HR Representation and How to Build It

October 22, 2020

Hey there! In this first issue of Think with Humi, I’m going to share my perspective on HR representation, and how to build the voice of HR

As we’ve evolved from a physical labour economy to a knowledge labour economy, some of our practices haven’t transformed. That may be due to the need for upskilling within HR - but I often make the argument that it has to do with the reception, respect, and inclusion of the HR function within businesses and their overall strategy. 

“But HR exists at my company… What do you mean it’s not included in the strategy?”

Take a look at your company profile online: the website, LinkedIn - in some way or another, it’s likely that the people within the company are listed as the organization’s biggest asset.

Now look at your leadership team - is HR represented? How is it represented? Some food for thought. To be a truly people-driven organization, it is important that HR is included in the business strategy, at the right time and in the right way. 

“We don’t have a VP of HR, or CHRO - how is HR represented, then?” 

That’s fine! It isn’t (yet) a common practice for organizations (especially smaller ones) to have HR representation at the C-suite… or even a few levels below. But we will get there. 

Some of you reading this may exist within the start-up space and not have a formalized HR within your <15 person team. Others may have an entire HR department that manages hundreds of employees. Or maybe you’re reading this, hoping to build a career in the field of HR. No matter the size of your workplace (current or future), you can individually contribute to the representation of HR. 

  1. Identify your workplace "people" or HR champion(s). They may not be in an "HR" department. But find them, and work with them.
  2. Confirm if your HR function is transactional or transformational in nature.
  3. Start the people conversation (I’ll explain this below).
If an organization only includes HR in problem-solving or decision-making after the problem has happened, it will always be seen as a transactional function.

What is the difference between transactional and transformational HR?

In many organizations, HR may still be viewed as the administrative function, the team of “no” say-ers, or the group that slows things down. That is unfortunately, often correlated to how HR is represented.

Transactional HR focuses on “what do I need to do, to meet business objectives?” and is more administrative in the day-to-day operations (but essential, nonetheless!).

Transformational HR focuses on “how can I create a sustainable competitive advantage?”, and often leverages technologies (*ahem* Humi) to relieve the administrative burden, allowing HR to build core competencies and value-added services. 

The bottom line is no matter the size of your workplace, you can individually contribute to giving HR a voice.

Start the people conversation. Use evidence. Be future-focused. 

It doesn’t matter what your title is –you have a platform to initiate change and bring HR into the conversation. However, make sure to do so with data and evidence to support your findings, and be future and solutions-focused. HR has a reputation of being rooted only in “thoughts” and “feelings” - that isn’t the full way of the future. Thanks to technology and systems, we have data to support the need for new programs and initiatives. 

A people conversation may include looking at your recruiting process to identify bias in your sourcing methods. It might include reviewing your total compensation in the marketplace. Or maybe it’s implementing a management training program. These are tactical elements that build the employee experience, and to shift from transactional HR to transformational HR, you first have to start the people conversation. 

So how is HR represented in your organization? Are you transactional, or transformational? I’d love to hear how you include HR in the discussion and what has worked for you and your team! Let’s start the conversation - DM or tweet @andreabartlett_ or send me an email and let’s connect! 

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Hey there 👋 my name is Andrea Bartlett.

I’m the Director of HR at Humi, and I’m obsessed with all things people and human resources. Throughout my time working in a range of industries, I’ve learned that one thing is clear: the world of work is changing and HR professionals are leading the charge. 

I believe that businesses should know their people as well as they know their product. But people are complex, and the solutions aren’t always easy. That’s how Think with Humi will help. 

Written by me, this newsletter is designed to give you insight into the relevant and raw people challenges, and give you the tools to enable you to continuously to shape the future of work. 

Written by a people leader, for people leaders.