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What is the Future of HR?

What is the Future of HR?

Jay Jamrog | i4cp

September 15, 2010

Many years ago I was quoted in the infamous Fast Company article “Why We Hate HR.” Even though the article is 5 years old, I continue to see a chorus of authors and HR naysayers who essentially say the same thing: HR is not strategic.

Despite the negativity, all of these articles make note of the fact that organizations today are aware of the growing importance of human capital and the need to leverage that asset to build and sustain a competitive advantage. Yet they typically criticize HR for not meeting that challenge, just as the Fast Company article did: “HR is the corporate function with the greatest potential – the key driver, in theory, of business performance – and also the one that most consistently under delivers.” As the author pointed out, HR professionals “aren’t particularly interested in, or equipped for, doing business.” If true, that’s a real problem for businesses.

Into this debate comes a steady chorus of so-called “experts” who counsel HR that, if they want to get the respect they deserve, they need to step up, get a seat at the table and become a full partner in the development and implementation of the business strategy. Although there is widespread acceptance of this approach, progress towards this elusive goal of becoming a strategic business partner has been slow.

Despite over 20 years of rhetoric devoted to this topic, today – according to recent i4cp research – less than one quarter of HR functions consider themselves to be strategic business partners. The number improves only slightly when we segment by high market performing organizations. But, even in these top organizations, only one third reports that they are full partners in developing and implementing business strategy.

This begs the question: Are the critics right about the HR profession, or is the goal of adding value by becoming a strategic business partner and getting a seat at the table the wrong strategy for HR? At i4cp, we work with many organizations where HR is truly respected for the value they bring to the business. So what are they doing differently?

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