Is HR boring or cool?
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Is HR boring or cool?

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Is HR boring or cool?

July 20, 2015 Geoffroy De Lestrange

It seems obvious to say that life is too short for the wrong job, and I already wrote on the role HR had to play to help make everyone's job interesting in their companies. Today, I'd like to focus more on the job of Human Resources as such.

When talking about typical job descriptions, HR isn't the one that is first associated with the word "cool". You'd think about other positions such as design, publicist, PR, or in the engineering world R&D, product development... On the other hand, when you ask HR professionals for the reasons of their career path, you often hear them mention the human aspect of the work and the interaction with colleagues, which indeed sounds cool.

Yet we all know that a significant part of HR work concerns administrative tasks, which seems to be extremely boring. This is even truer in some countries where labour laws are very complex, such as France or Germany for example. As we analysed in this survey on talent management within French companies (in French), local HRDs complain that they do not spend enough time in managing talents, compared to legal and administrative work.

So the question is: how can HR focus more on cool tasks, and advertise for their true value added for the company? Indeed, in some ways you can compare HR and IT: usually, nobody talks about IT support when everything goes well. But if you have the slightest trouble with your laptop, you'll complain loudly and bother your IT colleagues until they fix the problem. It's exactly the same with HR administrative tasks: you expect your salary to be paid on time, and the information on your salary slip to be accurate. Yet if you find the slightest discrepancy, you'll run to HR until you know what happened. This is indeed completely normal, but you'll agree that this is by far not the most strategic HR task you could imagine, nor the most fascinating from an HR point of view...

"Cool" doesn't mean "entertaining" either! Of course, it's nice to organise the Christmas party, or any other internal event at a company or office level. It's even an important part of socialising within the company, and shouldn't be underestimated as such activities are a way to communicate around the company culture. Yet HR role should not be reduced to internal communication, as it's only a part, albeit important, of their responsibilities.

So what's the interesting part of the HR work? Basically, it could be any activity for which HR will be in contact with other departments, and where HR will contribute directly and visibly to the success of the team. For example:

  • finding and recruiting a candidate for a position, and seeing him/her performing really well
  • suggesting an internal candidate for a position, and boosting his/her motivation and performance in this new role
  • organising a well-planned new hire onboarding and measuring a decrease in turnover 
  • organising a training plan and observing a real difference in the employees' skills, and hence results
  • planning for succession and being able to bring an efficient solution when a high performer leaves the company
  • organising a really useful performance review where employees can get positive feedback, and seeing a much higher completion rate 
  • managing a performance-based compensation plan, and getting higher employee satisfaction as they feel they are fairly rewarded

In all those cases, I believe an HR professional will truly enjoy his/her job and be recognised as being a strong asset for the company. Isn't that cool?

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