Senior finance managers admit that their organisations are struggling to
report on the business impact of workforce issues.
A survey of 200 UK board directors, senior finance managers and other
managers from a wide cross-section of company sizes and industry sectors, by
research company Webster Buchanan, found that while most respondents are
comfortable with basic HR metrics, few are focusing on broader performance
For example, 60 per cent of respondents ranked themselves above average at
reporting absenteeism rates – but only one-third claimed to be above average in
measuring the business impact of non-attendance, and one-third actually ranked
themselves as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.
The findings suggest that companies will face major challenges meeting the
recent recommendations of the ‘Accounting for People’ report issued in October
2003 by the government-backed Task Force on Human Capital Management (HCM).
The survey, carried out in association with Financial Computing magazine,
also found that only three in 10 respondents ranked themselves better than
average at reporting on the relationship between compensation and performance,
with around the same number describing themselves as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.
Keith Rodgers, co-founder of Webster Buchanan Research, said: "The
findings are clear: human capital reporting presents significant challenges for
the finance department, the HR function and the board of almost every
organisation. The Accounting for People report has been a great catalyst for
this debate; now organisations need to take a practical approach to address the
metrics and the IT implications."
The Task Force on Human Capital Management, which was set up by the
secretary of state for trade and industry, stressed in Accounting for People
that the way organisations manage their people affects their performance. It
made a number of recommendations on how to improve HCM reporting in areas such
as employee retention, skills management, and remuneration.
By Quentin Reade
A fuller analysis of the findings of this survey is available in
Accounting for People – A Practical Approach to Improving Human Capital
Reporting. Published by Personnel Today and Webster Buchanan research, this is
an online report on all aspects of HCM. Available from 30 March. Enquiries: