Why Are We Closing HR and Training Departments?

With more frequency than I like to admit, I am witnessing companies close down their training function to save money.  And yet what is more frightening is that some of these companies are reducing the HR function down to a simple clerical job to save even more money.  Both of these actions will guarantee a negative impact to the organization, so why is it happening?

The stated answers range from the basic cost savings benefit to the lack of value for the price of the service.  Both of these reasons are sadly and probably true!  The HR and the Training functions does cost money, and if they did not demonstrate enough value to retain their jobs, let alone exceed the value expected, why should they remain open?

Now from a business standpoint, it is very possible that management is planning to sell the company and they are looking to show a balance sheet value without these functions.  It is very possible they are merging with another company and the other guy has a superior operation that will take over soon.  It is also possible that management is short-sighted as to the issues they will need to deal with absent these functions and without a compelling argument by another on the team, the ax will fall.

One fact often absent is that without the HR and Training functions, the employee issues fall to the management team, and there is not enough space here to go on about how unskilled most managers are these days to handle those issues.

But when the HR and the Training functions are not providing value, and arrogantly strut around believing they will never be out of a job, I’m in management’s corner.  My only disagreement is that the functions are still vital, but in eliminating the employees leading the functions they shoot themselves in the foot by closing the whole department.  Management needs to learn how to manage the poor performance, eliminate the employee if necessary, and replace them with a better qualified person, but keep the department open.

I’m very impressed with a company right now that lost their training manager and are not immediately replacing him.  I don’t have all the details of why this person left, but from previous conversations it was far from a match made in heaven and probably a joint decision to part ways.  Anyhow, the company has decided to step back and evaluate the needs of the role now and in the future.  They are deciding what they should do now with the function before they begin interviewing again.

This pause is surely frustrating to applicants that would like to apply for this job, but it is a very smart move on the company’s part to really understand what they want to do with training before they start looking for someone who can make it happen.  Yet the best part is that their HR leader is very strong and strategic, so training will not be eliminated.

I can only imagine how this would be different without this strong HR leader in place.  It could easily be their manager calling the shots and time dragging on for months before they move forward.  The person that the HR leader reports to can make or break the organization.  They need to understand the value and purpose of HR and Training, or they will cause more harm than good to the entire organization.


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