Human resources is a tough profession to define. Whenever people ask me what I do and I say “human resources”, their first response is … oh, you hire people. Which is true, human resources often has responsibility in the recruitment arena. But it’s certainly not the sum and substance of the role. By far.
But then, when I try to explain what HR does, it becomes this long list of things – benefits, compensation, safety, employee relations, etc. etc. People’s eyes begin to glaze over…
So when I have to describe what HR does, I like to say – HR is the architect of work.
Think about it. What does an architect do? They’re responsible for creating functional, safe, aesthetically pleasing, economical structures. And they get their job done by not only designing but communicating their design to clients, builders, and others.
Human resources professionals are responsible for creating work that:
- People will want to apply for
- Pays a wage and benefits package companies can afford
- Offers fulfillment to employees
- Meets a need within the organization
And just like some buildings change over time well, work changes too. HR is responsible for taking a holistic approach to work and making sure any changes align with the goals of the organization. It reminds me of the funny story about someone I worked with years ago:
He and his wife would go out to dinner every night. And one night they sketched out their dream home on a bar napkin. They took the bar napkin to an architect and said, “This is our dream home, draw us a blue print.” The architect looked at the napkin and asked, “Can I make one suggestion? Put a kitchen in it.”
So years later, they built their dream home and, taking the architect’s suggestion, included a kitchen. They also put a sign at the kitchen entry that said “This kitchen is for resale purposes only.” Ha!
So, there you go. The role of human resources is to be the architect of work. To create worthwhile jobs that people want to fulfill the company’s goals and objectives.
Image courtesy of RLM Smith