Would you be missed?

If your HR department suddenly disappeared, would you be missed?  People would obviously notice that you are gone (I hope!), but would they really miss you?  It’s a question that many companies are asking themselves (or they should be) and the answers can really inform important conversations in your department or company – where do we add the most value?  What should we be focusing on?  What could we stop doing? Should we make this change?

Bill Taylor, writing for HBR blogs, suggested three ways in which companies can answer this question affirmatively in his blog, “If Your Company Went Out of Business, Would Anybody Notice?”.  Do you fit into any of these?

1.  You provide a product or service that is so unique that it cannot be provided by your main rivals

In HR, who are your main rivals in different areas?  Is outsourcing a rival?  Are there other departments whose responsibilities overlap with yours?  When you look, it can often be relatively easy to find good-enough alternatives.  What can you do to make your offering truly unique for your clients, whether it be your employees or your employer, or whomever you consider a client?

2.  You have created a workplace that is so dynamic and energetic that employees would be hard pressed to find a similar environment elsewhere

While you could apply this to the larger context of the organization, what this point is really looking at are the employees within the department (i.e. not your ‘clients’).  Are your fellow HR members engaged, driven, and excited to show up to work on Monday morning more so than they would in another department or at another company?

3.  You have forged a uniquely emotional connection with customers that other companies can’t replicate

A lot of the value in HR resides in the quality of its relationships with employees in the organization.  Have you forged this deeper connection? Does the value of your relationship go beyond the economic benefits you offer?

Bill Taylor’s message is “if your customers can live without you, eventually they will” and “if you do business the way everybody else does business, you’ll never do any better”.

Answering affirmatively to any (or maybe even all?) of these questions, I think, gives you clout in the organization.  It gives your department the respect to try new things and to help shape company strategy.  I enjoyed writing this blog because I enjoy thinking about HR as a business, not just as a necessary expense, and I think this is an insightful way to think about it.

Good luck with your answers! I’d love to hear them!


Krysty Wideen is a learning and organizational development consultant with The Refinery Leadership Partners, based in Vancouver. Failing to leave her day job at work, she often finds herself relating every day, commonplace observations and activities to insights about leadership, business, human resources, and anything, really. Now she has a place to share her observations and insights.

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2 Responses

  1. Great post Krysty! Thought-provoking questions that I wish I worked within a company so I could answer them. I think this is a good business acumen exercise and think it would be a good facilitated HR activity for a monthly department meeting, too. Keep ’em coming, your posts are great.

  2. Great article Krysty, I think it’s a great eye-opener, a tad depressing in some circumstances, but definitely provides some clarity in our day-to-day functions!

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