My HR holiday wish list

10 things I’d like to see in our stockings this year

Brian Kreissl

By Brian Kreissl

With the holiday season upon us once again, it’s a good time to reflect on current trends and recent developments, and put together a “wish list” for the HR profession.

Because we’ve been so good this year, perhaps Santa will bring us at least some of the items on my list?

My 2011 Holiday wish list for HR:

Seat at the table: For all organizations to finally provide the HR function with the proverbial “seat at the table” alongside the company's most senior executives. While that level of professional respect definitely exists in many organizations, there’s still a way to go before HR is operating at the most strategic levels across the board. And now that we do have a seat at the table in many cases, we’ve got to decide what we’re going to do with it.

Show us the money: For organizations to start putting their money where their mouths are with respect to people issues. If an organization’s people really are its greatest assets, then they need to start showing it.

The doctor isn’t in: For people outside the HR profession to finally start understanding we’re not there to act as therapists or counselors. If an employee comes to us with a problem, we can't act on anything without first conducting a full investigation and hearing all sides of the story.

Understand our role: For people to realize we’re there to help maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of an organization’s human capital. By and large, we’re not there to act as employee advocates, so people need to stop being surprised when we approach an issue from the employer’s perspective.

Don’t shoot the compliance messenger: For senior business leaders to stop thinking we’re too focused on compliance. The ever-increasing legal and regulatory burden placed on employers isn’t our fault, so they need to stop “shooting the messenger.” Ignoring legal risks won’t make them go away. And just because we care about managing and preventing legal risks doesn’t mean we can’t be effective strategists too.

Stop the cuts: For organizations to stop cutting budgets for the types of things that typically engage employees. Then they wonder why employee engagement scores are down in so many companies.

HR isn’t overhead: For organizations to stop thinking of HR as “overhead” and being so keen to downsize or outsource their HR departments – or “downsourcing” HR activities to line managers. We’re aware times have been tough – and HR realizes we have to share in some of the pain – but we shouldn’t have to bear more than our fair share. We can’t continue to do more with less, nor can we keep asking line managers to do so.

So long, ‘touchy-feely’: For that outdated “touchy-feely” stereotype to go away. HR is now seen by many business leaders as a legitimate business discipline as vital as marketing or finance, so it’s time we and others stopped seeing ourselves as the planners of company picnics and started truly seeing ourselves as the strategic business partners we’re capable of being.

Trust us: For more organizations to trust their HR departments to manage such areas as corporate social responsibility, business ethics, whistleblowing, corporate governance, employer branding, and the use of blogging and social media in a business context.

Hire us: For the HR job market to pick up. Because HR was often one of the first departments to experience downsizing when the economy turned sour, and many are still operating with a skeleton staff amid ongoing concerns about the economy, a lot of capable, hard-working HR professionals are still on the shelf. It would be nice to see those people working again — in the types of roles they’re qualified to do.

Seasons Greetings from the Consult Carswell team

Finally, we wish all of our readers and subscribers and their families, as well as colleagues, friends, contributors and business partners a safe, happy, enjoyable holiday season and all the best for 2012. I hope you get what you wish for this Holiday Season and for the coming year.

Brian Kreissl is the managing editor of Consult Carswell. He can be reached at [email protected]. For more information, visit

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