Where is the love (for HR)?

Back in 2005, Fast Company published an article called “Why We Hate HR“.  Amongst other things, it named and shamed a conference speaker for a presentation that was difficult to understand at an HR Conference (crime of crimes)…

The article is thick with hatred for HR – the opening paragraph suggests that the conference topic, “strategic HR leadership”, signals “a conceit that sounds, to the lay observer, at once frightening and self-contradictory. If not plain laughable.”  While it’s true that many HR professionals aren’t there yet, even 8 years later, I’m not sure why we should be criticised for trying to get there.


There’s a lot of HR bashing out there.  Here’s some that I uncovered in about 15 minutes today:

  • Reddit: “F*&$ing Recruiters. Especially ones named Ryan”
  • Reddit: “Recruiters. F*$& them, seriously. I swear they create entire jobs just to get your name on a database.”
  • Twitter: I hate HR folk
  • Twitter: Hi my name is Ryan and I hate HR. You can’t verify I graduated high school? And because of this you’re skeptical I’m in college? Come on.
  • Twitter: Reason to hate HR number 10345: apparently they think the break room is their new cubicle
  • Twitter: Some big Cos online recruitment systems really are absolute CRAP! Bet it was “HR Professionals” who designed it! I HATE “HR Professionals”
  • Twitter: I can get to the Passport Unlimited interview on the bus, then a 10-minute walk. Yay. I think I hate HR ladies.
  • Twitter: The human resources department for New Haven sucks ass, pick up or call me back.
  • Twitter: I’ve decided to refuse to listen to negative a#$holes, so now HR is sending for a hearing test.
  • Twitter: What is called when you drunk call your job solely on the weekends? I’m asking because these a#$holes at HR won’t tell me.
  • Blog Comment: “There’s a special circle in hell for HR people”

So why the hatred for HR? In every profession, there are good practitioners and bad practitioners. But a bad corporate accountant, marketer, lawyer, project manager, IT professional, etc. can’t affect your life to quite the extent that a bad HR professional can. We’re working with people’s livelihoods – it’s a responsibility we need to take seriously.

Ultimately, the article concludes that HR has a unique potential to discover things about the business through the lens of people and talent, and in doing so to create competitive advantage. The reason that the author claims to hate HR is that “in most companies, that opportunity is utterly wasted”. Does that describe your organisation? What are you doing to align your workforce strategy to your organisational strategy and unlock competitive advantage?  Have we moved on from the criticisms made of HR 8 years ago, or are we still, as the author puts it, “stuck”?


4 thoughts on “Where is the love (for HR)?

  1. Incisive as always Alex. Lots of the bad vibes are due to “bad” HR people as you mention, another factor is that many line managers abdicate their people management responsibilities to HR, in particular the bad bits. HR then becomes the dumpyard for and messengers of negative individual stuff. And yes, we use words like “abdicate” in the workplace 🙂

  2. HR sucks because it is the most discriminatory profession there is. Look around your organziation or company HR department and what do you see? Nothing but middle aged white women. Most of these “HR professionals” are clowns, who think the are uber important and know nothing about the profession they are paid to do.
    They won’t interview, let alone hire men for C-Suite level HR positions, which is ironic because the very profession that is suppose to champion diversity is the least diverse itself! They know nothing about employment law and are nothing more than individuals who have been with a company x number of years and the company doesn’t know what to do with them anymore so they stick them in HR.
    Where’s the love? How can you show love for a profession that is clueless about their jobs?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s