Those who would call HR a fad (editorial)

By John Hobel
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 03/16/2001

While saying it doesn’t make it so, more and more value is being placed on the notion of strategic HR. Senior executives are beginning to expound upon the advantages of having the head of HR join the senior team — if only they could find someone qualified.

Human resources associations and academics will agree the climate exists for a movement of the profession into the upper ranks — those who play this role today are certainly in the minority — and are working to develop practitioners able to meet this need.

Strategic HR is the end of an evolutionary process that began with administrative tasks carried out by a personnel department and has grown into the application of management and organizational effectiveness practices that improve productivity and the bottom line. The ongoing skills shortage is certainly one reason HR is getting the opportunity to prove itself by showing the department can add value to corporate operations.

Recruitment and retention has become a hot topic for all employers — from finding qualified tradespeople and health-care professionals to IT and management staff to HR practitioners themselves — it seems members of every occupation are in short supply. Hence the preoccupation with staffing and best employer practices in HR fields, such as benefits, wellness, career development and recognition, that can have a positive effect on recruitment and retention efforts.

But will the bubble burst? Skeptics of HR’s ability to carve out a permanent role on the senior management team say that once the business climate changes and talent is no longer in short supply, the importance of the HR function will fade, and with it the opportunity to achieve senior executive status.

Leaving aside projections of whether the skills shortage will still be in an issue in five, 10 or 20 years, the advantages of applying sound HR strategies to the recruitment and deployment of top performers is hardly a fad that will subside if, and when, labour is easy to find.

Value-added HR means finding the best people, putting an end to turnover rates that see time and money wasted on recruitment, training and filling in for absent co-workers, and organizing work and structures to make the best use of talent. Skills shortage or no skills shortage, these HR contributions can give any organization an edge over competitors. In fact, if a competitor fails to see the advantages of being an employer of choice it makes the job of taking their market share that much easier.

Strategic HR isn’t a fad in times of labour scarcity, it’s the implementation of people practices that improve the bottom line in any business climate.

Add Comment

  • *
  • *
  • *
  • *