· 2 min read · Features

Eugenio Pirri: HR needs to blow its own trumpet


The perception of HR has evolved dramatically over the past five years, and we should be proud

It feels like there has been a seismic shift in how HR is viewed in a business and how it can add value to the bottom line. However, there is still an undercurrent of negativity in some circles and in my opinion this is down to two things. First, the inability to flex and evolve HR approaches in an ever-changing world. And second, the fear that surrounds data usage in the department.

HR is not an administrative function – we are operational and should be held accountable for the commercial success of the business and its human capital. As we are not always seen this way our reputation is negatively affected.

We need more shouting about success stories from a diverse range of HR professionals. For example, small business HRDs are massively unrepresented in the media and awards ceremonies yet tend to be adopting some of the most innovative tactics because they don’t have the resource luxury of bigger organisations.

Too many HR functions are still firefighting; meaning they get tarred with the negative brush. This isn’t necessarily because of the characteristics of an HR person however, it’s the way the business is set up. Sometimes for HR strategy to be taken seriously a cultural shift needs to take place.

I don’t believe we need to split the HR function and create more levels within a business. How can we build an innovative strategy if we're no longer accountable for the day-to-day running of the people function? Also think about the administrative nightmare across UK businesses as HR becomes fractured, split up, shunted and dissected.

The way the debate is moving regarding transformational vs transactional HR means we are in danger of placing a negative spin on one; making one skill more attractive and exciting than the other. We need to talk more about the different skills these roles require and sell the benefits of both.

In my organisation rather than splitting up the department we restructured, so people and organisational development are responsible for all the non-financial aspects of the business. I believe this strategic role we have carved was the result of having our operations spot on, allowing us to build on them rather than demolish and separate what we’d grown.

Now enough talk, it’s time for action. Many out there are leading the way, and not worried about what they are called – they are making a difference and making it happen. They are not waiting for the profession to catch up, they are building new roads, and in some cases new transportation to take their companies down the road. This needs to be the future.

HR directors seem to have resigned themselves to a position of lowliness within business, closed off in an HR silo – this needs to stop. HR is a challenging and rewarding profession that can deliver seismic organisational change. Celebrating these achievements and collaborating with other departments is the only way the function can be seen as a role of choice and attract the brightest and best to take the industry forward.

Eugenio Pirri is VP, people and organisational development at Dorchester Collection