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Celebrating HR (Yes, I'm Serious!) on International Human Resource Day

Happy International Human Resources Day! Now, before you roll your eyes or block me from your feed... 😉

I know, believe me, I know... HR often gets a (sometimes very well-deserved) bad rap. According to data shared by SHRM, the major professional association for HR professionals, there’s a significant lack of trust between employees and HR. Many people see HR as a necessary evil, and far too many leaders view HR as a convenient way to avoid the "messy parts" (i.e., the HUMAN parts) of managing people.

I’ve been quite vocal about the shortcomings of traditional HR practices because, frankly, they fail everyone. In my last corporate role, I insisted they remove "Human Resources" from my name badge (which we were required to wear on-site) because it immediately put people in a defensive, untrusting space, and I was hired to get to the root cause of employee DISsatisfaction. I was already behind the proverbial 8 Ball, and I didn't need any additional barriers to dismantle. My outspoken criticism of the behaviours which fuel the traditional "HR as Executioner" paradigm got me into hot water with some of my HR colleagues - but we can't continue using broken models and expect better outcomes.

Human Resources (HR) is more than just a business division that manages a company’s workforce. At its best, HR helps employers build and maintain positive relationships with their employees. Here’s a quick rundown of HR’s essential functions, often organized in lots of different ways depending on the company structure:

  • Talent Management: Recruiting, hiring, developing, engaging, and retaining employees. Without a robust talent management strategy, organizations miss out on the best and brightest candidates and fail to nurture the potential within their existing workforce.

  • Compensation and Benefits: Evaluating pay practices, setting up a fair and motivating compensation structure, and ensuring employees feel valued. Competitive benefits packages can make a significant difference in attracting and retaining top talent.

  • Training and Development: Creating and administering training programs that foster growth and prepare employees for future challenges. Continuous learning opportunities are key to keeping employees engaged and skilled.

  • Payroll and Compensation: Ensuring accurate and timely employee compensation. Nothing undermines trust faster than errors in payroll!

  • Compliance: Making sure the company adheres to employment regulations, which is crucial for avoiding legal pitfalls and maintaining a fair workplace.

  • Employee Engagement: Developing strategies and initiatives to motivate employees, including recognition programs, feedback mechanisms, and career growth opportunities. Engaged employees are more productive, loyal, and satisfied. (This is my preferred part of the sandbox! I know, big shocker...)

  • Succession Planning: Building talent pipelines and ensuring consistent leadership without gaps. This ensures business continuity and prepares the organization for future growth.

HR is a vital component of any successful business. In today’s chaotic and competitive environment, having a confident and empowered HR team (even if it’s just one person in a small organization) is crucial for thriving. Most HR professionals I know are working tirelessly to change the narrative by becoming strong, capable partners. But we can’t do it alone.

So, what can you do? Engage with your HR team. Provide honest feedback and collaborate on building a workplace culture where everyone feels valued and supported. Recognize the efforts of your HR colleagues today and every day. Together, we can reshape the future of work, one positive interaction at a time.

And if you're an HR professional who is actively working towards a better future, first of all, thank you. It's hard to shift deeply-entrenches perspectives, and yet so necessary. I know there are professional organizations like HR HotSeat ( that are creating healthier, more sustainable approaches to HR, as well. We're making progress!

Let's celebrate HR not just as a function, but as a catalyst for creating a thriving, people-centered workplace. Happy International Human Resources Day!



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