When We No Longer Need a Human Resource Department

by Ruth D Schwartz

I hate the term “Human Resources.” Every time I hear it I think, “I am not a Human Resource. I am a human being!”

I am not the only one who feels this way.

A recent top story on LinkedIn was this good (maybe even amazing) article, called, “Why we no longer need HR departments.”

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Much controversy ensued after this post was published-as you can probably imagine, it created a storm of angry and confused HR professionals.

Now don’t misunderstand me. I love and admire HR professionals and happen to be friends with many. I am the first person to recommend a good one when for small business that clearly need the skills of one.

The HR people who got their feathers ruffled by that article misread it as an attack on their work and that it wasn’t important. There was a lot of effort spent explaining what and why they do what they do-which, in a nutshell, is to understand and create compliance between laws and employers.

Thank goodness. Because someone needs to.

The author of the article, Bernard Marr, an analytics and data guy, made the argument that the human resource department is on the side of the employer while masquerading as the defender of the people. And that this department, for the most part, doesn’t deliver value. His recommendation is to create two departments: a people analytics’ team and a people support team to be clearer about the functions within the department.

I understand where he was goes with that, but I think he missed the larger, more powerful point. And that is: People are not a resource. People are the reason.

Imagine this:

  • A world where every person becomes a contributing partner to the organizations they serve.
  • A world where every person is compensated as a contributing partner and the results they create rather than their time served.
  • A world where the need to comply with laws created in the early 20th century to protect employees from employers becomes obsolete.
  • The war between capital and labor disappears.

Please don’t write me off as a communist quite yet-but what if we could create organizations where values become more important than profits and yet everyone within the organization profits?

Using a capitalist model, how about including everyone in disbursements and eliminate the need for employee to employer intervention?

You may think I’m crazy, but that’s OK.

I started practicing the principles of High Performance and Open Book Management in the ’80’s. Thousands of companies are now waking up to the possibility of creating companies they would want to work for as I did.

As those kinds of companies grow, the need for laws protecting themselves will become outdated and laughable.

When you are human and not a human resource it is very easy to be better than those laws. And when that happens, we really won’t need a Human Resource Department.

What could we have instead? A Prosperity and Connection Department? A Leadership and Wealth Department? The Learning and Growth Department?

Tell me what you would rather have and then let’s make it happen. From Silicon Valley to a Detroit Renaissance, thousands of companies are starting to do it their own way, far beyond the jaws of compliance.

The tolerance for soul sucking jobs is ending, one company at a time.

As we decide to be human beings rather than a resource in the machine, everything will change. Work becomes a source of connection. Work is soulful rather than soul sucking. We won’t need to talk about work/life balance anymore. We can just have life in all its humanness without silos of separation and protection.

I am imagining a vast sea of human creativity and prosperity. I say, let’s stop referring to ourselves and our colleagues as resources. When we do, we can get rid of the human resource department and get on with being human.

How about the Humanity Department?

Read Bernard Marr’s article here: http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20131118060732-64875646-why-we-no-longer-need-hr-departments

You are a smart, good and creative person who knows there must be a better way to get all you can from your business and your life. Don’t be a Jerk. Be a leader people admire. Learn more: http://highperformanceadvocates.com/