TA, It’s Time To Break Up With HR

Human Resources is a Frankenstein department. They’ve been required to take on everything that didn’t fit into any other departments. Recruitment, Benefits, Employee Relations, FMLA Administration and the list goes on. This is especially true for small to medium-sized organizations. 


This, unfortunately, has put HR teams at a disadvantage for a long time. Not all these functions should secede from the HR union, but we’ve reached a pinnacle breaking point in talent acquisition. We have enough information now to know that our people are the most important part of building a successful company. Bad hires cost more than just dollars and diverse teams lead to better, more successful outcomes. So, why is that we often ask one person to process FMLA paperwork, run an employee relations investigation, coach managers, file compliance reports, interview candidates and to fight all the fires that pop up on any given day? 


I keep hearing the same phrase from HR & TA practitioners, “In an ideal world we would have someone dedicated to employer branding…retention…sourcing etc.” When pressed about why they weren’t able to obtain those resources it became clear there were only a few things standing in their way:

Budget: Most HR operations are understaffed and underfunded making it difficult to add new positions never mind a whole new department.

Perception: People are familiar with the all-in-one HR department structure and even in companies with separate TA functions they are still considered HR. 

If you let talent acquisition operate as its own function they will be able to jump-start the virtuous cycle of recruitment that will allow you to show candidates why they should work with you. They will be able to build a brand around employee stories because as marketing has already figured out, the brand is what people will remember. They can be creative, think more strategically about recruitment, and add more value to the organization. They will be able to spend time understanding how to choose the right technology and actually utilize the systems your paying for. They can focus on the candidate experience (believe it or not, candidate experience can affect your bottom line), build new talent pipelines, understand your employee lifetime value, better train recruiters and so much more! The bottom line is, someone should be thinking about and acting on, recruitment efforts 24/7 and your operation should be proactive, not reactive. 


So how do you get from HR to Talent Acquisition & People Operations? 

  1. Listen to Reid Hoffman’s podcast with AirBnB co-founder Brian Chesky. Pay particular attention to the exercise they used when designing their customer experience. Essentially they draw out the ideal, pie-in-the-sky state, and scale backward. This is exactly what you should do to find the best plan that is also reasonable enough for you to execute. 
  2. Re-design job descriptions: It’s likely there will need to be some shifting of responsibilities. Before you propose this change to leadership you’ll need to show them who will be doing what and how it differs to your current operation.
  3. Write a proposal to the leadership team: Chances are you’re going to have to fight for this. A proposal with examples and data will help. Bonus tip: Get buy-in before you go to the final decision-maker. If your CEO knows everyone’s onboard then you’ll have a better chance to make this happen. 
  4. Assess your current team & understand their career goals: Before you go hiring outside help, look internally for someone who is passionate and wants to learn. 
  5. Hire up: Fill out your team to make sure they will be able to focus on their responsibilities.
  6. Educate your company on your new structure and clearly map out where they should go for the appropriate resources.

I would love to hear from companies who have transitioned from HR to People Ops & Talent Acquisition and how it is currently structured. Shoot me an email at Brian@nextwavehire.com

Brian Mooney

Brian Mooney

Talent Strategist at NextWave Hire
After 10 years in HR & Recruitment, I joined NextWave Hire to help more companies attract and engage candidates through recruitment marketing and employer branding software.
Brian Mooney