A weekly post in which I share (some of) the most thought-provoking content I read this week(ish), which I am too lazy to write full blog posts about.
For all the talk about the “Future of Work”, it still seems a bit abstract, doesn’t it? It can feel like we have quite enough to deal with in the Present of Work, without thinking about what the future might hold. Automation, AI, “Precarious Employment”; the subject is awash in sometimes confusing jargon. Indeed, aside from taking the odd Uber, most HR professionals I know view the “Gig Economy” as a bit of a buzzword, not as an immediate reality requiring our attention.
I’ve come to believe that we’re wrong about that. In fact, I think that the haze of information about what is happening, and what is possible, have obscured a clear shift in the labour market that we need to be paying closer attention to.
Gig economy: “The use of online platforms to engage in project- or task-based freelance work delivered over the Internet.” (via iLabour)
At a recent author’s talk at the University of Toronto, Joshua Gans opened discussion about his latest book ‘Disruption Dilemma’ by observing:
“People now want to be called disruptive, even when what they are doing is not, and that is a problem.”
He’s right, of course. If I have to listen to one more person tell me that their business idea is ”like Uber, but for X” and then proceed to explain something that is completely and entirely un-Uberesque, I am going to start carrying an airhorn.
“It’s like Uber, but for pet foo-MEEEEEEHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!
Metrics. Big data. Analytics. If you work in HR and haven’t heard these words over and over again in the last few years then you probably work for ‘Underground Bunkers R Us’. The rest of us have heard again and again that the next big thing in HR is learning how to better capture and use the information we are all awash in to make our work more evidence-based, measurable and targeted.
In a recent article series for Personnel Today, Paul Kearns sets the bar even higher, making the case for putting HR on the same professional footing as medicine in Part 1 ‘It is Time to Build HR into a True Profession’:
“It [HR] is a highly skilled job that requires the same level of training and dedication as the most qualified and experienced brain surgeons.”
“If HR is to achieve the requisite level of professionalism, it has to become as scientific as it can be, and that requires methods based on the best evidence available.” Read more
I strongly dislike the phrase “put the human back in human resources”. In part because it has become an unimaginative cliché and also because it usually sits atop a passive-aggressive treatise pleading with HR people to stop being such heartless, paper-loving bureaucrats and realize that employees are people too.
The premise underlying these arguments is usually that doing HR well is really just a matter of caring about people. This is nonsense, and does our profession a significant disservice. To see what this belief has wrought, ask 10 HR students why they want to work in HR, and I will wager money that at least 7 of them will say “ Because I’m a real ‘people person’”. Sigh….. Read more