A recent article in the Wall Street Journal (you can read it here) highlights a few very real situations where companies tried to do without HR. The most daunting story was of Outback, the restaurant chain, who, without an HR department, had to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit by forking up $19 million. Another part of the settlement - hire an HR Executive!
Let's face it, HR is evolving and most of the transactional work like processing benefits and streamlining the recruiting process can be outsourced, saving a company money to devote to other more strategic initiatives. This is where HR can really step up and play a key role in a organization - to understand where the company is heading and assist in the development of plans to get there. After all, HR IS the function that helps manage the people who actually DO the work!