Imagine Loving HR Again

In her Ted Talk,  Why Art Thrives at Burning Man, Nora Atkinson poses the question: Why in this increasingly digital age are people still coming out into the desert, in extreme conditions to make art? And the answer: it’s because of the human connection.

In the world in which I work, we talk about making everything digital — “digital transformation.” But I am also an artist, an empath and a creative, who craves human connection to ideas, passions, innovations, art, music and dance. I used to think I was different than everyone else – but now I’m not really sure that’s true. In fact, we talk about “millennials” wanting more purpose and meaning in their work; more time to balance life and enjoy personal interactions. But it’s not really the millennials. It is all of us.

We are not so digital as we think.

We are, however, at the pinnacle of possibilities to use our digital prowess to improve the quality of life, to eliminate the nagging issues that derail a day, to create a simpler and more meaningful work experience so that there is more time to embrace life itself.

Sound corny? Maybe. But it is, I believe, exactly what we must do to recharge HR.

As an HR specialist, my job was to keep things moving, answer employee questions with empathy and honesty – sometimes getting yelled at in the process because employees were frustrated.

As an IT leader, one of my accountabilities was to ensure that payroll ran on time and accurately 3 times a week in 3 separate payroll runs. Monday and Thursday nights there was a collective holding of breath until payroll was complete and the file out the door to the bank. And if for some reason the bank didn’t receive the file or couldn’t read it – there was panic in the morning.

As an employee and a consumer, I have spent endless hours unraveling a service issue, waiting on hold for (what should be) a simple answer, researching the best benefit plan, product or service to meet my needs and tracking the order and the payment. And all of this deflected from real work I should be accomplishing.

These experiences convince me we’re doing something wrong, we’re missing an opportunity, a chance to be better employers, better customer service reps, better humans.

Yeah yeah I know – I’m wading into corny again. But listen. I have some ideas. And I bet you do too. [Queue the dream sequence music here.]

If I were going to digitally transform HR, to start with, it would be a ton more people friendly. . .

woman laying on field of green grass
Photo by bruce mars on






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