Why We Still Need Human Resources

Julie Shenkman
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Human resources management is expensive and complicated. Special policies have to be developed, you have to recruit a team of full-time professionals with human resources certification, office space has to be allocated, and the human resources management team's own needs will all have to be addressed before the system works. This investment is going to be made in a large segment of your company's workforce without any hope of a direct return in the form of increased sales. It's also true that many HR jobs can now be outsourced or automated for a fraction of the cost. So why do it? What are the advantages of maintaining a full-time human resources management group in house? Well, there are several advantages, actually.

One major reason human resources management is still a thriving career option is the ability of HR professionals to specialize. Specialization in this context refers to multiple related concepts. Human resources management workers tend to have specialized human resources certification, which a contract worker might not have. An HR specialist can be trusted to understand concepts and applications unique to the field that no software, however smart, will be able to fully replicate. Specialization can also mean the worker's ability to know company policy along with the quirks and special needs of individual employees as well as how to integrate the employees' needs—a request for vacation time, for example—with the workflow management needs.

In that vein, a thriving human resources management culture contributes a great deal of flexibility to your office. In the event of a change in policy—perhaps the company's flex-time program is not working out—the ability of an in-house HR team to cushion the blow, or even suggest alternatives to the program, can ease the transition and make employees feel they're being treated fairly. The human resources management team is also well positioned to generate new ideas for better organizational structures and work processes.

Another huge advantage to maintaining an active human resources management department is a fusion of flexibility and specialization. Keeping HR staff on hand puts the management equivalent of a fine tuner in the hands of management. Without the critical go-between services of HR, management's directives and demands from the workforce will always be blunt instruments. Large policy shifts will happen with little or no notice, management will miss feedback from harried employees, and workers will have no recourse but to form a union and start making demands in order to have a voice. Competent human resources management planes the rough edges off the office culture, making it much easier to communicate ideas and needs up and down the chain of command.

While it's true that many HR jobs can now be done automatically, as with time tracking and allocation of sick leave, it's still in your company's interest to operate a fully staffed human resources management department. There are just too many advantages and too few drawbacks to neglect the load-bearing structure of human resources.


(Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net)


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