In the corporate world, the staffing department is almost always part of the HR department. Over the years, some protagonists have argued that the staffing department should be separate to HR. That discussion is not the subject of this particular post. This post is about the relationship between the staffing department and HR, a relationship that is often tenuous at best and a relationship that often doesn't work as well as it should.

Staffing is responsible for filling employee requisitions and hiring the people that the organization needs when the organization needs them. Usually Staffing is involved from when the need is identified until a person accepts an offer and sometimes through on-boarding. In many organizations, Staffing works autonomously up until the point that a new employee starts. In others, Staffing works with the Compensation Department to make sure that offers are equitable with existing staff compensation. There are many different relationships between Staffing and HR, ranging from totally integrated to almost separate and sometimes but rarely completely separate.

Following are some things that I've observed:

  • HR is very concerned that Staffing follow all the applicable laws, rules and procedures to keep the organization out of trouble and to make sure all applicants, including internal applicants, are treated fairly. I've noticed that HR can be very firm on what should happen except when actually hiring for HR. It's funny how candidates who meet basic qualifications are rejected for a whole host of reasons that would not be accepted from other parts of the organization.
  • Staffing believes that a lot of what HR does is pretty much a waste of time. Staffing rarely sees the link between the questionable hires it makes and an increased load on the Employee Relations Department in HR.
  • HR will question any hires where compensation doesn't fit within established guidelines. Sometimes it's necessary to be creative to land a franchise player. HR doesn't usually care too much about that.
  • Staffing thinks that HR is always slow to respond. HR thinks that Staffing's desire for an instant response to questions is insane.
  • HR thinks that recruiters can barely be trusted to do a complete and thorough job. They expect incomplete and shoddy paperwork from Staffing. Staffing thinks that HR is a bunch of knit pickers and wonders why they can't run with what they have?
  • HR thinks that outplacement company databases are great places to find available and talented candidates. Staffing thinks that the best outplaced candidates will apply online for the jobs that interest them and will network their way into the organization.
  • HR thinks that responding to every resume that is received by snail mail is the right thing to do. Staffing thinks that if someone can't apply online that they aren't worth speaking with.
  • Staffing wants everything done now. HR wants everything done later.
  • Staffing wants to take obvious actions that are needed. HR wants to research and consider all the options.
  • HR is very concerned with providing a high level of service, especially to the executive level. Staffing wants to fill requisitions.
  • Staffing is expert at removing road blocks to get things done. HR can be a road block.
  • Staffing handles the fun part in hiring people. HR deals with the challenging parts in disciplining poor performers and firing people.
  • Sometimes Staffing has nothing to do when there is no hiring to be done. HR always has work to do.

It seems to me that we have two very different groups of people with different roles and responsibilities and different views on what is important and how to get things done. And yet HR and Staffing must work together. Does HR see Staffing as its rebellious child? I suspect that often it does. On the flip side, however, Staffing often sees HR as a meddlesome parent who just won't leave it alone. Maybe Staffing is the rebellious teenager, full of energy, enthusiasm, and ready to try almost everything new? Sometimes teenagers need their parents to set guidelines and to curb unruly behavior.

Views: 108

Tags: HR, child, different, human, rebellious, resources, responsbilities, roles, staffing, view

Comment by Dr Simon Harding on December 12, 2010 at 9:14am
Interesting. How do you think general management sees the whole of HR ?
Comment by Simon Meth on December 12, 2010 at 12:33pm
Dr S, I think that general management doesn't think much about HR unless they need something such as to deal with a difficult employee. Mostly they think that HR is to be avoided.
Comment by Simon Meth on December 18, 2010 at 11:49am

If you work in HR or with a corporate staffing department, could you please give me your thoughts on this post?

Comment by Deanna Hunter on December 29, 2010 at 1:19pm

From where I sit, this article does not hit home at all.  I'm lucky enough to work with an organization that sees all of "HR's" work through the eyes of the employee or potential employee, and NOT through the eyes of Compensation or Benefits or Recruiting/Staffing, etc.  If any of these groups whose work it is to take care of people in an organization takes this approach, they will see that employees (or potential employees) don't separate out the various HR functions - they just experience the organization and all of the things that happen during their time there, including their recruitment experience, their pay, their benefits package, etc.


