Line managers expected to take on HR

Line managers are increasingly being expected to take charge of people management responsibilities, according to a survey by Personnel Today’s sister publication Employment Review.

The online survey of 121 organisations, collectively employing almost a quarter of a million people, shows that four in five (80.2%) organisations have devolved responsibilities such as managing flexible working requests and handling grievance and disciplinary procedures to line managers over the past three years. And two in three predict the role of line managers will take on even more HR functions over the next three years.

However, the findings show that HR practitioners are not always impressed with the way that line managers carry out these responsibilities, and they are judged as ineffective in three main areas: training and development, maintaining personnel records, and absence management.

One in three (34.4%) organisations report that line managers do not do a very good job of developing their teams, and three in 10 (28.2%) feel that their approach to ongoing training is ineffective. Two in three (66%) HR practitioners also believe that line managers were either indifferent or reluctant to carry out their team development responsibilities.

Two-thirds (67.8%) of the organisations surveyed by IRS give line managers a role in maintaining or updating personnel records. But half of the HR practitioners believed the line managers performed this role badly.

And while they are increasingly being expected to take some responsibility for absence management (97% of organisations expected them to play some role), almost half the HR practitioners believed line managers flunked this duty, too.

HR practitioners believe training for line managers in people management should be compulsory, and that support and training are inadequate.

Just under half of the organisations surveyed ensured that all line managers were trained for their people management responsibilities, with coaching and mentoring being the most popular training method. But three-quarters (77.5%) said they had trouble getting line managers to attend training.

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