Is it time to reinvent Human Resources?

Time to reinvent Human Resources

Human resources departments have been getting a lot of hate recently. There are hundreds of articles written every week questioning if HR departments will become extinct in the coming years, and even top-level management are losing faith in HR.

Though I may agree with some of the points they make in these articles, I don’t necessarily see a reason to eliminate a vital part of a company.

According to KPMG’s recent study, HR departments will be going through a major overhaul within the coming years. All the companies that participated in the study agreed that they need to create agile organisations. They want to achieve an optimal workplace by having a good mix of employee types and fair employment policies. More importantly, there is big a need for “smart” technology to support the people, not just the businesses.

So what can be done to change the archaic ways that human resources functions?

Simple. Treat people like people and adapt to the new times. Here’s how the new HR works.

The New-School HR Department

You don’t have to look that hard anymore to find titles like “Happiness Coordinator” or “Manager of People Operations” as it is becoming the norm. Now more than ever, human resource departments are focusing more on the “human” aspect.

People are becoming the main focus of this reinvention of the department, and this has led to more success for hundreds of thousands of organisations across the globe.

All of these organisations have one thing in common; they want to create a motivating atmosphere for their employees.

Here’s how they’re doing it:

Data-driven HR

HR data analysis is/will be the next big trend of the future.

Using all the different types of human resource analytics that are out there, HR departments will now have data to back their hypotheses pertaining to their employees.

They can obtain information by using a medium like a pulse survey platform, in order to measure things like employee engagement and get instant feedback from their employees.

Data-driven recruitment will likely be the next big thing in HR, as it will allow employers to get the best cultural fit within their organisation.


Recruitment and retention of top talent have never been as prominent as it is now. Companies are pulling out all the stops; having great perks, offering more work-life balance, autonomy, and giving employees the flexibility to work from home.

All of this is being done so companies can have the competitive advantage to obtain and retain talented employees.

Engaged employees that love the company will become recruiting tools themselves, as they are walking and talking company ambassadors. Meaning the better the culture is, the more likely it is that an employee will go out of their way to recruit a like-minded, talented individual.


The previous notion was that HR was about following and enforcing the rules. They were almost like the police of employment law – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however, it adds that extra layer of stress on the employees, knowing they can get in trouble for something ridiculous.

When employees are stressed, workplaces tend to not be enjoyable. It disengages the employees, and they may feel like they’re in a bad office. Here is some more research that proves that having an employee-centric environment can benefit a workplace:

Companies are adapting to have more of a start-up culture within their office. Everything is tailored to benefit the employee and on the other end of the spectrum, employees are becoming obsessed with creating a great culture at their office. So it’s a fair trade-off for the employee and the company.

Focused on culture

Top companies are doing their best to create crazy offices that succeed in creating better ambassadors, workers, and, most importantly, people. Larger enterprises are doing their best to create workplaces that people love going to and work hard to maintain.

From the employee standpoint, they are doing their best to preserve what they have built. Creating a culture of growth, knowledge, and creativity, in order to keep building a great office.

A lot of companies are picking up agile methodologies in order to run a leaner business. Meaning that companies are working fast, and even if they fail during a project, they fail fast and pick up quickly.

Why Your Company Needs HR

Companies will always benefit from having an HR department. The key is to make sure that they’re not overly intrusive and getting involved with office politics — The last thing you want is your office feeling like an episode of House Of Cards.

Whether companies adapt to the new HR practices or not, it’s important that they never forget that the department exists to benefit the people. Your company needs an HR department to make sure that the employees are being taken care of. Rather than being seen as the police, they have to feel more like doctors in the workplace.

With the research that has been done and the new trends in the industry, it’s safe to say that HR departments have learned from their mistakes. They are becoming a vital part of a company and a bigger, badder department, that will more than likely contribute to a company’s success.

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  • Ray Bigger

    Jeffrey, whilst I would agree with all of the above per se, the most glaring omission is, unless I missed it, HR has to become more business savvy meaning they need to understand how business really works and that also means becoming strategic. HR today spends to much time in their ‘tactical comfort zone’. This was the standout comment from a CEO panel at an HR Summit session I ran last year and will likely be the theme for this years Summit in May. Is it all HR’s fault ? – no. CEO’s must bear some responsibility for not engaging with HR that said HR struggles to engage at the strategic level.. Finally your last para says “Why your Company needs HR”. Well some have already dispensed with HR passing the accountability to Business/Division Heads. Others talk about splitting HR into Admin and Leadership/Talent respectively with the latter being headed by a non-HR person. HR needs help

  • Hey Ray,

    I couldn’t agree more. One of my colleagues wrote a post about a year ago, for companies to begin viewing HR as a profit center. I think it’s vital that HR practitioners understand how every decision made impacts the business as a whole. I know that we get caught up with our daily business and it’s hard to see the synergy between HR departments and other parts of a company, but those lines are getting thinner and thinner, and soon, it’ll be non-existent.

