Recruiting and HR: Integration or Separation?

As we dive into Roy Maurer’s exploration of the ongoing debate on whether recruiting should be detached from the human resources (HR) function, the arguments on both sides raise critical points, reminding us of the crucial question: how can we effectively organize our teams to attract and retain talent?

Maurer starts his exposition by highlighting the inherent differences between HR and Talent Acquisition (TA), a reality that’s hard to deny. HR, at its core, focuses on compliance and management while TA acts akin to sales and branding, tasked with “selling” the organization to prospective employees. In his 2012 study, HR management expert Patrick Wright pointed out this disparity, explaining that talent acquisition often requires a more strategic, externally focused approach, unlike HR’s internally-focused, administrative nature.

Steve Browne, chief people officer at LaRosa’s Pizzeria, encapsulates the issue perfectly when he says, “They [TA] don’t feel that they have support from either side of the ledger.” This dichotomy has led many TA professionals to argue for greater separation and independence, desiring a direct line to business leaders who might understand the intricacies of their role better than their HR counterparts.

John Sullivan, an HR thought leader and author, builds upon this point, saying, “The two functions have slowly become incompatible.” This sentiment is further reflected in a 2018 survey from Korn Ferry, which found that 47% of organizations are now moving towards separating their HR and recruitment functions to better cater to their unique demands.

However, the debate isn’t one-sided. There’s a call from some quarters, such as Jeremy Eskenazi, managing principal of Riviera Advisors, for more integration, not separation. Eskenazi argues that the friction between the two functions isn’t a problem of structure but of management. In fact, research from the Center for Effective Organizations corroborates this perspective, showing that integrating HR and TA leads to increased operational efficiency and more strategic decision-making.

Eskenazi suggests that the fix to a siloed and dysfunctional HR function is not to separate TA from HR but to “correct the dysfunction and more fully integrate all people strategies.” This holistic approach, although difficult to implement, could lead to a more robust HR function that can tackle an organization’s people strategies comprehensively.

Others, such as Michelle Prebble, director of talent acquisition at Visier, and Alishaa Chhabra, CEO of Snipebridge, argue for a case-by-case basis. They propose that whether HR and TA should be separate or integrated should depend on the company’s unique needs and circumstances.

Yet, Sullivan also lists out a few additional differentiators – speed, focus, and attitude – that arguably reinforce the separation stance. However, we must be cautious to not overly generalize these distinctions. As pointed out by Browne, TA can also evolve to be a bridge that seamlessly connects talent acquisition to talent development, thus playing a significant role beyond just recruiting.

As we wrestle with the merits and demerits of both arguments, it’s clear that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Whether an organization should separate or integrate its HR and TA functions depends largely on its unique circumstances, goals, and needs.

Lastly, let’s not forget the people at the heart of these functions. As Sullivan says, the transition to a separate model could be challenging for those currently in recruiting who might not possess the required skill sets or interest. Likewise, Prebble and Eskenazi both warn of the potential negative impact on the candidate and employee experience if HR and TA are disjointed.

The key takeaway from Maurer’s piece is the need for constant evaluation and adaptability. No matter where we stand on the HR vs TA divide, our objective remains the same – to build organizations where talent can thrive. As we grapple with this debate, we should keep our focus on this shared goal, adapting our structures and strategies as needed to best serve our people and our businesses.

Read More at SPHR

Dennis Ivanov

A Talent Acquisition Architect and an advisor to Executive Leadership on Talent Acquisition strategies. From start-ups to global organizations, Dennis excels in designing impactful solutions that optimize talent acquisition and HR processes. With a competitive spirit and strong communication skills, he fosters continuous improvement and champions diversity and inclusion.

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