Is Human Resources (HR) Dead?

HR Consultant Glenn G Jones, GGJ Global Consulting Limited, considers whether HR is dead, or evolving?

HR is Dead, Long Live HR!

As I was researching my new book “Human Resources Changes the World – How and Why HR and HR Directors Should Step-up in the 21st Century”, and, even post that, I became acutely aware of the daily question that was being asked on social media and in HR magazines etc. around the world; “is HR Dead?” If it is, then perhaps the title of my next book is “Human Resources is Dead, long live HR!” Sadly, that title has already been grabbed but you get the gist.

My simple answer to this question is, “NO, it’s not!” However, one thing for sure is that, HR is on the brink of it and, IF it doesn’t evolve and adjust to the 21st Century (as my book states) then, it’s just a matter of time before the function’s existence is called into question on a bigger scale.

So, it got me thinking about why so many people are asking the question? Through my discussions and fact finding I came across the one of the main theme which locked me into my first finding. It appears that HR doesn’t have a clear North Star (1) strategy as to what its role is in the 21st Century! For that we need to have the HR Institutions and Academia around the world take the lead on the basic question of “What is HR’s role and direction now today?” and moreover, as the 21st Century unfolds, how the role will continue to evolve? I have my own views on where HR can truly add and drive value but that’s for another article.

Fluffy HR and ‘Non Value’, or our most important asset?

In addition, to this HR is still seen as a fluffy and non-value add component/function of many businesses and organizations around the world. How this is being allowed to be perceived this way is unbelievable given that, one of the core business mantras’ is “our most important asset (I really don’t like this word asset but it’s the one most coined) is our people and who is the people function, HR!

Taking this on even further, you then start to see why the question is being raised. Part of my research when reading other authors around the world led to the startling fact (and this isn’t changing that much over time), that HR only on average spends around 28% of it’s time on true strategic added value work. Ding ding – you’ve just won a prize for another reason why the question is being asked.

How effective is HR in the Boardroom?

Building on this you then start to ask yourself the question of so how effective is HR in the Boardroom? Again, in the vein of keeping this simple, I have to question whether another area is HR’s credibility and ability to influence events and the strategic decisions in that group of people. After all, shouldn’t the HR Director (HRD) or (Chief People Officer (CPO) be on the shoulder of the Chief Executive Officer?

Lastly, where are the HRDs and CPO who should be making the transition to CEO? In my research I could only find a handful, so why is this not happening? Someone asked me the question as to “why any HR person should want to be a CEO”, and after pondering on this, my immediate answer was “why not!” I reflected some more, and I came to the result that CEO’s absolutely need to have people at their heart when making decisions backed by sound commercial acumen. So again, why shouldn’t an HRD/CPO make that point in the career if they have the right experience, knowledge and skills. In my book I call out the blindspots that exist today in relation to HRDs Boards and CEOs so please check that out.


There is still a place for HR in the modern workforce and whilst the machines have not taken over yet, I do believe that HR has become on the whole stagnant and allowed itself to be called into question; I do ask myself, have HR professionals already become the robots and simply execute what they have always thought needed to be done or what they were taught by their previous HR line manager etc.? It’s now time for the global HR Institutions e.g. Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), Academia and all of those in HR to step-up to the plate and grab the opportunity of re-vitalizing the function, creating and communicating the HR North Star, taking its rightful place at the top table and if it’s the aspiration of the HR professional to do so and they have the right behaviours, experience, knowledge and business skills as outlined in my book, taking the top job of CEO. There is more to do but it could be the start of something new and great. I urge those involved to make the difference, be the change agent and address the key issues head-on. Let’s do this HR and truly make a difference in this world.

Note: This article is drawn from the book Human Resources Changes the World by Glenn G Jones.



Glenn is a freelance HR consultant and has worked with Bank of America, HSBC, Ecolab and Imperial Brands in multi-discipline strategic and operational roles across the world. Prior to this he was employed Eversheds LLP, Accenture, Koorb (NZ) and EON as well as numerous other companies. He is working his way to his PHD, becoming a future CEO and evolving his HR consultancy business to ensure that he continually adds value to his clients, now and in the future. Glenn is passionate about coaching, emotional intelligence and company evolution. His new book ‘Human Resources Changes The World’ aims to disrupt the field of HR and change the traditional approach to who becomes a CEO.