"Like Toby on NBC’s The Office, HR continues to have a bad name in the eyes of business units, managers and employees. Often viewed as either enforcers, legal risk mitigators or transactors, the human resources department is not the first place business leaders turn to for advice and guidance in meeting strategic goals and objectives. They are generally perceived to lack basic business acumen (root cause analysis, business case skills, comparative analytics, etc.) despite years of trying to shift internal and external perception. I believe this is a make-or-break year for HR. If consistent, demonstrable examples of strategic value add do not break the glass ceiling in 2008, we will see the continued absorption of HR responsibilities into legal, finance, IT and outsourced service providers, effectively resurrecting the “personnel department” of old."
The HR function has been under increasing scrutiny in recent years, typified by the now-infamous 2005 Fast Company article "Why We Hate HR", by Keith Hammonds. Stelzner does hit upon a very important point that HR strategy is becoming a core competency that is needed by managers in all corporate departments. Any successful business manager today should have a solid grounding in HR skills when managing talent, in addition to a degree of understanding of finance to allocate and determine budget for his/her area, and some understanding on the IT needs of his/her function. Hence, "HR strategy" is not something that is silo-ed into a single HR department, but is pervasive across an organization’s management. The HR department should be the driver and facilitator of sound HR practice across the management team, and ensure these HR practices are aligned with their organizations’ strategic goals. By demonstrating this alignment between solid HR and business performance (i.e. linking customer metrics with employee performance), HR will regain it’s "seat at the table" when corporate decisions are made. Moreover, with many businesses undergoing complex change with outsourcing, globalization and this predicted economic downturn, the role of HR has never been so important as it is today (I outlined the role HR needs to play in a company’s outsourcing environment in this article for the IAOP earlier this year).
‘ ……not yet free to have a seat at the table