As I wrote in my last post, I was shocked by Bernard Marr’s ideas in his article, Why We No Longer Need HR Departments, published on LinkedIn this past November.
Not only is Marr’s assertion that we no longer need HR departments scary, the “advice” he offers to HR is completely flawed.
First of all, he says there’s a need for a name change (he doesn’t like the word resources). He then recommends creating two separate teams to handle the HR-related work. And, finally, he suggests outsourcing or automating anything from HR that doesn’t “add value”.
None of this advice makes sense, and here’s why:
Are people resources? Yes, valuable resources.
Marr has issue with the term “human resources”, and argues that people are more than a resource or a commodity. I agree; people aren’t commodities. However, people offer their resources in the form of skills, talent and abilities. These are resources that a business uses to produce goods or deliver a service. In fact, I believe people are one of, if not the most valuable resources in a business. Using the term “human resources” highlights the fact that humans are valuable resources in the business.
What do two teams equal? Trouble!
Marr suggests creating two teams: one team focused on people support and another on people analytics. That will only cause trouble. In my experience, creating separate teams — regardless of the function — only complicates things. Two teams makes for a duplication of efforts, more confusion from clients/customers and bigger silos. In spite of good intentions, splitting a team into two usually leads to less communication and less alignment. When it comes to human resources, working together to source, hire, develop, retain and analyze talent is at the core of ONE team’s success.
What about outsourcing and automating?
In his article, Marr recommends “outsourcing and automating any non-value adding” parts of HR. I think there are viable reasons to outsource an HR function, for example if the size of an organization or skill gaps dictate the need. Likewise, technology provides great opportunities for automation that can help HR practiconers more effectively perform their jobs.
Where I disagree with Marr is that I don’t believe there are any “non-value adding parts” of the HR function. What’s non-value adding about hiring your people? Paying them? Developing them? Terminating them with dignity and respect? Trying to base an outsourcing or automation strategy on the non-value adding elements of HR, when those don’t exist, doesn’t make sense.
If you look at Marr’s post, you’ll see that I wasn’t the only one who took issue with what he wrote. He received more than 3,500 comments — some people agreed with him but many people were outraged by his statements.
As providers of HR products and services we must understand one thing from Marr’s post — the challenges our clients face in establishing their role as business partners. Marr doesn’t understand HR’s role in the business. He questions the value of HR. And, he broadcasts these views to anyone who will listen.
Unfortunately, dealing with doubters like Marr is a challenge many of our HR clients face in their own organizations.
Looking for ways to help your clients overcome those challenges? Request a copy of my FREE REPORT here.