The Future of Human Resources
Companies seem to be following two paths when it comes to their HR departments and functions. The first path is toward greater outsourcing and automation. The second path is almost the opposite – toward reintegration of HR and management, with managers taking a more active role in employee development.
The first type – companies that seek to outsource HR functions – are commonly small businesses, although not always. Outside businesses such as Application Service Providers (ASPs) or Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs) offer HR services.
ASPs are companies that provide and host software applications that handle traditional HR tasks. These tasks can include generating job application forms, receiving and processing job applications (sometimes making an initial “cut” based on algorithms), employee training, reviews, and payroll and benefits, among others. PEOs are a bit trickier. They should be businesses that actually, legally, partner with the company and take on the legal responsibilities associated with employment. A true PEO should take on the risks associated with, for example, wage and hour lawsuits. It handles your employees while you handle the rest of the business – production, customers, clients, etc. But – companies using a PEO should carefully review their credentials and make sure the agreement provides for the PEO’s legal responsibility for employees. Some companies pretend to be something they’re not.
There are other services, mostly e-services, that are available to employers who don’t have the means or the desire to hire an HR manager or department.
The second set of employers are taking HR in a very different direction. Rather than further separate HR from the “core” of the business, these employers are re-integrating HR and management. Many savvy managers have come to realize that hiring, training, and retaining the right talent are management issues. And for companies where maintaining a certain corporate culture is important, greater management involvement in “HR issues” may be essential. As companies seek to find the right “fit” for the business, they increasingly realize that they need to take a more active role, not only as mentors, but from the beginning of an employee’s development. Of course, in companies like these, HR employees may feel they are struggling to maintain their traditional role.
In short, HR is evolving, but it appears to be evolving in two main directions – one to further detach HR functions from “business” functions, and the other to integrate HR’s role into the core of the business.
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