March 26, 2011 by

Fresh Perspectives on HR

The HR literature is well-represented by academics and seasoned professionals but oft times neglects the novel ideas that early career professionals and students can offer. This year’s essay competition helped elucidate such ideas, tapping undergraduate and graduate students at Cornell for advice. The following are excerpts from students’ responses to three contemporary HR issues.

Developing HR’s Brand Equity

Brian P. Jenkins, MILR ‘11

“If HR was able to adopt an entirely business-focused and metrics-based model of operation, this would at best only bring HR to the level that other functions in the organization have already achieved. [HR] must use not only reactionary methods of trying to play catch up…. As a function, HR needs to become the organization’s champion of global business.”

Christopher G. Lee, MILR’ 12

“Human Resources has only just begun to move past its transactional roots into a truly strategic and value-adding role…. Focusing on a more results-driven analytical approach, adapting to an evolving workforce, and increasing visibility within the organization will help HR better convey its value and continue to evolve at all levels of the company.”

Samuel D. Merkley, MILR ’12

“In many regards, members of the Human Resources department are the unsung heroes of the corporate world because the vast majority of the population only notices when HR is not doing its job…. In order to increase the credence given to HR, practitioners need to play a more active role in the promotion of HR as a career… [and] put more effort into trumpeting the success of initiatives they have implemented.”

Lale Terzioğlu, MILR ’11

“Management needs to understand the capabilities of HR, but HR has the responsibility to show its capabilities to management through a clear understanding of business goals, external environment and expectations of customers…. HR needs to prove its impact on the organization through developing itself and becoming more accessible.”

Costs and Benefits of Part-time Workers

Chelsea E. Vandlen, MILR ’11

“Human resource professionals must undergo careful analysis to weigh the benefits against the costs [of adopting a contingent labor strategy] for their respective companies, particularly with regard to fixed costs, flexibility, and productivity…. Once HR is armed with a closer approximation of the costs of contingent workers, they will be better positioned to make decisions about who to hire.”

Lisa Chen, MILR ’12

“Although there is a lot of work ahead for HR when it comes to properly managing a part-time and non-permanent workforce, the advantages of having top talent and flexibility for a company can far outweigh the costs, as long as it is utilizing its workforce appropriately…. HR will need to be able to monitor its part-time and transient workforce, enforce policies that safeguard the company from legal issues, and manage the impact of this unique workforce on the company culture.”

Balancing HR’s Conflicting Stakeholders

Sheela George, BSILR ’12

“Management is best served when there is a strong core of employees…. Once it is made clear that employees and managers should work together as a team, advocating on behalf of employees while seeking the best interests of management should be easy for an HR professional.”

Mary Seungmin Yoo, BSILR ’12

“Managers and employees often seem to have intrinsically different – if not opposite – goals and values. What if these two groups did not stand on the extreme ends of a spectrum? Managers and HR practitioners must work together to motivate and inspire their employees to act as partners rather than as mere factors of production.”

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