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Who really needs HR?

We all have an emotional tie to certain words. Think about it... when you hear "pumpkin pie" you may think of Thanksgiving dinners and feel thankful, frustrated, or maybe anxious. When you hear "children" you may feel joy, frustration, or agony.

How about when you hear "human resources". Do you feel partnership, support, or hurt? Maybe a combination? Or something else entirely. Regardless of what you feel, I would wager that something comes up for you.

In many organizations human resources has evolved from "personnel", but is still thought of as the cops of the organization. Or the party planners. But that is changing and continues to evolve. In a certain percentage of organizations, HR is a true partner to the business; a collaborator to ensure that people programs are aligned to the support the direction of the organization. Unfortunately, this is still a small percentage, especially within the construction industry. But it can change, and you have the power to do so.

But don't we still need the cops?

You may be thinking that you need HR to ensure that the policies are written and followed. I ask you this: why does this need to be HR? If the policies are there to support the health of the organization, then all employees within the organization have a responsibility to uphold them, not just one department. Build a culture of accountability at all levels to alleviate that burden from HR.

But, honestly can HR really be a partner?

The short answer is: yes, they sure can. That said, in order for HR to be a partner within the organization, you need two things:

  1. A clear expectation that the people in those roles act as partners. This goes not just for the HR employees, but (almost more importantly) for everyone else around them. It must be clear that the HR folks are a partner and not to be delegated the planning for the upcoming holiday party.

  2. Employees with the ability to be a partner. Some people enjoy setting and upholding the rules, or the status quo. That's great and there is nothing wrong with that, but those aren't necessarily the people you want in a partner. It is a different skillset. I have seen some individuals be able to evolve into the new expectations, but more often that not, they struggle with the new role. You may need to make a tough decision.

But I can't get over that HR is there as a cop.

If that is the case, stop beating your head against the wall (you'll only end up with a headache and a hole to patch up). Instead, think about changing the name, this changes the emotional tie to the words. Here are just a few options:

  • People Practices

  • People Operations

  • Employee Experience

  • Human Capital Management

  • People Resources

  • Employee Success

  • Partner Support

Whether you feel angst, joy, or fear when you think of human resources, you have the ability to change that. You can elevate the role, ensure you have the right talent, or change the name (along with the expectation). The choice is yours.


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