There has been much talk of late of HR having a role as a ‘business partner’, as though the function could have any real impact on organisational decision making.
Get real. HR’s role in most private sector firms as a ‘business partner’ is to do whatever those at the top deem necessary. And any HR star who has ambitions beyond this, undoubtedly already works in the public sector – or will do so in the very near future.
This reality was ably demonstrated by your front-page story (Personnel Today, 8 August/15 August) on how City firms have ‘vowed to tackle the bully menace’ – a typical bit of PR puff from spin City if ever therewas one.
City firms show little interest in tackling the very behaviour they believe generates the best results – ie, the most cash – and bullying seems to work with the majority of ‘City types’. Obviously, this is helped by the fact that these City types are not driven by anything other than money and would sell shares in their granny if that’s what was required to keep the readies flowing.
Anyone in HR in a City institution knows this and spends half their time helping to cover up any misdemeanours before building a professional-looking wall of silence. And, in the City at least, that is the extent of HR’s ‘business partner’ role – buying enough time so the company can deliver a suitably bulky brown envelope to secure a buttoned lip.
Bullying is rife in the City. The idea that the City will ‘no longer pay lip service to this hidden menace’ misses the point entirely, as the City will pay whatever it takes to ensure it doesn’t get caught out too often. When it does, paying out a few hundred thousand pounds doesn’t seem such a bad trade-off.