Are Humans a Resource? (HR’s Role?)

December 12, 2010 at 10:50 am 1 comment

I guess I’m in Human Resources because I really do believe humans are more than a “resource” for organizations to use like so much equipment or building space. We recently held our company Christmas party, I was responsible (aren’t most HR shops?) Luckily, I had a ton o’ help and supportive management; I think a lovely time was had by all.  One thing this party re-emphasized to me is that a company is great because of its people. While some may posit that a company is great because of their products, their technologies, their strategies, etc. I would remind: Who makes and markets those products? People. Who creates and refines those technologies? People. Who determines and executes those strategies? People.

HR professionals will invariably find themselves at one point in their career or another walking a tightrope, making some fine judgment calls, when in cases of dispute to support the employee or management.  One role HR has been cast in is “employee advocate”.  This role is an especially tenuous one, since the HR Manager/Director doesn’t work for the employee; they work for management. While many HR functions exist to support of the employee, such as benefits and parties, the bottom line is that HR exists in an organization to primarily serve management, to provide management advisory services in those classic functions of attracting, motivating and retaining employees. Companies don’t provide those fringe benefits out of the goodness of their hearts; they do it to be competitive; to attract and retain.

So how do YOU see HR’s role?  Who do YOU think HR works for – employees or management?


Entry filed under: Human Resources (HR). Tags: , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Perry Colton  |  February 14, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    HR does have a diverse set of variable to consider when determining how best to serve the company. Employees need to understand that HR works for the organization but part of the HR role is to align employee goals as much as is practical with company goals.
    Rampant adverse selection is currently a huge failure, at least partially attributable to HR. HR needs to keep a long-term perspective when deciding who to promote, who to advocate, who to hire, and whether to retain and retrain or blame and terminate.
    These decisions can be assisted by both qualitative and quantitative analyses but it takes intimate knowledge of both the company and the employee to evaluate whether they are compatible. If a company has 1000 employees and 1 is not aligned the waste can be disastrous. You might say “HR works for the most stakeholders at any given time.” That would still be the company, wouldn’t it?



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