If Not Us, Who? If Not Now, When?

IT and technological changes are not the wave of the future, they are the drivers of our current, present state and will continue to influence how we all work on a day-to-day basis.  This is most evident in the re-shaping of tactical Human Resource functions that can (and should be!) done more efficiently and effectively by automated systems.  Tactical functions include things like payroll processes and attendance tracking which are typically reliant on high volume effort but have very low value result.  It does not mean that these types of functions are not necessary; It does mean that a human person does not necessarily need to do them.

C3PO and R2D2 with caption "Don't technical with me"

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Does this mean we, as HR Professionals, should be concerned about our careers?

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If the only value an HR department brings to an organization is one that is based on pushing processes then, of course, our positions will disappear.  However, HR should be, and is, much more than just the process pushers or the compliance police.

We need to move out of tactics and into ensuring organizational transformation through strategic leadership and people management.  The value that HR brings to any organization must be measured through strategic outcomes and big picture deliverables.  HR is the wave of the future that must lead organizations by focusing on ethical stewardship and corporate social responsibility.

So let’s not worry about losing those low value tactical functions.  This will gives us, as HR Professionals, more opportunity to build valuable organizational strength through powerful creativity and passion for the Human Resources profession.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Identify the differences in value between tactical and strategic HR functions.
  2. What does Corporate Social Responsibility mean to you?
  3. In your current work environment, identify three processes that should be automated through the use of technology and the resulting impact of those changes.
  4. Identify three specific strategic functions that HR should be doing in order to be perceived as bringing value to the organization.

 

HR Lessons Learned – Downsizing

It seems that employer insensitivity knows no international boundaries.  In August of 2015, employees of the Australian company Hutchison Ports, received notices that they were losing their jobs first by SMS text,  followed by an e-mail confirming their job loss.  To make matters worse, the messages were sent at 11:30pm directly to affected employees.

Not surprisingly, reaction to this approach by the employer was swift and viral.

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Clearly, the human element was not evident in the implementation of this downsizing plan.  No matter what difficult decisions are made by senior executives we, as HR Professionals, must ensure that these decisions include consideration for the dignity and respect of all employees.

The approach by Hutchison Ports created a huge backlash that continues to impact the organization’s international reputation and their profitability.  Rather than having to clear up the reputational mess that they find themselves in after the fact, it might have been better for Hutchison Ports to allocate a more time towards their communication strategy up front.

And, it might have been helpful to spend  a few minutes reflecting upon the humans involved before someone hit ‘send’ in the middle of the night.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What advice would you, as the HR practitioner, have given to the CEO of Hutchison Ports?
  2. What would you do if you received a notice, via text, that your employment was terminated?
  3. Identify two or three practical HR initiatives that employees should have had access to in this case.
  4. Identify three alternative approaches the employer could have used to communicate with employees about downsizing.