For those of you who like a sinister conspiracy theory, here is a
challenging one – soon there will be no HR.
The theory runs as follows: the economic downturn turns into a recession,
and more and more CEOs examine ways to cut costs significantly.
They assess which of their organisation’s divisions contribute to the bottom
line, and the most vulnerable are those that do not seem to add value. HR comes
top of the list.
Before you can say ‘business process re-engineering’, they outsource all the
back office HR functions to a low-cost third-party provider. Then all HR
policies and transactions are e-enabled on the company intranet.
Line managers start dealing with the routine HR stuff online, as do
employees through a self-service model.
Within a year or so, following an effective roll-out programme, all business
divisions become self-policing and self-serving when it comes to employee
So what does in-house HR do now? Well, nothing. It doesn’t exist any more –
if you exclude a few senior management figures who focus on strategic HR.
As conspiracy theories go, it is pretty scary for the profession. But how
far-fetched is it? It will remain fanciful as long as HR starts to effectively
measure its often-significant contribution and sells it to the rest of the
As the strategic HR management conference last week shows the more
progressive HR teams are embracing the balanced scorecard approach to
demonstrate their output.
But there are hurdles to be overcome. A number of the existing models that
attempt to link HR with business performance are superficial and unlikely to
HR metrics need to be well thought out, aligned to the business strategy and
easily digestible for everyone else. And they need to be at the top of the
agenda if a rosy future for the profession is to be guaranteed.
By Mike Broad