It is a non-standard question, isn’t it? Most similar sentences have a subject other than HR inserted at the end– usually water, coal or another precious resource; a resource that has proven to be invaluable and close to extinction. After all, what has HR done for the world to care about it? It is just another profession and a non P&L one at that.
HR has always had its share of misfortunes. To begin with, it rarely features in the list of aspirational jobs. I have never come across a child say – I want to be an HR professional when I grow up. In fact, come to think of it, I’ve never heard someone say that as a teenager either. For most people I know, HR is a profession they stumbled into by elimination rather than by choice. To add to it, we don’t have the best reputation. When I look back and ask myself what has HR given the world, I often come up with some of the crappiest systems that exist. Selection, onboarding, performance management, compensation, exit experience – name it and the process comes with decades of brickbats. What has HR done about it? I have no clue. So tell me, why should people care about HR? Make your case.
It is true that the profession receives a lot of flak and little air time. HR professionals have to claw for every bit of resource they get. Yet, hasn’t every profession had to earn its worth? The age-old story about HR being neglected doesn’t sell anymore. There are organizations where the profession holds an important place, gets a seat at the table (yes, I used the taboo phrase) and has plenty of resources at its disposal. What is different about these select few organizations that isn’t replicated across? Well, the answer is rather simple. They earned it. Therefore, it can be done. It isn’t impossible or utopian.
So I write this for you, you highly motivated HR professional. If you’ve come all the way to read this piece, you must be one of the few motivated souls who still believe in the professional and rightly so. It has the potential to revolutionize the way people perceive work. All it really needs to do is stop asking for resources and attention, get off its ass and work some magic. After all, don’t we love stories where people fought all odds and emerged victorious? Let me tell you what the world will look like if HR cared enough. We’d solve problems before they emerged. The workplace would have never reached a stage where employees (including self) dealt with extreme stress. Wellness would not have to be a trend; it would have been a natural part of work-life. Performance would always have been on going and employee experience would always have been a priority.
The world would indeed look at HR differently because we’d have made a difference. We’d be pretty good at cleaning up messes and we probably won’t spend as much time condemning our own profession.
No, the question is not – what if people cared about HR. The real question is – What if HR professionals cared enough about HR?
P.S: This post was first published here.