who have an idea what that means.
  • There are not enough risk takers in HR. For some reason HR seems to attract conservative people who are afraid to take a step without having their hand held. Yes I know many great HR people who don’t fit that mold, but there are not enough. And yes, I know the nature of HR is conservatism. I work in HR compliance and I preach document, document, document. But that doesn’t mean I like it.
  • We do NOT have enough technical people in HR. Period.

What do we do?
To be honest with you this post has gone too long for me to offer a suggestion in this post. I offer to you as a beginning point this post by Patrick Clark called How Do I Build an HR Department for the Future? I would prefer to have your suggestions on what we need to do.
So if you made it this far offer a solution in the comment section. Damn people we have to start some place otherwise there will be no future of HR.
Hat tip to Tim Gould of HR Morning for his post HR ready for the future? No way, report says

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