Death By HR, A Review

Death By HR is a book that every CEO should read. As should the rest of us.  Anybody’s who has been looking for work, or working for an American corporation currently or in the last few years has experienced the lunacy and extreme dysfunction in just about every function related to Human Resources. Death By HR examines why the dysfunction came about and provides the start of a road map to escape the tyranny being imposed on us.

The book does not pull it’s punches, nor should it. Right from the introduction the book lays out the case for what has happened  in all too much of American business.

This book is about the new Age of Incompetence, with brain-dead, unaccountable employees holding sinecures at the heart of our government agencies and regulated institutions like banks and hospitals, protected by affirmative action and union policies. The rot is spreading as pressure from state and federal regulation of companies increases, increasing the power of an internal compliance bureaucracy—Human Resources (HR)—that has devalued the best job candidates and employees and promoted affirmative action and diversity over team productivity.

The result has been ever-more-costly failures and a steep decline in performance. From the mortgage meltdown that brought down the world’s economy in 2008, to the disastrous launch of the website for Obamacare, major segments of business and government in the US have grown more expensive and less competent over the past few decades. Billions of dollars of waste in government contracts for IT projects, boondoggle weapons systems, and deadly service failures at the VA are in the news every day. Public schools are widely seen as mediocre, and in the poorest urban districts they are failing to provide a decent education for the students who need good schools the most to make up for bad family backgrounds. Costs for regulated services like schools, colleges, medical insurance, drugs, courts, prisons, and infrastructure like roads and bridges rise far faster than inflation, while time to complete major projects stretches out to decades, and many fail completely and are cancelled after billions have been spent. And the rot is spreading as government pushes businesses to adopt similar employment policies, with HR enforcing government mandates that compromise competitiveness and give overseas companies the advantage.

I’ve worked in everything from small companies to the Department of Energy over the years and I’ve seen the waste of time and effort created by HR policies created due to the current Progressive fad.  A certain very scary seminar during the time that sexual harassment was the “big issue” still sticks in my head.  I’ve since decided that there are very few things scarier than a predatory bureaucrat even if they do look like Mr. Peterson in Newhart.  Especially if they look like Mr. Peterson.  The way that he loved his war stories and the ‘scalps” he collected.  Never mind the ruined lives and companies that he left in his wake.

This sort of thing has become the new normal.  Typically with the bureaucrats acting outside statute on regulations promulgated inside the various agencies without Congressional action, based on one or another of the various alphabet soup acts.  Because the language of one or another of those bad laws are so vague the equal employment bureaucracy that grown up since the 1960’s has been able to do just about whatever it wants.

All too frequently what the bureaucracy wants is to destroy.  All too frequently the people who enter the labor and environmental bureaucracies do so because they want to be crusaders for justice, whatever that means.  So it’s all too easy for the bureaucrats to see the company people as the enemy. Or at least entities that need to be restrained and constrained from any kind of independent action.

Where does HR fit into this.  As Kinnison details, what as once personnel, mostly responsible for payroll and benefits has morphed into the internal bureaucracy responsible for ensuring that the government’s demands are met.  In essence HR has morphed from working for the company to being the government’s agent for ensuring that government “diversity” standards are met.

As the book makes clear, what HR doesn’t do is by and large help the organization pursue the goals the organization is trying to meet.  Indeed by demanding that affirmative action and quotas be met and being outright hostile to the best and brightest HR is acting against the company’s best interests.

The fact is that the workings of HR work against a company’s biggest asset the people working there and the information that lie in their heads.  By demanding diversity quotas and indulging in time wasters like complicated review systems that regular  employees can’t figure out and don’t really have time to complete HR works to make doing that actual work even more difficult than it already was.  This is explained in great detail in the book.

Anybody who has encountered the hiring process in the last few years has dealt with the issues raised in this book.  Those who haven’t experienced this first hand, especially top management need to understand what those who are looking for work already know.  The hiring and employment situation has become dysfunctional and intolerable.  The typical job seeker spends a great deal of time jumping through hoops set up by a HR dept. that they know hates them for their competence. If they actually, by some miracle, GET the job, the now employee knows that in addition to actually doing the work they were hired for, they will also have to waste time in pointless sessions and training due to whatever Progressive fad is ongoing, will have to watch their every step and make sure that they never ever express something that could be used against them and knows that they cold be monitored even on their private social media page. This is the “culture created by the HR depts. in just about every company out there.  Which is the reason for this excellent and necessary book. Highly recommended.

Minor disclaimer.  The author is a Facebook friend and some of the material came from this blog.  I’ve also posted chapters here as well. That doesn’t change the fact that what’s going on is a huge issue that is hurting American business, employment and the economy.



  1. penneyvanderbilt · October 16, 2016

    Reblogged this on KCJones.


  2. davidhuntpe · October 17, 2016

    Reblogged this on David Hunt, PE… Mechanical Engineer on the loose! and commented:
    Let’s be fair, HR serves a purpose. But this is an excellent review – will have to go get the book.


    • Sam L. · October 17, 2016

      Yes, but now HR’s purpose is to fulfill government requirements that hinder the business (and likely hire more HR people.)


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