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Why it’s time for HR teams to stop focussing on HR

Andy Campbell
HCM Strategy Director at Oracle

Most employees don’t care about HR, at least not until they have an issue they need to resolve. It’s not that people feel strongly against human resources, it’s just that they don’t see how it contributes to their day-to-day job.

That doesn’t mean HR is dead.  People remain a business’ most valuable asset, and it is when HR spearheads the recruitment, nurturing and teamwork between these people that they perform at a high level and make the company profitable.

The reason human resources teams struggle to stay relevant is that they are wedded to process, stuck in the comfort support tasks like coordinating interviews, overseeing shared services, and dealing with simple ad-hoc requests. These functions are all crucial, but they don’t contribute to productivity, or to a hit marketing campaign, or to sales, or to any of the metrics by which the business measures its success.

To reclaim its relevance, HR must accept that its role has evolved and be ready to change. This will involve two major shifts in approach:

  1. Gain a better understanding of what defines success for each line of business, and work towards helping them achieve that

If HR teams continue to focus on traditional HR functions, how can they hope to deliver strategic value to anyone outside their own department? It’s important to support employees with ad-hoc requests and secure the best possible benefits packages, but the unique skillset of an HR professional is suited to much more.

HR’s true calling is to help managers tap into the full potential of their teams while also keeping them motivated. For instance, the Finance leaders will look to HR to ensure recruitment strategies are aligned with the company’s project pipeline, which will make life easier for their resourcing team. Similarly, customer service teams need to feel engaged and motivated if they are to best serve customers. In short, managers need guidance and insight into their team dynamics that will help them foster a happier and more productive working environment.


  1. Stop thinking of employee engagement at the individual level

A great deal of research has been done to understand what makes people feel engaged at work, but this has only focussed on the individual or on their direct relationship with managers. This limited approach delivers an incomplete view of reality. More telling than this information are those factors which contribute to a team’s overall performance and engagement.  With the exception of a freelancer working remotely, the relationship between colleagues is an even greater driver of engagement than people’s relationship with their manager, or with their work itself.

New research from Oracle, Engage for Success and Ashridge Executive Education, part ofHult International Business School is driving this point home. They study, which marks the first ever attempt to understand engagement at a team level, has found that the most engaged and highest performing teams consistently display a positive dynamic between team members and a management style that promotes this.

Whether they are doing more to support other lines of business or helping managers to hire, train and motivate their teams, HR leaders are being asked to step outside of their comfort zone and get more proactive. This requires them to gain a bigger picture view of how people, teams and management combine to drive performance across the business. With that, they will finally stake their true claim in the organisation and stop just focusing on HR tasks.


If you find out more about engagement and its importance, read our report here: https://go.oracle.com/LP=39982?elqCampaignId=65988

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