Sunday, 6 March 2011

HR: The Invisible Men

Upon being told that President Calvin Coolidge had just died, Dorothy Parker (American poet, wit and satirist) responded, “How can they tell?”

Sadly, I fear that the same words could be applied to the HR Profession unless something changes pretty soon.

Over recent months, the pages of the national press have been filled with the debate and moral outrage over the excesses of the bonuses paid within the UK banking system. Yet the contribution from the HR community has been practically non-existent.

Comment on the situation from either individual HR Directors within the banking sector (and here’s a challenge: name one!) or the CIPD has been less than negligible. The profession seems to be increasingly populated by Invisible (and Inaudible) Men.

Call me old-fashioned, but I thought that reward and recognition was part of HR’s remit?

Or perhaps the HR function is simply aiming to outsource any activity beginning with the letter R. Recruitment: pass it to a third party; Redundancy: we’ll get an outplacement consultancy to manage that; Reward and Recognition: that’s something for the Remuneration Committee.

At this rate, HR will resemble the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland:

This time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.

“Well! I’ve often seen a cat without a grin,” thought Alice; “but a grin without a cat! It’s the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!” 

Dear HR colleagues: there one thing beginning with R that can’t be outsourced: Responsibility. It’s time to take it and make the profession’s views heard. Failure to do so is to risk allegations of irrelevance.

And we don’t want that, do we?