Finding the fire in HR (Editorial)

By John Hobel
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 12/10/2003

If you want to be strategic, you can’t be afraid to rock the boat. For HR professionals who want to play a larger role in the business, this means opening up communication about issues affecting human capital management. That’s why

Canadian HR Reporter

is launching an expanded Insight Section — providing a forum for airing views, sharing concerns and debating topics.

Having witnessed colleagues at other Canadian HR publications send out the call — make that plea — for letters from HR practitioners, I’ve wondered if members of the profession are inclined to chime in with their views. I’ve also heard from people at HR associations that member input is often scant.

Why the silence?

I put the question to an HR VP who often serves as a personal sounding board. The suggestion that HR professionals are reluctant to speak out disturbed her. It’s not the way she wants the profession viewed. She sees open dialogue on issues as essential to strategic HR and a stronger HR presence in Canada’s boardrooms. If HR wants to be on the senior team, she declares, its members had better get comfortable with having their say publicly. Being timid isn’t a behaviour that bespeaks executive success.

Furthermore, what’s the point of striving to be part of the senior team if you don’t have much to say when you get there? Surely the goal of advancing the profession is not solely to put select individuals into better paying jobs. Rather it’s to ensure that sound HR practices enable organizations to make the most of their people, while retaining them.

While senior leaders may complain their HR colleagues need stronger business acumen, it is also true that those same leaders need better HR advice to counter short-term thinking that imperils long-term success.

HR is evolving, and it’s an exciting time to be working in, and writing about, human resources.

The issues facing HR are numerous and complex.

How does one add value to an organization in a way that shows the senior team that HR can be a business partner? How is influence achieved?

What does an HR practitioner do when it’s clear the CEO is more interested in scoring a stock option bonanza, than investing in process improvement or leadership development?

What about the HR function itself? Outsourcing administrative and even strategic HR roles is a hot topic. But is HR outsourcing a good idea for an organization? What effect will it have on HR careers?

And what about employee advocacy? Should it be a part of HR’s calling or is it an impediment to joining the senior team? What about “doing more with less,” and all those disturbing employee stress statistics that researchers keep releasing?

There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to HR. We invite you to use these Insight pages to join the conversation.

Here’s what you can expect in coming issues: Should firms communicate with employees using the same PR spin they use on the media? What do HR practitioners think about working for an HR outsourcing firm? What’s a bank president’s take on Canada’s leadership pool? Is ethics an issue when recruiting foreign health workers? What’s your local HR association up to?

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