The HR Debate: To Split or Not to Split? | Timerack

By Adam Day

November 26, 2018

In 2014, author and business advisor Ram Charan advocated in the Harvard Business Review for a radical restructuring of the human resources department.

The problem, Charan argued, was that too many HR leaders did not have the business expertise needed to play a more strategic and advisory role within their organizations. CEOs, he said, wanted to be able to use their Chief Human Resource Officers as “sounding boards and trusted partners” but found their experience in operations and finance inadequate for such a role.

Charan proposed a split, with one half of an HR department devoted to administration and the traditional tasks around compensation and benefits. The other half would be devoted to leadership and organization, serving as a link between a company’s “social systems” and its financial performance, and led by people with a background in operations and finance.

The article, “It’s Time to Split HR”, set off a debate that is still being argued in HR forums across the world.

HR Professionals: Splitting HR a “Step Backward”

Many HR professionals could not have agreed less. Henry Jackson, then-President and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), responded with an open letter to Charan in which he called the proposal a “a step backward.” The idea, Jackson wrote, did not take into account the “development and contributions to the business process the HR profession has made over the last two decades.”

Jackson pointed to the profession’s growing proficiencies and training and certification programs focused on business skills.

But it was hardly the last word. More recently, the HR split idea was promoted as a way to develop one group of professionals who could develop and focus on the analytical and data skills CEOs want, while the other half remained focused on more traditional HR functions.

Recently, Forbes contributor and tax professional Cameron Keng weighed in, describing the risks created by decentralizing the work of HR

While it is common practice for small businesses to separate human resources services and payroll, dividing responsibilities further can leave companies at risk for lawsuits, Keng argues.

A decentralized HR can leave a business with dangerous blind spots, he adds.

The debate is unlikely to be settled anytime soon. But there’s little question that the role of the HR department has grown vastly more complex, along with the workplace laws and regulations that are among its chief responsibilities.

HR Software Can Streamline HR Administrative Tasks

For smaller companies, the issue is less about structure and more about how to do more with the staff they have. HR software can help by streamlining tedious manual processes that can keep employees tied up in data entry or paper shuffling. Integrating or connecting your time-keeping system to your payroll system is a great way to minimize errors and time spent on double entry.  Timerack’s time and attendance system can also include added HR features on TimerackHR,  which can help smaller and midsized companies by providing templates for documents and handbooks, an updated library of workplace regulations, and access to HR professionals for more specific advice.

At Timerack we are committed to providing solutions to the payroll industry that cover the entire landscape of compensation issues. In addition to our state-of-the-art time and attendance software and HR module, our clients have access to additional solutions through our sister company Payroll Tax Management and our partners.



Looking for our logo?

Download a zipped file with our logo in EPS, AI, SVG, JPG, PNG and PDF formats.