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Sunday, December 16, 2018

Human Resources in the 21st Century?

When I started working as a teenager in the mid-70's, we still used:

  • landline phones
  • typewriters
  • carbon copies in those typewriters
Not to mention that this job was in a bank, where everyone came when they needed cash out of their checking accounts - no ATM's yet, either. And we were only open 10am to 5pm, Monday through Friday.

My how times have changed.

My observations is that the majority of changes in the workplace have come about due to advances in technology. Though I show my age here, I distinctly remember those early computer science courses on mainframe computers, my first bulky cell phone in 1999, and how I bought a copier that doubled as my computer printer at Costco for my home office. Compare all those old-school, pre-2000 changes with a video call with my laptop and bluetooth earbuds that I had last week with clients in Bosnia and Thailand. It's all I can do to keep up, but it's pretty cool all the same.

That being said, I am surprised at how much has not really changed when it comes to the people part of the workplace. Interoffice politics rage on, interpersonal conflicts continue unabated, and most clients I talk to are at a loss as to who to talk to about it when they are impacted. And while some companies have robust policies and company handbooks and HR departments pursuing 110% compliance, many other companies outsource much of their HR and "hot potato" the rest. 

I have come across three interesting links this week that speak to HR, or the lack thereof. Perhaps one of them scratch where you itch?

Here's Who You Can Turn to When You Can't Count on HR (or Your Boss). I liked this article because it captures the quandary many of my clients experience, though it's a bit more negative than what I see. It's not always that they cannot count on their boss, but that their boss is as stumped as they are as to how to turn things around. Fast forward to the "external experts" section of this article for a description of what I do....

How to Hire the Right Person (NYTimes Hiring Guide). I was really impressed by this resource. If, like some companies, the whole recruiting / interviewing / onboarding game is divided up among several of you, this might be truly helpful. Check it.

Why your HR Officer is Leaving. Keep in mind that this comes from the Chronicle of Higher Education and speaks directly to HR in the world of academia. But when I read it to an executive leader for a company I have worked with, she agreed immediately with all of the points that were made. Again, I think that we have to think long and hard about what we need HR to do and make it a priority. I think this article states it well:
I am concerned, but not all that surprised, by this new level of frustration and anxiety. While I happen to think it is an exciting time to work in a role that can influence cultural transformation, I appreciate that the work feels harder than ever. But it is important work. And while the #MeToo movement, the demands for pay transparency, and the discoveries of previously suppressed misconduct can be embarrassing for organizations and challenging to manage, it feels like — as a nation — we are finally engaged in important conversations about our most important values.

Let me know what HR looks like in your workplace ~ I'm super interested! Send me emails at As always, thanks for reading.

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