See! I don’t need HR, do I?

Claire Vane
March 2, 2021

The article about CEO secrets: ‘My billion pound company has no HR department’, which hit the headlines last week, has caused various grins in some organisations. One of our clients, for whom we do specific project work, tactlessly sent this article to their HR department. This is a wonderful piece of passive aggressive communication. I wonder what he was telling them…!

Those who don’t like the whole aspect of being in touch with employees, having challenging conversations and dealing with performance issues, will be able to hide behind this article. Of course, there is some context here, and this is, in fact, music to our ears. Greg Jackson, the founder and CEO of Octopus Energy, about whom and whose company this article has been written, does not actually ignore HR activity; quite the reverse. What he advocates, quite rightly, is the transfer of HR accountability to the line managers, and he expects: “mangers to take personal responsibility for these things (with appropriate training)”, rather than “shelving responsibility to a third party”.

We think that this is an extremely effective way of dealing with HR matters, as some line managers, given the choice, in our experience, will avoid having to take on board both new developments in employment law as well as keep abreast of existing statutory procedures which affect their everyday management and leadership lives.

However, in order for line mangers to be effective, they will require some training, and those new to HR soon discover that knowing employment law is not enough; it is the application of that employment law, effectively and in a timely manner, that leads to robust, enduring solutions with the least amount of outlay of time and energy, not to mention cost.

Reading this article, (‘My billion pound company has no HR department’), is a welcome read for us at Integrated Resources, as we supply a turn on/turn off service, making the whole input in the arena of HR (recruitment, application of employment law, performance management, psychometrics and testing, reward strategy and coaching) significantly better value for money than retaining an HR department. If you want to turn us on to deal with either a simple problem, a precedent document or a handbook or much more complicated issues such as getting ready for sale, or a restructure in the light of the pandemic and emerging into the new normal, then we are there only when you want us.

If you want to educate and train managers so that you do not need a full time HR department, then this is also what we can do, or we can offer a timely professional input with over 20 years’ experience in adding value to companies and a very successful track record as evidenced by new referrals as well as long term clients.

The sad thing is that those CEOs who hide behind HR, and who have inadequate skills in communication, motivation, leadership and the management of difficult and tricky issues, are the very ones who will take this out of context.

You certainly don’t need an HR department, but you will, at some point, need timely and robust input – either from line managers if they are equipped to give it, or from outsourced expertise.

As part of our initiative to ensure that outsourced HR is timely, robust and cost effective, we run a number of leadership courses, including a half day workshop on how to handle HR issues, with the fundamentals of employment law, so that managers know what they know, how they can apply it and what to do when they need help when the situation becomes very complex. This leads to reduced HR overheads, reduced employment law costs, but an increase in the realisation that leadership development is critical and should include those areas of HR that ideally can lie with Line Management. Great stuff, Octopus!

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Claire Vane

Claire is the Managing Director and Founder of Integrated Resources. She is passionate about releasing potential in individuals and organisations.

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