In a previous post I shared some reasons I thought HR was taken so negatively. What I didn’t realize, was the number of people, who would tell me that the function itself should be eliminated and HR professionals should be replaced with HCM software.

I agree. A lot of what we believe HR is about, well it isn’t anymore. It used to be about a lot of data maintenance and paperwork. We took care of that and created HRISs and went digital. Then it was about culture building and creating happier, more productive work places. That’s still there. But the responsibility for that lies with the people who are handling it in real time – the managers, the teams, an executive body.  Basically, every employee. So that’s off the list. Oh just for the sake of this discussion – don’t take it so personally.

Then there was the age of learning. HR was responsible for making the organization learn. Well, it is no longer a generic thing. It is a specialized area and that became a new organism – a department of its own.

What are we left with then, and is everyone right? We don’t need them (Us sweetpeas!) anymore?! I say we do. Now more than ever.

But not with the skill sets they had before. We need them trained and geared to be:

Statisticians, analysts, business intelligence experts who can convert data into meaningful decisions.

Technical experts who understand the possibilities that advancement in technology offer.

UI designers, enterprise application designers who can visualize what the internal customer needs, the flow of the information, its relevance and impact.

Finance experts who can deal with the complexity of investing – in compensation plans (equity, bonuses, tax and benefits), engagement, development.

Consultants who can develop detailed plans to smooth out mergers and acquisitions and the ever-changing organizational structures and dynamics.

Strategists to understand markets and talent pools and set the direction for future talent acquisition.

Legal experts dealing with compliance for the variety of employment variables that exist now.

Global mobility experts who understand how borders change human variables.

Project management, quality control, social media, communication are some of the areas where new roles in HR demand experience and training.

A degree in organizational behavior alone is no longer enough. They are not just kind strangers who will listen to employees about how something at work makes them sad or stressed. They are trained counselors and coaches who can take you through to long term solutions. They are and should understand the business they work with and be able to offer relevant advice and solutions through training and exposure. What works in a bank may not work in an IT company. It is not the same job even if it is the same title.

Even in the old roles, they have evolved. PMS for example. HR professionals are responsible for the new methods in which we approach this concept which always existed but changed form so often. They have been able to analyze the flaws of the previous systems and come up with more effective approaches. Ideas of continuous performance management have also given rise to technology that allows this to be possible. It’s a cycle.

So we don’t need to remove them, we just need to change what we look for in them. As for those of us in the field, we need to up our game.