Are the Days of HR Numbered?

Gina Deveney
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Human resources looks a lot different than it did a generation ago. Companies now use complex software systems with algorithms to sort and track job applications. Changing hierarchical and management systems means that HR responsibilities are often shared throughout an organization. However, these HR changes do not mean that HR's days are numbered. Instead, there are still many opportunities for human resources workers to make a difference in their organizations.

Recruitment and hiring changes are probably the biggest HR changes that the industry has experienced. Job ads are now nearly all online, and many companies have automated application systems which require job seekers to fill out forms and upload resumes. The old piece of job-hunting advice that suggests a job seeker might have a better chance of getting hired if he calls the HR manager directly is completely outdated. Most job ads state "no calls," and a HR director who receives an unsolicited phone call is more likely to cross the job candidate off the list than invite the candidate in for an interview.

However, just because the hiring process has shifted online does not mean that HR professionals are losing the ability to do their jobs. Software programs that track job applications and scan them for relevant keywords give HR professionals more time to focus on the important parts of hiring, such as conducting interviews, while eliminating much of the busywork involved in sorting and organizing hundreds of resumes.

Other HR changes include an increased focus on employee benefits, including healthcare management, 401(k) retirement plans and company-specific benefits such as gym membership discounts or parking pass vouchers. Talented HR professionals know how to help employees get the most out of these benefits, as well as how to choose benefits that motivate employees to remain happy and productive.

Companies that use flat organizational structures or operate from a consensus-based management style often put emphasis on working together as a unified group. In these organizations, hiring is sometimes performed by the entire group rather than by a single HR department, and employee benefit decisions are made in similar ways.

This, however, does not mean that HR's days are numbered. HR's strengths are in understanding how people function together, which is the essential reason why HR is important. Even a flat organization needs people with skills in conflict management, employee motivation and professional development, which is where HR departments truly shine.

Forbes lists several additional HR changes, including an increased focus on data analysis as well as a commitment to big-picture thinking. HR professionals see the workforce on an individual level but also understand how employees work together to help a company achieve its goals. HR changes allow human resources managers to manage both the big picture and the individual worker's needs simultaneously.

HR changes are reshaping the industry but are in no way eliminating it. Successful HR professionals need to understand these changes, learn how to work with new software systems and management trends, and understand that their biggest strength lies right in their job title. Human resources professionals know how to work with humans and how to help people do their best work for a company, which means that HR professionals will always be valued.

Photo courtesy of basketman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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