Recently there has been some discussion in social media as to the future of the HR Generalist role and is this type of position needed today?
Organizations are constantly reviewing whether to centralize their HR professionals or decentralize the Human Resources function. There are typically three approaches regarding the structure of HR.
Decentralized: If you have talented individuals that are resourceful, knowledgeable and are skilled in the process of explaining the HR programs and policies then the closer they are to support the business the better it is for the company. Decentralization is the optimum approach with respect to building a partnership between HR and the business. It is also the most costly from a budget perspective.
Blended: If the HR staff lack the depth of experience then the goal is to train these individuals and hire “specialists” that can share their knowledge with the newer employees. While these employees remain close to the business their lack of skill can often be an impediment to their success. This structure also takes time to build and commitment from the leadership team is critical to maintaining this type of organizational platform
Centralized: A centralized structure is a skilled and talented staff that are pro-active, reach out to the business units and provide sound advice from a call-center or centralized corporate office. This approach is being used by an increasing number of companies that have 500 employees or more. With employees becoming familiar with the self-service approach to obtain information about pay, benefits, promotions and career paths the need to have an intermediary is becoming less necessary
Today, organizations are looking for cost effective talent to support and partner with the business. With budgets being scrutinized and HR metrics becoming an even more important part of the performance process the future of the HR Generalist particularly in larger organizations is very uncertain.
The future of the HR Generalist in larger companies (employers with 500 employees or more) will ultimately go away and be replaced with experts in a call center or corporate office. The business units will only have an HR Generalist if they are willing to pay for this personalized support. In our opinion, the business leader will determine that the HR Generalist is redundant and unnecessary. Furthermore, the laws are changing rapidly at the state and federal level and with many companies having a global reach the need for “specialists” is even more important in today’s work environment. The HR Generalist role is often one of sharing information that is provided by the corporate HR function anyway. The timely sharing of information is critical to meeting the needs of the business and any follow-up action is often delayed as the skills of the HR Generalist are at times not as strong as the specialist. This requires that the HR Generalist reach out repeatedly to the skilled expert in the corporate office to obtain clarification. This takes time and costs the organization additional expense.
The future of the HR Generalist in smaller companies (employers with 499 employees or less) is a very different story. These skilled professionals will continue to be relied upon, typically report to the CEO or COO and have significant influence on the organization. They will also have between 3 and 5 subordinates which provide specialized services to the company. Further career opportunities in this area will continue to grow and expand.
To learn more about what is best for your company Human Resource departments are often conducting employee surveys to evaluate department performance, establish year-over-year metrics, review the success or failure of the established programs and policies and finally how to best meet the needs of the organization and staff. Consider conducting an employee survey to discover what your employees are thinking.