The Renaissance of HR

Most of the companies we meet and interact with are small businesses.  Most do not have HR execs, and many do not employ basic HR tools such as training, reviews, vacation policies, conduct policies, etc.  And among the Fortune 500, HR has often gotten short shrift and is sometimes viewed with disdain as a “compliance” function.  Case in point, a friend of mine who was a senior exec involved in a recent high profile public company corporate break-up told me the executives in charge of the transaction were negotiating over who would get “stuck” with the HR group.  However, from what I can tell, some organizations, the smarter ones in my opinion, are beginning to rethink the role of what has traditionally been called “human resources” within their organizations.

Progressive companies who value culture, who understand turnover of high performance people is expensive, and those who want to attract and retain the best and brightest are leading the charge.  “HR” can, and should be, much more than a compliance function.  Perhaps its the rise of the millennials, or just common sense in an ever changing global landscape where a great team can mean the difference between success and mediocrity (or failure…).  And like it or not, you cannot build a great team without building a culture that attracts and keeps great teammates.

As an example, I attended a conference at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business last month where the SVP of People at Chobani, Grace Zuncic, participated on a panel.  She discussed their use of modern digital-based tools such as Everwise (mentors outside the company) and Bonusly (peer-to-peer recognition app) in their business.  Grace reports directly to the CEO, and is involved in strategic decisions well outside the realm of traditional “HR” – my point being it would be difficult to assess this role as one of a stuffy compliance only functional head.  Similarly, McDonald’s has both a Chief People Officer and a Chief Talent Officer – neither of whom could be confused with with compliance police, non-strategic folks.

I’m personally excited about this change.  Tools that help asses, attract, train, engage, excite and retain talented people, properly deployed, should help progressive organizations continue to grow and evolve.