Why is there so much HR hatred?

Man and woman staring out at night sky from office

Despite not being an HR professional, in my Masters I studied a module on International Human Resource Management and found it very interesting (though perhaps this was more from a historian’s perspective than that of a practitioner). Anyway, I regularly hear streams of bile come out of professionals’ mouths directed at those within the HR profession – “It’s bulls**t,” “It’s for nobodies” and other such comments. 

I personally think that HR serves an important function in the 21st century business world. If we are to fine-tune every aspect of our existence, then why not scrutinise the very employees that make up our organisations? Not in an intrusive way, but in a way that improves performance and wellbeing at the same time. 

Have a look at some troll-ish comments that I found beneath one HR service provider’s video on YouTube. I’ve also provided my take on the commenters’ viewpoints.

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…and that’s why we have HR, so prejudices like this in workplace can be ironed out.

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I’m not sure wellness programmes and mindfulness really constitute a new era of aggression against the working class. You come to work to create a product or service, which is then bought by a customer and this pays your wages. By entering the capitalist world of work you commit yourself as a marketable product yourself, since your skills and knowledge make you valuable to people who need your talent, to make money, to pay you, themselves, and other people, and the cycle goes on… If HR managers are the overseers of a system that keeps the economy growing and liberal governments in power, then are they really that bad?

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I’m not sure if this commentator is knocking HR entirely, but s/he is certainly not happy with the current practitioners. I think we’d all be interested to know what the great future holds for the profession and for organisations. Far from a sudden paradigm shift though, I expect change will be gradual as we move further into the 21st century. The HR hierarchy’s demise might be pretty gradual too, so it may not be such a fun show for our laughing YouTuber here.

Perhaps HR departments need to do more to convince employees of their genuine worth, if they want to push employee engagement levels through the roof. It’ll be a difficult task since HR is the department that fires people, makes redundancies and signs off payrises – all of which can get people’s backs up.

About Tom Phelan

Tom Phelan is assistant editor at HRreview. He is interested in uncovering the practicability of HR techniques and the changing nature of the profession in a fast-paced business world. Prior to this, he was a staff writer at ITProPortal.com.

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