Keeping the Human In HR, Ira S Wolfe
Keeping the Human In HR, Ira S Wolfe

STOP before you read this! I want to apologize right up front. I didn’t write this article to make you comfortable, but uncomfortable. I don’t have a quick-fix solution. No one does. There is no futurist in the world that has an exact prediction of what the future’s going to bring. If they say they do, run away and do it fast. What I can offer and hope to do is jump start a crucial conversation that must start now- one about Keeping the Human in HR.

The future simply came too fast for HR. Today is an existential moment for HR. It’s time to act responsibly and consider all the unintended consequences. Those consequences include what happens when you use technology …and when you don’t.

New disruptive technologies arrive daily, From nanobots to space travel, news about disruptive technologies flash across our screens more often and the impact on our lives is increasingly unimaginable. Stories about robots replacing humans stoke our wildest fears as we evolve from futurist science fiction into modern day reality. And yet half of HR is still mired in a world long gone while the other half chases new shiny objects.

For nearly 20 years it’s been trying to figure out how to get the ATS to work right. It converted its paper job application into an online contact form… and considered that to be good enough. Heck, many companies still rely on spreadsheets for sourcing and payroll. Others cling onto poor functioning software (if they use any at all) written for a pre-Google world while job seekers and employees demand a personalized, user-friendly, speedy digital experience. For those brave HR souls who did adopt technology, they naively relinquished control of it to “handle” many of its functions, hoping it would make them more productive and efficient. HR essentially gave permission to technology to do whatever it could do to make HR’s job easier, not what it should do. It distanced itself from its primary audience — employees and candidates, and then blamed technology for the cold, corporate experience it delivered.

Today it’s not technology that humans should worry about. It’s how HR responds from this day forward.

Note: I presented Keeping the Human in HR at the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference to a standing-room only room and quite a bit of buzz afterwards. Here are links to 2 of the stories:

Looking for a speaker for your next conference or business meeting about Keeping the Human in HR, Future of Work, Recruiting in the Age of Googlization, People Analytics, Generation Robot? Let’s talk.

A "Millennial trapped in a Baby Boomer body, Ira S Wolfe has passionately embraced how exponential change will impact the future of work, jobs, and society.

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