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HR’s Value Problem | Katrina P. Merlini, Ph.D.

Over SHRM’s 75-year history, the human resource profession has shifted dramatically from being purely transactional to serving as a strategic partner. More recently, HR has led the way in helping businesses survive the pandemic and align employer value propositions with workers’ changing expectations. Yet a critical issue still plagues the profession: Put bluntly, HR isn’t widely valued. 

How do we know this? In November 2022, SHRM Research asked 585 non-HR employees in the U.S. what they valued about their human resource departments. Overwhelmingly, the most common theme in their responses was, well,

This is certainly disappointing news for HR professionals, but it’s not necessarily surprising. In fact, more than half (57 percent) of the 1,373 HR professionals SHRM Research surveyed in March 2023 said their companies’ own employees don’t understand HR’s value. Screen Shot 2023-08-28 at 101358 AM.pngOne reason could be many employees’ perception that HR is on the side of their employer, not them. Indeed, more than half (55 percent) of the employees SHRM Research surveyed identified HR’s most important priority as to “keep the company out of legal trouble.” But if that were the case, surely business
leaders would appreciate HR’s value, right? Yet nearly half (47 percent) of HR professionals said their organizational leaders don’t recognize their value either. 

Devaluing HR’s work can undermine the function’s important efforts, such as enhancing the employee…

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