Human Resources

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend among Human Resources professionals recently. They are leaving tech companies due to professional dissatisfaction. The trend signals that these companies don’t have an active, engaging role for human resources beyond administrative tasks. A gap is emerging between the next generation of human resources defined as ‘human capital developers’ and the human resources born out of the 20th Century.

Today, HR is undergoing a seismic shift driven by the changing nature of work and the impact of technology. Many companies, even forward-thinking tech companies, are struggling to define the role of HR, and engage the department in the organization’s overall vision. As traditional roles becomes outdated, companies have to reconfigure departments to meet workforce needs. A huge gap is developing between the old and the new model, and in the midst of it, a lack of clarity among many senior managers on how to effectively reconfigure human resources.

For many accomplished HR managers in the technology sector, the department inadvertently becomes a trap offering limited growth and opportunities. Many of these bright professionals possess drive to develop thriving workplaces that in turn can create the best products. However, often the C-suite has a narrow perspective on what HR is capable of accomplishing. CEOs expect one human resources professional to fulfil recruitment responsibilities with generalist HR functions. This usually occurs because of budget restrictions or a lack of awareness of what the future of HR requires to move forward into the 21st Century.

There are few factors driving this trend:


HR professionals have a reputation for being generalists and are quite often seen as the ‘bad guys’ that are known for hiring and firing. We’re now in 2016 and times have changed. Hiring to manage culture and leadership development is now a prerequisite – much like a create DevOps or FullStack Developer might be when creating your company’s technology.

Look for capability, growth, scalability, ability and hunger to learn in your HR professionals. I meet many incredibly talented HR professionals every day that have a unique drive and passion. They go the extra mile to learn and implement their knowledge. Invest in them, like you’d invest in your technology or product team. It’s about keeping your organization ahead of the curve.


Leaders aren’t taking a risk with their Head of Human Resources to create a fully loaded team that can build a company’s culture, which supports the ability to develop strong products. They are working on insufficient department budgets, which negatively impacts their ability to perform at the needed levels.

Building the team and culture to ensure phenomenal output is critical to succeeding and generating growth. Many leaders will not give HR enough credit, bandwidth and strategic scope to really create a company that will generate the ROI the C-suite desire.


Technology’s rapid advancement is transforming the nature of the workforce at lightening speeds. Across the board, the roles of departments and talent are shifting. We know that worker satisfaction is crucial to the overall success of a company. Reluctance to invest to ensure the current workforce can benefit from leadership development negatively impacts growth.

This impact of the above factors requires organizations to implement the following two strategies:

1. Recruitment is a critical function in change management, and recruiters need to be effectively trained as a specialist not HR generalist. Talent acquisition specialists are networking with talent, managing referrals and building the employer brand through their work. It’s a full time job.

2. Hire an HR leader that is truly integrated into management, company brand development and talent engagement, talent retention and culture development – as well as all the crucial generalist aspects.

Human resources is evolving out of a typically administrative role focused on ensuring the company complies with employment laws and regulations, as well as administrative duties related to employees. HR is now the chief architect in developing and managing the employee experience. Much of the administrative as well as operational duties waste both time and energy. Attracting, engaging, retaining and developing the next generation of human capital developer talent requires a new approach that scales across organizational departments.

Human resources is the face of the company when it comes to recruiting talent. The ability to successfully engage and connect with talent serves a critical function in the talent wars. It also demands a special set of skills among this new breed of recruiters: an ability to understand not only the role for which they are hiring. It also requires knowledge of the long term goals of the company and the skills talent needs to evolve with the company. If the company is playing an A game than HR is fully integrated into the company across departments and included in the organizations conversations regarding strategic development and planning. To paraphrase Jerry Maguire, “help your HR people help you.”

Human Capital Development is a critical function in tech companies. It’s never been clearer that these companies must constantly adapt and transform their workforce to keep up with the disruption caused through rapid technological advancement. We are living in the agile age. HR plays a critical role in change management, as well as talent development from attraction through career development, as well as company culture and leadership development. The workforce is no longer static, and remaining competitive requires a proactive approach to human capital development. It’s a sole-focussed, full-time job.

Finding, sourcing and managing talent development is not a responsibility on a checklist; it’s a dynamic role that requires a level of expertise that encompasses more than just compliance issues, EI and employee handbooks. For a company to grow and thrive, HR needs to be empowered to use resources and create a sustainable talent pipeline. Selecting that internal business partner to develop the culture is a priority hire for leadership, talent acquisition and culture development strategies.

HR is evolving as a department into what we now refer to as Chief Experience Officer, Head of Talent or Human Capital Developer. Today most of the administrative work can be automated and phased out in order to engage key personnel that work to shape the employee experience and focus on developing talent. The old HR got bogged down in administering rules and regulations, and often filled positions with staff that had very little relevant experience. Interpersonal, critical thinking and analytical skills are what matters today across the board.

We recognize that today the HR generalist adds little value and it makes sense they would be phased out. We also now recognize that the age-old Human Resources department that concerned itself with administrative and procedural tasks is no longer relevant. The next generation of HR is about actively creating and managing the talent experience as well as the corporate brand. This emerging breed of recruiters are a vital part of winning the talent wars to attract, engage and retain top talent to continue moving upward and FORWARD.

Author: Caroline Stokes is the Founder of Forward Human Capital Solutions. She is an executive career coach and headhunter. 

Image credit: Shutterstock

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