    Working with a small-team for several years has taught me that departments are as good as it’s people, and losing (or sticking to the old way) HR is not going to motivate anyone. Causing thousands, maybe millions, in damages.

    I know I deviated from the topic mentioned, but I agree with you 100%. I’ll keep it in mind for my next post ;)

    – Jeff

    Also, if you want to check out that post:

    It may be a bit outdated, but we’ll start making some changes.

  • Hello Jeffrey, enjoyed your article, thanks.

    The article shows that the HR Dept. of the future will continue to miss the most important piece of the job success puzzle. Cultural fit is necessary as well as job competence but the missing piece is job talent.

    A. 80% of employees self-report that they are not engaged.
    B. 80% of managers are ill suited to effectively manage people.
    C. The two 80 percents are closely related.

    Employers keep hiring the wrong people to be their managers and then they wonder why they have so few successful, long-term engaged employees. Successful employees have all three of the following success predictors while unsuccessful employee lack one or two and usually it is Job Talent that they lack.
    1. Competence
    2. Cultural Fit
    3. Job Talent

    Employers do a…
    A. GREAT job of hiring competent employees, about 95%
    B. good job of hiring competent employees who fit the culture, about 70%
    C. POOR job of hiring competent employees who fit the culture and who have a talent for the job, about 20%

    Identifying the talent required for each job seems to be missing from talent and management discussions. If we ignore any of the three criteria, our workforce will be less successful with higher turnover than if we do not ignore any of the three criteria.
    1. Competence
    2. Cultural Fit
    3. Job Talent

    There are many factors to consider when hiring and managing talent but first we need to define talent unless “hiring talent” means “hiring employees.” Everyone wants to
    hire for and manage talent but if we can’t answer the five questions below with specificity, we can’t hire or manage talent effectively.
    1. How do we define talent?
    2. How do we measure talent?
    3. How do we know a candidate’s talent?
    4. How do we know what talent is required for each job?
    5. How do we match a candidate’s talent to the talent demanded by the job?

    Most managers cannot answer the five questions with specificity but the answers provide the framework for hiring successful employees and creating an engaged workforce.

    Talent is not found in resumes or interviews or background checks or college transcripts.

    Talent must be hired since it cannot be acquired or imparted after the hire.

    • Hey Robert,

      Thank you for pointing that out. I didn’t want to bring it up in this blog specifically… mostly because I felt like I was writing too much :/

      However, I have written about hiring for cultural fit in the past.

      Here’s a guest post on Officevibe about the subject:

      Here are some of my posts about the subject:

      I couldn’t agree more with all the points you brought up. And I TOTALLY think companies need to do a great job of “slow hiring” in order to get a feel for what type of employee they’re getting.

      – Jeff Fermin

    • Ginny D

      Hello Jeffrey,
      I totally agree with 80% of employees self-reporting they are not engaged. I also wholeheartedly agree that it’s BECAUSE 80% of managers are ill suited to effectively manage people. I believe that, in and of itself, is the root of all evil that takes place in companies today. I find it difficult to understand why managers are made managers when they do not know how to talk to their employees without condescending to them, and worse yet, they do it in public.
      I believe the “power” associated with being considered a “manager” goes to too many people’s heads. That alone would indicate they are not suitable for managing people from the get go.
      Thank you for this informative article.

  • Hello Jeffrey,

    “HR data analysis is/will be the next big trend of the future.”

    HR data analysis has been a big thing for many employers who use it to make careful and effective hiring decisions. And, it helps to manage employees effectively.

    • Hey Robert,

      Good point. Though it may be commonly used, companies are not looking into more ways to obtain and measure data. You don’t have to look further than the company I represent in order to see that there are a lot of valuable metrics out there that will make workplaces better.

      If I could piggyback off your point, not only should data be brought into the hiring process, but the company’s brand needs to be transparent and out there. The better the company brand is to identify, the easier it is for them to hire a cultural fit and bring in the right kind of employee.

      – Jeff

      • Jeff, we come employee engagement differently, i.e., hire employees who are predisposed to be engaged if managed well, reward them, fairly and be sure to challenge them as they deem necessary.

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