HR should be next in line for Uberfication

Uber_BusinessIn just seven years, taxi app Uber has turned a century-old industry upside down. I recently took my first journey in an Uber car and – as well as being impressed by its service – I quickly realised that HR has a lot to learn from this ‘disruptive’ organisation.

New modelThe essence of Uber’s success can be distilled to just one thing: pace. Since 2000, change has become synonymous with pace. Change is happening across all industries and at uncontrollable speeds, hitting HR hard. We need to take a leaf out of Uber’s handbook and embrace change.

Because change is something that HR traditionally struggles with. We have become experts at relaunching ourselves and rebranding our services – without substantially revising what we’re doing. We let anyone write a book about HR and instantly cry ‘eureka’ and alter our name, our direction and our mantra. But how many HR departments have actually successfully repositioned themselves as a credible value-added service?

Reduce cost and timeSo what can we learn from Uber? Having a highly polished, clean car used to be a competitive advantage in the taxi industry, but that has changed. Uber drivers use ordinary cars and the firm allows users to rate drivers for their friendliness, cooperation and effectiveness – and provides a service that is priced well below typical cab fares.

Just as polishing the wheels on your traditional taxi is now a waste of energy, so is tweaking an outdated bureaucratic HR model by regularly changing its name. If your personnel department never actually evolved beyond changing its name to HR, it will forever remain a hindrance to managers and staff. And, in the absence of good service, our customers will look elsewhere. Third-party online HR services are continuing to evolve into credible alternatives that will be the in-house HR team’s ‘Uber’ nemesis.

Outsourced HRUber innovated in three ways: it reduced costs, allowed untrained operators into the market and empowered users. These are ways in which online HR services – or an ‘UberHR’ – pose a real threat to the traditional HR function. We cannot wait for the next book or keynote speech to be published; we have to change now because the customer is demanding something different from us and outsourced services are already gaining ground.

HR must see the need for change and adapt to it, while never compromising on the real purpose of modern HR provision. Innovation exists within our profession – now it’s time to set it free.

Crucially, Uber understands the real rationale behind the taxi industry: moving people from A to B, rather than designing sumptuous methods of transport. Similarly, HR needs greater clarity about it’s purpose, and not get distracted by its processes. Having the best-looking taxi fleet – or best-looking HR processes – just isn’t the point anymore.HR diagramFundamentally, Uber is winning market share because it’s on the user’s side. So perhaps we shouldn’t fear UberHR, but look forward to the emergence of a confident HR profession that embraces its users and puts their experiences at its core.

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RS Hunter Limited

RS Hunter Limited is a human resources consulting firm based in Nigeria that has over the years grown to become one of the leading providers of best practice HR solutions to small and medium-scale enterprises' as well as multinationals. We offer advisory, recruitment, training and outsourcing services. Visit for more information.

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