If HR ignores contractors and consultants – are we still Human Resources?

creelmanDavid Creelman is one of those researchers that is constantly looking at the HR profession in a different way. He poses interesting challenges to how we think and how we can present value to our organizations. I had the chance to interview him recently and it was well worth the time.

Given the breadth of his research, I truly just asked – what are you working on and thinking about now?

His answer is that he is still thinking about the book, Lead the Work, Navigating a World Beyond Work, the he co-wrote with John Boudreau and Ravin Jesuthasan. This book really examines the potential that HR is looking at talent too narrowly –  just as employees. He also poses an interesting thought that more recent research is showing cultural fit may not be as important as we think. If that is the case – then should we be looking at a company’s talent needs by incorporating employees, contractors, consultants, and even freelancers?

The principle focus is, by restricting a company’s focus to just employees, that the company is missing out on potentially better and more efficient labor pools.

He does admit that the key is having a core team that is able to determine how work can be broken out and separated – and this is not an easy skill. The second challenge is to develop and instill management approaches that will work across all types of labor types (e.g. consultant and freelance).

What role should HR play?

In my experience, it would appear that HR has begun to be less and less involved in bringing on contractors and consultants. I posed this concern to David. He shared the view and thought that, from a CEO perspective, he would want HR and Procurement to have an equal voice in the non-traditional talent. HR could play a very strategic role in determining the potential quality of the talent, while Procurement would work to maintain the right financial and legal requirements that exist.

As always, David left me with a lot to think about. It kind of makes you wonder – if we are going to still call ourselves Human Resources – what does this mean if we ignore contractors, consultants, or freelancers?

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