The Website and Blog of HR Author and Speaker Lori Kleiman

HR Is Just a Necessary Evil

When speaking with CEOs, we often hear comments regarding HR that sounds like:

  • HR departments cost money and they spend the day telling managers what they can’t do.
  • HR is responsible for the necessary evils of business.
  • We’d all be happy if HR just stayed in their office and keep employees from complaining all day.
  • What is this nonsense about wanting a seat at the table? There is no table: the management team oversees, accounting pays bills, operations produces products, and marketing sells them.

If this is how you feel, you’re not alone.  These situations are alive and prospering in American business today – but it doesn’t have to be the case.  For some businesses, HR should have only a limited, administrative function. But for many, the right HR team can be transformative, adding value to the top and bottom line of your operation on a daily basis.

Business has evolved, and your human resources function has to keep pace. HR is an expensive department to run, and if you are going to devote resources to a HR department, they have to add value. HR must do more than push paper, enforce rules and remind managers of all the laws to comply with. They cannot just process benefits and ensure payroll is run on time. These functions of human resources can be outsourced quickly and get the whole issue off your plate!

An internal HR executive must have one eye on compliance at all times. However, managers are not interested in HR telling them all the things they can’t do; they want HR to be viewed as problem solvers. While we know HR cannot be a roadblock to success, sometimes HR needs to put the brakes on a decision it feels is just too risky for the organization. The fines for missing even one deadline can push a business into bankruptcy, and ending up on the evening news with your sales manager at a strip club can undo years of effective marketing. You need a human resources manager on your team that will know the culture of the organization, understand the players on the management team and be aware of compliance situations while they are still in development. A senior HR executive will understand the balance of risk and reward in business and be part of the team guiding you to the right decision.

You will always need your HR team to own the operational and administrative functions of the human resources function. Employees still need to be paid, compliance has to occur and benefits must be made available to employees. However, you should be challenging yourself and the HR function to ensure these duties are performed in a cost-effective, goal driven way that meets the needs of the employees and the organization.  Your HR leader should be accountable for constant evaluation and options and bringing strategic value to the organization.

If this is not the value your human resources function brings – consider making a change to the function today!