“We Make People Move” is the first in a 10-part series outlining the concepts included in “The Physics of HR; Mastering the Laws of Motion,” the Whitaker joint set to publish in mid-2016.

We make people move.

That’s the answer.

The question? “What does Human Resources really do?”

Our profession is blowing up. In addition to our traditional role(s) within the organization, technological advances continue to expand our reach, our capabilities, and have also provided a platform for collaboration and idea-sharing via digital and social media. We now concern ourselves with things like branding, engagement, culture, and the “candidate experience;” big, ethereal, global concepts that we’re continually trying to get our hands around. You could easily make the case that at no time in our history has Human Resources been so expansive, so strategic, and/or so complicated. The “art” of HR is now a science, too.

Our own governing body has actually spent the last several years building a new competency model for HR professionals (not coincidentally, they have also created a new certification model to grab more of your HR dollar – that’s another column.) In fairness, the effort was needed – the job is changing to the point where an identity crisis could develop. All you have to do is browse a selection of LinkedIn profiles to see the titles and job descriptions various HR pro’s are using to attempt to explain what they “do.” We’re all over the map trying to capture the breadth of our responsibilities. So here’s how SHRM defines the role of Human Resources:

– “The formal structure within an organization responsible for all the decisions, strategies, factors, principles, operations, practices, functions, activities, and methods related to the management of people.”

Pretty comprehensive, yes? My goal was to simplify the message, while still capturing the essence of the job – here’s the #WorkplaceScientist definition of Human Resources:

– The study of the properties and nature of people and processes, focusing on “how” and “why” people move.


It need not be any more complicated than that. Over the next 10 weeks, I’m going to share some of the thoughts that led me here.

Let’s move.