Laurie Ruettimann doesn’t think there’s much wrong with human resources. As a human resources consultant and founder of her own firm, she has issues with the negative language around the practice of HR.
“More and more, I’m not increasingly sure that what we call ‘problems’ are reliable and valid issues within human resources,” she said. For example, she often hears that departments are very compliance driven. Her response: “Well, yeah. That’s the nature of human resources.” Companies have to comply with policies, and if it isn’t human resources doing so, she said it’s the legal department or operations.
“When you dig a little bit deeper, what you find is that HR is actually doing its job, and sometimes it’s the communication style, sometimes it’s the internal way that HR markets itself … but the work in of itself has to get done.”
When HR solutions companies and vendors put out articles that say, for example, executives don’t have faith in the modern HR leader, she said that’s not real research. It’s marketing.
“It’s almost like this self-perpetuating cycle. We say HR sucks. And we don’t say it with any sort of resolve at the end. The result is get rid of your HR department, and bring in [a vendor].” These organizations have a vested interest in disrespecting the modern HR practitioner, she said.
However, human resources practitioners are at the “intersection of work, power, politics and money,” she said. “We sit where budget decisions are made. … And if you can bump out the HR professional and get a consultant in, you influence where dollars are spent.”
She said that as spending with consulting agencies goes up, HR takes more and more of a public relations hit. The more services that are offered, the bigger the hit the human resources practice takes.
On the other hand, Deloitte University Press said that people analytics are an important tool to help drive business. Three-fourths of their polled companies said people analytics are important, but only 8 percent said their organization is strong in that area. Additionally, 80 percent of HR professionals polled said they would score themselves low on their ability to analyze data —“a troubling fact in an increasingly data-driven field,” according to the study.
Then, vendors fill that gap in the ability to analyze. However, the article said that “buying more data-driven HR and talent management software is just the first step — it will take several years for businesses to fully absorb this technology.”
Ruettimann said that although it’s OK to outsource some tasks, she believes owning is better than leasing, especially when it comes to someone overseeing an organization’s people agenda. If a company does make the change and introduces a vendor, she advised that the company keep the employees in mind during the decision-making process.
To defend the traditional model of HR departments, Ruettimann advises that the department constantly shows leadership that the team “operates as a critical fulcrum between people and profits.”