The nature of my life is such that the topics of conversation can verge from the sublime to the ridiculous, to the completely unexpected. A case in point is that last week I managed to discuss the array of deviant sexual practices and the financial model of HR services within the same 24 hours.
Whilst I’d love to tell you all about felching spoons and the fetishistic objectification of nuns, I’m not sure that would be the best use of your time, please the internet censors, or be particularly wholesome. That said, if you catch me over a glass of wine or two, who knows what could happen….
But that’s not the point. Or maybe it is. But it’s not THIS point.
Most HR teams are set up as cost centres. They’re overheads. Essentially this means that as a user, you get what you’re given. And you pay for it, whether you like it or not. There are advantages to this. Sometimes we have to do things that people don’t want, or don’t know that they want. Sometimes we need to do things a little bit differently to how people want.
But what if we were profit centres? What if we charged for our services and then other departments could buy them? How would that work? And why are companies increasingly looking at this?
I can immediately see some advantages. Instilling a mindset within the HR team to focus on value generation would be helpful. Allowing managers to define the value they want from the HR team could be insightful. And perhaps most of all, reducing the number of pointless and failed initiatives that drive employees and managers up the wall would be a huge benefit.
Still, it can’t counter the unease I have about the whole idea. Firstly it assumes that procurers are experienced, educated and knowledgable. And that isn’t always the case. Secondly, it creates unnecessary internal markets that detracts attention away from the real purpose of the organisation. Finally, and for me most importantly, it suggests HR is there to serve the budget holders and not all employees. Which worries me.
I think HR can gain all the benefits that are derived from this way of operating, without having to change the financial model and incur the associated down sides. It doesn’t seem to me a huge leap of faith or thinking to do that.
Ask yourself, every day, “Would I pay for my service?”
And if that doesn’t work and if things get really bad. Console yourself that what ever might happen, “we’ll always have fisting”.