Home Thinking Aloud An HR World Of Haves And Have-Nots

An HR World Of Haves And Have-Nots


by China Gorman, Managing Director leading American operations for UNLEASH

The largest global employers have advanced development departments within their HR groups that are always on the hunt for the next technology or process they can acquire to make their people decisions smarter and to enhance the effectiveness and productivity of their team members. They have budgets and resources they can deploy to look at the future of work and the future of their relationships with talent.

And then there’s everybody else — most of whom probably don’t have their people-related staffing back to pre-recession levels, much less their technology investments. Instead of one large integrated technology suite to help them manage their people, these smaller firms likely have more than a dozen different people-related technology solutions that mostly don’t talk to each other. This leaves them struggling to get ahead of the talent issues in their organization, from recruiting to hiring to training and deployment.

The drop-off from the top tier is steep and vast — much more so than most people realize. There’s not much gradation between the hyper-advanced global companies and the smaller and slower businesses lagging far behind. The No. 1 thing that I have been shocked to find is just how big companies will get without actually having anything close to adequate HR systems in place.

The Divide Is Driving Capital to HR Startups.

If so few global firms are adequately staffed, adequately budgeted and actively focused on the future when it comes to the people, that means there are millions of other companies out there that aren’t. That’s a huge market for nimble solutions, a fact entrepreneurs and investors seem to be waking up to.

I believe the gap and the opportunity it’s creating is largely fueling the surge of investment capital coming into the HR technology startup space, because point solutions (much to the chagrin of the big system providers) are solving immediate pain-point issues for the majority of the employer population. If there is any silver lining in this current system of haves and have-nots, this is it.

The Have-Nots Don’t Have to Stay That Way.

With a little research and effort, it’s possible for smaller companies to at least chip away at this chasm between them and the large firms of the world, especially with all of the amazing point solutions from startups in the HR space hitting the market.

For example, I know a head of HR for a 500-person nonprofit in the Northeast who recently determined the organization needed a new payroll provider because their software was 12 years old, wasn’t functioning well and had been abandoned by the provider. Her solution was to attend an HR technology show and spend two days going around to every provider that had payroll as a significant part of their offerings. She narrowed the options down to three providers during the show and got proposals from each. She invited two of them in, and within four months had a new solution that they are knee-deep into implementing.

The technology solutions are out there, and many of them are attainable for smaller organizations. But they require your company to dedicate time and resources to finding solutions that truly add value.

A transformation in the way we do work is already underway, and it’s past time for smaller organizations to step up and make sure they are not left behind.


UNLEASH America will be welcoming back North America’s industry insiders, entrepreneurs and innovators in Las Vegas, May 15-16, 2018 at the Aria Resort & Casino.


China Gorman is a successful global business executive in the competitive Human Capital Management (HCM) sector. Well known for her tenure as CEO of the Great Place to Work® Institute, COO and interim CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), and President of Lee Hecht Harrison, China works with HCM organizations all over the world to enhance their brands and their go-to-market strategies.