January 10, 2014

4 Areas that Keep HR up at Night

young man in bedOh HR, the beloved human resources department. Many debates have accumulated on whether or not companies really benefit from having this particular group of people.

Some people say “no,” let’s do away with HR. Case in point, Bernard Marr’s article, “Why We No Longer Need HR Departments.” He offers some pretty compelling reasons for why a company’s HR department should get the boot. Most notably (to me) he says:

Another issue is that HR departments are trying to serve two masters – which, in most cases, is not very successful. On the one hand, they are there to provide support for the employees and, on the other hand, they are there for the company and the senior management to help manage (and monitor, discipline, appraise, etc.) employees. This conflict of interest can cause friction and in many instances HR departments swing to the ‘support the company’ side, rather than the ‘support the employees’ side.

To this I strongly agree. Many employees don’t know whether to respect or fear HR. Is this department an employee’s friend or enemy? A perfect example of this is when one of my family members wanted to file a complaint against his supervisor. HR is supposed to handle worker complaints, but he feared the department would just be loyal to the manager (who had a much longer tenure than my family member) and believe and support her defense rather than his claims.

Marr also points out how many companies truly “do away” with their departments by outsourcing. He writes:

I have recently seen a number of companies that shut their HR departments down completely; outsourced the function or reduced it to a minimum. The reason they have done it, and not suffered any significant throw-back, is because HR wasn’t delivering any real value.

But not everyone is against dumping HR. Josh Bersin of Bersin by Deloitte says, “…human resources professionals solve some of the most important problems in business today… In fact I’d venture to say that there isn’t a highly successful company in the world that does not have some form of world-class HR program in place.”

With all the back-and-forth over this department’s future, you’d think human resources professionals would lose sleep over their fate. But, surprisingly, this isn’t the case.

According to a recent report from SilkRoad, “What Keeps HR Up At Night?,” the two biggest areas that “haunt” HR reps are recruiting and performance. The report believes this is so because HR professionals desire to “cement first impressions with employees.”

More specifically, the top four areas that HR said keeps its workers up at night are:

  • Creating an attractive organizational culture to engage employees (53%)
  • Sourcing the right candidates for the company (51%)
  • Attract and recruit the best talent (41%)
  • Developing leaders and managing skills gaps (45%)

Each of the four is detrimental to an organization’s success, which is ultimately a reflection of its HR department (according to Bersin’s philosophy). How so?


Company culture is extremely important to top talent. Most employees don’t’ desire to just work for any company; they seek a great fit. The same is true for employers. So, HR creating an attractive organizational culture will help harness more talent while simultaneously engaging current employees. And we all know what that means: A happy worker equals a productive company.

Sourcing the right candidates and attracting and recruiting the best talent go hand-in-hand. An organization’s success depends on the abilities of its workers. Bringing in the best talent is crucial for a productive, innovative and forward-moving company.

Developing leaders and managing skills gaps are also extremely important for success. If an HR department has the ability to invest in workers, training and educating them so that they’re always growing and enhancing their skills, the workers themselves as well as the overall productivity of the organization benefit. And skills gaps are a huge issue in today’s recruitment process. Having an HR team that’s dedicated to reducing this problem will only result in a much stronger and efficient workforce.

I think HR has its priorities straight to be more concerned with the key areas of success in a company than its longevity.

But, if what Bersin claims is true, and a company’s success is dependent upon its HR department producing in certain areas, maybe I’ve gotten wrong? Perhaps there really is a hidden underlying issue keeping HR professionals up at night?

Read more in HR

Marks’ stories have also been published in a variety of newspaper, magazine and online formats including The Arizona Republic, The Daily Herald, Arizona Foothills Magazine and various classroom magazines of Scholastic Inc. Service is her passion, writing is her platform and uplifting and inspiring the community is her purpose. Marks received a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication from Arizona State University.
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