We don't see HR's work as a series of separate functions, but rather as a bunch of people who are concerned with an employees' experience with our organization.  With this approach, we all work together as one team. 

Comment by Simon Meth on December 29, 2010 at 3:16pm

Thank you for your comments Brian. I found them interesting. You seem to have missed a key sentence: "Following are some things that I've observed." I have observed everything that I wrote about. I'm not saying that any of it is good or bad but that I have observed it. I'm not saying that any of what I observed is always the case. You seem to think that I did.

You're right that this is an opinion piece. I respect your right to your opinion that it "offers little if no value to the Recruiting Community." I'm not clear that your comment is particularly constructive however.

I happen to believe that being really clear about what some people think has great value. Your suggestions in your last paragraph strike me as condescending. It's impossible to create a workable solution without first truly understanding the problem. What you seem to have missed is that my opinion is that there isn't a problem here at all. There is a natural structural tension between various groups within any company. That's normal and exactly the way it should be.

Comment by Simon Meth on December 29, 2010 at 3:25pm
Thanks Deanna. My experience is in-line with yours: employees and potential employees see HR as one organization. Are you saying that you've never seen anything that I wrote about anywhere that you worked? If that's the case then I would be shocked! Where I work we work together as a team as well, a team of specialists, each with our own area of expertise and knowledge. What I wrote about points to my assertion that everyone on the team doesn't have to think or act the same way about everything. Different views and experiences allow the team to provide first rate support to customers. It's just a matter of passing the ball to the right player...
Comment by Gene Leshinsky on December 30, 2010 at 3:17pm

I'm contracting in the HR of a large law firm and staffing and HR ( myself and 2 others) work hand in hand. It's a fantastic relationship. Most of your points don't resonate here but I found them amusing and perhaps they are pertinent to bigger and older firms, although we are almost 140 years old ourselves.


One point in particular about outside agencies is that HR has over the last 2 years with the help of a very good recruiter brought down the agency dependency from near 100% to almost below 10% of all hires. All the recruiters here are from agencies or consulting firms so we are all head hunters and rarely wait for people to apply online before sourcing them direct. There is a consensus within the department that the firm has to come to us before engaging any outside agencies and we engage those only in dire emergencies.


HR does a great job of isolating the head hunters from the paperwork allowing us to source and recruit and get the talent pipeline filled. At the same time we can quantify how much money we are saving the firm and it is a significant amount.

Comment by Simon Meth on December 30, 2010 at 7:25pm
Thanks Gene! I'll take amusing . While your comments about "reducing agency dependency from near 100% to almost below 10%" will probably not be popular here on, I've seen similar results where I work. Over the past 7+ years I have paid maybe 20 agency fees in the over 600 people that I've placed.
Comment by Mark on January 3, 2011 at 6:29pm

Thanks for the post.  It has to be pretty timely or people would not still be chiming in on what you've said.  I can't agree 100% but, you've certainly identified some salient points.


In my organization, Recruiting is part of Operations.  We deliver a product to HR so that they can make an offer.  We fill req's from Account Managers and Project Managers.  I've been doing this for a bit over 2 years now and I've hired many good engineers and techs.  One thing that I like is the interface with people, one thing that I hate is that I glued to an office.


I don't see much of a value add from outside agencies unless we want to hire an H1 visa holder.  They're pretty expensive and don't deliver a better product than I can do myself.  Since the team and I have increased volume, we don't use them.


What HR does is very serious stuff.  The company can be penalized by the IRS or someone else from Big Brother if something is not right;  they have the harder job.  I've become an advocate for HR concerns during the hiring process and I make sure from the start that the squares are checked.  It makes our process much easier.

Comment by Simon Meth on January 3, 2011 at 8:06pm
You're welcome Mark. Recruiting as part of Ops is a nice, if unusual, twist. I think, if I were setting up a staffing department, I'd create it as a separate unit with close ties to HR. Of course, the right thing to do would depend on the situation. If aggressive staffing is needed then separate it best. If staffing is mostly replacements, some adds, and internal transfers then part of HR is best. As always, it depends on the ultimate goal or what you want to achieve...


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