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Elizabeth Fuss Arnott, SPHR  I have been working in Human Resources for 23 years. Since 2011, I have been certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR).  I have a BA in English and a Master of Jurisprudence in Labor and Employment Law from Tulane Law School. I live in the Pacific Northwest with my husband Luke and our cat, Poirot. I write about HR, non-profits, the art of managing people and Neurodiversity in the workplace. I'm available for employment, contract work, consulting, coaching and training virtually and in the Portland, OR area. Please email me at for more information. 

  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Arnott, SPHR

"HR is Broken!" The Anthem of the Resigned and the Uprising of the Contrarians

"In all probability, if you're in HR, you're doing it wrong. It's changing - slowly - but sadly, HR is more broken than most areas." This was a response to a post I made on Twitter yesterday. And it's not the first time I've heard it. Especially in the last several years - people have blamed HR for inept responses to harassment complaints, ridiculed their singular focus on policy, and mocked their so-called seats at the table as being for show. They aren't wrong. Many responses to harassment by HR departments have been dismal. HR pros that live by "rules are rules" are shortsighted and forget that humans are not rules,. HR pros that shoot themselves in the foot by putting all their focus on inanimate policies, instead of dealing with the messy, emotional, problematic humans. Executives frequently ignore the input of HR in important decisions and disregard HR as being a necessary evil.

But it's not all bad. In fact, I have found more hope recently in social media and in person in the HR world. Hope that lies in real HUMAN resources professionals who pride themselves on leading with heart, focusing on people, not on policy and people who are being listened to and heard by the executives that need to hear them. A remarkable group of people that have difficult conversations on a regular basis about diversity, equity and inclusion. People that talk about PEOPLE, not policy. People that work for organizations where the executives value their skills and listen to what they say. And people who have gone out on their own to promote positive, people-centered practices.

There is a lot wrong with HR for sure - everywhere you look. But how can we make things better if we don't suggest ways to fix it? How can we improve employee experiences if we just say "eh, HR is broken"? We can't. We have to speak up and speak out. We have to find, train and BE the executives that listen and that value great people practices. We know great people practices result in a better bottom line. If we communicate our goals in terms and languages that are understood by executives, we are going to start changing things.

So yeah, HR is broken. But I'm excited to be working in HR in a time of so much change, so much possibility and so much transparency. It makes us better practitioners. I'm ready! Are you?

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