There's No Such Thing as a Company Without HR

Brian Kreissl’s recent article “When non-HR professionals do HR work” published on HRReporter.com is an insightful and timely look at a very old, but not widely-known, organizational truth: there’s no such thing as a company without HR.

HR is not the output of a department called HR, nor is it the product of people who have job titles that say HR in them. Rather, HR is at the foundation of an organization. It doesn’t disappear because it lacks a label. In other words: while organizations can have “no HR people,” and “no HR department,” they cannot have “no HR.”

Kreissl and I agree: cutting costs by bleeding HR budgets is simply bad strategy. Why? Because, again, HR isn’t a department or a person. It’s built into the organization itself. And so the tasks and responsibilities of HR don’t go away when HR budgets are cut. They’re merely shoveled off to people who almost without exception don’t know how to do it, don’t want to do it, and do a bad job of it when the finally forced to face it.

And the consequence? Unproductive, disengaged  employees who end up costing an organization instead of moving it ahead. And we’re not just talking about one bad apple here. We’re talking the entire organizational workforce. So it’s more like a bad apple orchard.

Krissel’s bottom line is one that I echo as well: if non-HR professional are going to be tasked with performing HR functions, then it’s essential that they get the support and training they need from outside the organization. Not just for their sake or their employees’. But for the success of the organization as a whole.

2 thoughts on “There's No Such Thing as a Company Without HR”

  1. This is very insightful point and one that more companies should pay attention to. I’ve experienced more situations that I care to remember where the HR function was ‘given’ (not with a smile, either) to someone in Admin, or Operations, or Sales, or whatever.

    In fact, I’ve seen situations where individuals units/departments fashioned their own kind of ad-hoc HR department, like little city states all doing their own hiring, training, firing — and ALL of them breaking just about every HR rule and piece of legislation you can imagine.

    Unfortunately, it usually takes a lawsuit for these kinds of companies to wake up and realize that HR isn’t an option, nor is it safe to hand it off to someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.

    Again great insights — in fact, the insights are better than the article they cover.

  2. This is very insightful point and one that more companies should pay attention to. I’ve experienced more situations that I care to remember where the HR function was ‘given’ (not with a smile, either) to someone in Admin, or Operations, or Sales, or whatever.

    In fact, I’ve seen situations where individuals units/departments fashioned their own kind of ad-hoc HR department, like little city states all doing their own hiring, training, firing — and ALL of them breaking just about every HR rule and piece of legislation you can imagine.

    Unfortunately, it usually takes a lawsuit for these kinds of companies to wake up and realize that HR isn’t an option, nor is it safe to hand it off to someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.

    Again great insights — in fact, the insights are better than the article they cover.

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