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Why Do We Even Have Human Resources?

Why Do We Even Have Human Resources?

The modern-day organization has changed significantly over the last fifty years. Changing with the organization has been the workforce as the two’s evolution are inherently interconnected. For example, companies looking to achieve a competitive edge applied data-driven decision making which has created the new role of data scientists, manufacturing lines have been robotized and converted production workers into robotic technicians. This is the natural evolution of the marketplace that inspires talent wars. These trends demand new skills which are rare and unique. Human capital organizations striving to put the right person in the right place at the right time scramble to find available talent to support the organization’s strategic shifts. When that talent becomes scarce, the organization focuses on building that knowledge through learning and development initiatives which typically come to fruition after the need has dissipated. The modern-day human capital organization not positioned to enable the growth of the future organization.

The modern-day organization has changed significantly over the last fifty years. Changing with the organization has been the workforce as the two’s evolution are inherently interconnected. For example, companies looking to achieve a competitive edge applied data-driven decision making which has created the new role of data scientists, manufacturing lines have been robotized and converted production workers into robotic technicians. This is the natural evolution of the marketplace that inspires talent wars. These trends demand new skills which are rare and unique. Human capital organizations striving to put the right person in the right place at the right time scramble to find available talent to support the organization’s strategic shifts. When that talent becomes scarce, the organization focuses on building that knowledge through learning and development initiatives which typically come to fruition after the need has dissipated. The modern-day human capital organization not positioned to enable the growth of the future organization. The history of modern human resources is connected to the laws enacted during the late 1800’s and early 1900s that aimed to protect women and children, established minimum wages, and protected against hazardous conditions. This brought forward the age of personnel managers to shield companies from violating human protections. These functions evolved over time as work conditions transformed where personnel management became human resources and new roles were undertaken. These roles consisted of recruiting and hiring, training, compensation and benefits, labor relations, safety, and numerous other roles to keep the workforce connected to the organization. Over the past twenty-years, human resources have evolved their value proposition again by becoming strategic partners with business leaders by providing the talent to enable future initiatives.

Recent enhancements in technology have increased marketplace complexity which has, in turn, created greater internal organizational ambiguity. To manage ambiguity, typical organizations break projects and functional areas into smaller sections and into repeatable processes to reduce this complexity. As ambiguity grows, manual processes grow until there is a tipping of scales where bureaucracy of process management overtakes dynamic change. Roles can then shift from being strategic human capital partners to process and policy administrators leading to a long-term reduction of organizational value. Once in this role, human resources will no longer have a seat at the table to help shape strategy or enable it through personnel development.

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