HR: Why have we lost that loving feeling for the function?

Zofia Sharman our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 25 November 2019

Why did you go into HR?

What for you was the deciding factor or initiating influence. Was it primarily "for people" or was it to do with "company profits"?

As a Recruiter for HR, it’s a question I like to ask and would say 99% of HRs make the decision to go into HR because they love or are great with people, though whilst this people element and genuine support of people can tend to feature early on in their career, the further the career ladder is climbed, the less this is the case.


Yes, HR is about people. Though often it can be in relation to the squeeze of them largely for example, for the interests of the business, for the bottom line, cost cutting for company profit, company expansion, acquisition or anything shareholder related. Doing this job after job, HRs can often feel fed up, given up, internally deflated, personally depleted, devalued, loss of confidence and even switched off about their career – which can become the main reason for HRs to press eject on the profession and downgrade of the worth or value of the HR function. Easy to do because how is it (ever) possible to value something when you’re already holding your own personal value low in the first place? Everything then is affected for example how career advancement occurs, how skills or qualities are sold during job interviews, salary negotiated and general impetus for the work any HR does.

Is it then a case of valuing oneself to value one’s career? Or, that to value and find worth in your career, you must feel worth and value for yourself first?

For instance, if something is already low or downgraded to being not equal then whatever is done is done minus the sparkle of appreciation because in truth you can’t appreciate what you don’t already value.


For many HRs the light hue of appreciation isn’t occurring as much exhaustive effort is being spent gaining traction of themselves as a HR, proving the value of the function they represent, justifying the worth of themselves in being regarded by the business as "cost centres" and working always to save costs and protect the interests of the business.  

Every business needs an HR team that is committed or re-committed to their raison d’etre for entering this human-centred career. A career that is about the interests not just of the business and its leaders, but the interests of all, from the cleaner to the CEO. That every person matters and where, regardless of position, title, function, seniority, they are part of the one work family; a family in which and in its truth every person holds and is held with equal importance.


So is the job of the HR to facilitate this standard perhaps? If so, would there not be more collaboration, higher quality, increased productivity, stronger engagement, increased retention and improved morale? 

When we re-connect to become re-ignited about the purpose, intention, motivation and essentially why we chose to enter our career, then everything changes – 

I’ve seen 100s and 100s of HRs and there are some truly fabulous ones that do genuinely care about people, do have a heart, sensitivity and respond from this as best they can, do work towards what’s best for people and equally the business over what is HR standardized or prescriptive, bland or insipid elements of policing, which many HRs have become known for and end up following through on to keep their job. In the tidal wave of ‘the business always comes first’, it seems HR has shut down, closed its doors, become hardened protective even at times combative. Ultimately crushed, it’s not really been able to keep hold of the original intending purpose: the people-element, to mean the importance, value and equalness of all people, which includes the HRs themselves and the HR function in what it is to deliver for the business based on people purpose, can become null and void or obsolete. How can you be in love with something obsolete?


So how can HR fall back in love with HR? Is it a case of coming back again to purpose and remembering with real appreciation what HR is about –

▪ People first and therefore humanity
▪ Providing duty of care and responsibility for people – that includes the HR as a person and member of humanity themselves
▪ Being the guardian or keeper and sustainer of harmony and love between peoples within a business so that the business thrives and profits because the people are thriving first - anything that naturally thrives is healthy 
▪ Beholding the business and those in it with a standard of respect, decency, love no different to a parent raising a child and family. HR is there to raise, encourage, inspire and evolve
▪ Being a role model - is HR as a whole function including those HRs in the team thriving as role models for those it has a responsibility for rearing? Vital parent, vital child?
▪ Setting the work standard - the quality of HR sets the standard for the quality for the organization and the working culture that happens as a result 

How important, invaluable and essential then is HR?


How important is it for a HR to realise the importance of their own importance, personally as well as professionally?


How important is it for HR to make a stand for the interests of people in the business over otherwise being the unconscious or active enabler of policies and structures that can crush people, create divisive work cultures and uphold toxic environments?

How important is it for HR to no longer stay silent but to speak up and have this important voice at the board table about what’s really truly going on with people and the organisation, the possible levels of unacceptable abuse, corruption, imposition or control that’s being exerted by the leaders of the business that may even sit around the boardroom table, or hold board level position? To be strong and solid enough in themselves to call out across the organisation behaviours or work styles that are not conducive and impact levels of organisational harmony and trust.

HR is an active advisor, the responsive eyes and ears of a business; there to support people and every person in the business to develop, initiate, evolve, and with caring response steer the business around ‘people issues’ towards collective benefit and success. HRs hold the balance; they are the equal in-breath and out-breath of an organization’s standard and integrity based on their very own (personal value) because what is breathed in or taken in – is breathed out to be. They provide the ‘why we are here’ and so given this what are we going to now do or now be.


It is time for HR to take a confident U-turn, inwardly reflect to really begin to appreciate their immense value in being invaluable; to walk that, own that, even celebrate that. To get serious about the serious job of HR through the job of understanding the part of who they are, what they stand for and have a whole active responsible jigsaw piece in - the evolution of people within an organisation that includes themselves equally.

Get in touch with me

Zofia Sharman 
HR Practice, Well-Being Ambassador

Zofia can be contacted for questions, comments, meetings relating to this content, the topic of well-being, or any HR hiring needs.

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