Saturday, February 14, 2009

Are we value-add?

This was an unusually hectic week in my office. Friday, there was a lull in the office. We were tired, and needing respite, sat down in our lobby chairs to a communion of rest. We chatted about the training schedule for our newly hired HR assistant when one of my colleagues asked this question. So what do we REALLY do anyway? We chortled about our relevance and I offered up the ubiquitous 'information broker' - some days it seems as if all we do is move information. Of some kind.

So I posed this question. Taking the bomb shelter scenario (that I am sure we have all had to play at some point in our educational career), would anybody take an HR professional? Really, what value-add are we in a situation like that? We don't build or fix anything. We don't grow or make a product. What do we contribute? At initial glance, we don't add much of anything -nada -zilch -none. But digging deeper into the conversation, perhaps there is a place for us. Consider the following.

1. Someone will need to keep track of the people in the bomb shelter. Names, family members, contribution potential, skills, knowledge and abilities, etc. We can do this. In fact date collection and regurgitation is a good part of our daily operation.

2. Since labor will need to be divvied up, who better than an employment specialist to match the right person to the job? We will need skills assessment, assignments, development and cross-training. (So things are looking up for the employment people).

3. The likelihood of having a doctor among us is high, so we will need someone to track the doctor's work and schedule. A benefits specialist would be just the person.

4. You know that we will have all kinds of employee relations issues. It's a given. We will need an experienced mediator/employee relations specialist to help resolve issues and keep people humming.

5. Lastly, it's conceivable that other bomb shelters may be in operation too. Someone will need to track identification and travel authorizations. We can't have anyone coming into our bomb shelter who can't show the right credentials, skill set and contribution potential. Just the right job for an immigration specialist.

We all felt better at the end of this hilarity. We agreed that there was a place for us in society, even if we are information brokers!


Lisa Rosendahl said...

Thanks for the smile - had along week myself.

Steve Boese said...

I like the analogy. Spend too much time in the bomb shelter and you'll quite likely be ready to throttle someone, and who'll be there to defuse that situation?
That exercise sounded like a good way to decompress after a long week, great idea.