Is human capital management (HCM) the holy grail of HR, or the emperor’s new clothes? At the latest Personnel Today HR Directors Club Workshop event in London last week, which was supported by Oracle, some of the UK’s leading HR professionals debated the issue.
Professor William Scott-Jackson, centre for applied HR research, Oxford Brookes University, said: “HR directors are frightened to make numbers up, but sales and market-ing do it. As long as they are based on some sort of detail, it is fine. Work out what you believe and then find statistics that back you up.”
Michael Griffin, executive director of HR, King’s College Hospital, said: “The term ‘HCM’ puts up barriers for me. I also question the legitimacy of the term ‘capital’, as it is a depreciating asset. The challenge for HR is to prove that people are an appreciating asset.”
Linda Smith, HR director, Accord, said: “If we give too many statistics, we could go backwards again and be perceived as record-keepers. It has to be a measure of the value.”
Brian Cormican, business development, HCM, Oracle: “There are a lot of people out there who don’t do the simple things. Do some of these, and then migrate up.”
Ruth Altman, director of HR and development, Cranfield University, said: “HR people aren’t brave enough. No-one challenges figures coming from the finance director, so don’t assume they’ll question yours.”
Shirley Pointer, director for HR and change management, DTI, said: “The HR profession needs to get evidence to justify investment in IT systems. It is scary that it is not being done. Fit your argument to the strategic aim of the board.”
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