HR profession urged to stick to guns despite sniping from line managers

Senior HR figures have urged the profession to stick to its guns after line managers attacked its performance during the economic downturn.

A poll of 858 managers by research firm Roffey Park found that just 30% thought HR was adding value to their organisation – down from 33% a year ago, and 34% in 2007.

Managers believed HR professionals remained too reactive to events, with just 11% saying the department produced ‘relevant and timely initiatives’.

Jo Hennessy, research director at Roffey Park, said: “HR professionals need to adapt the way they operate if they are to succeed in gaining the support of line managers. Demonstrating a contribution to business is even more critical in such difficult economic times.”

But Angela O’Connor, chief people officer at the National Policing Improvement Agency, told Personnel Today that valuing of colleagues always dropped as anxiety levels rose in times of economic hardship.

“Ignore the surveys,” she said. “Get out there with managers, and share the load with them of dealing with the difficult issues caused by the economy.”

Barry Hoffman, HR director at IT outsourcing provider Computacenter, said managers had to engage creatively with HR departments to ensure their organisations had long-term futures.

“Allow us to add value – pigeon-hole us at your peril,” he added defiantly.

Jackie Orme, chief executive at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said HR was making a greater contribution to business performance than it ever had done.

“My advice to HR is to not get diverted by the constant whingeing from the sidelines, and to get on with the task of preparing the business to survive today and thrive tomorrow,” she said.

Line managers’ on HR

  • 30% of managers believed HR added value
  • 24% of managers believed HR was proactive
  • 45% of middle managers believed HR lacked credibility

Source: Roffey Park’s Management Agenda 2009

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