Okay, so it’s one thing to have a seat at the table – many of us are there, and eating our cookies. Having a seat isn’t where I’m going with bringing the sexy back to HR though. What’s severely missing is what I will simply call “the cool factor” for HR. Really – name five people you know who think HR and the work we do is “cool.” I’m waiting! I’m not sure you could even sucker your grandma into putting your name on the list.
1. We have to rid the term “personnel” from the business lexicon. It’s no better than the term “secretary.” And for that matter, I don’t even really like the term “human resources” either. It’s about being strategic business partners, and being relentless when it comes to developing/managing people and talent. I would love to hear someone say, “I want to be a chief talent officer when I grow up!” Just the ring of that! Wow! Versus, “I want to be a personnel administrator when I grow up!”
2. Anyone who’s ever heard the words, “You aren’t like most HR people I know”, it is your obligation to give back and show how and why HR is cool. You have to stand up and be a role model. You have to be a better advocate and educator for our profession – and this includes delving into the academic world. Let me ask you this — have you ever stepped into a class of college students to share with them what it means to you to be an HR pro? Do you mentor anyone right now? ‘Nuff said.
3. SHRM has to be a part of this equation, but they are in desperate need of a makeover. They need to re-brand themselves which in effect would help to re-brand the profession itself. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, SHRM is a force to reckon with – they have millions in their reserves from your dues. I’m not sure HR can be made cool or sexy without them though. They definitely need to hire some help in this area though – outsource the re-brand and image overhaul. #3 ties back to #2 too. As individuals, we can get into classrooms or mentor aspiring chief talent officers, but SHRM is the institution, and it is in their mission to advance to HR profession. They’ve got the resources to create and influence academic curriculum. We can’t do this without them.
4. HR needs to get interactive and communicate better. HR teams need blogs, e-newsletters and whatever the next great web 2.0 or 3.0 tool is. We should be shameless self-promoters. We need to communicate more, and communicate better in order for people to understand what we really do, how we do it, and why we do what we do. Talking isn’t enough though – the communication has to be flawless and aesthetically pleasing.
5. If you believe that employment law is the foundation for your work, then this isn’t the right field for you. Go to law school and be an employment law attorney. You’re making HR very unsexy for me. Let’s distance ourselves from employment law as the foundation of what we do. Sure, it won’t go away, but let’s not attach ourselves too closely to it being the guiding force for why we do what we do.
So could any of this help to bring the sexy back? I think it’s a starting point. Again, for me, this isn’t about getting a seat at the table and making HR more strategic – a lot of us are already there and doing just fine. This is about making HR sexy and cool.
Other thoughts? Comment, please. Go ‘head be gone with it!
Jessica Lee is a VP of TA at Marriott International where she leads a team that enables the company to think big, broad and boldly about all things talent acquisition and in effect, keeps them relevant and ahead of the curve in how they attract and acquire top talent. Don’t be fooled by that fancy pants title and description though, she’s still an everyday HR gal in the trenches at the core. SPHR certified, a decade and a half into trench HR life… she can whip up a corrective action plan or source for your purple squirrel in a heartbeat.