Pan-European survey finds HR in large firms is improving business focus

HR is ramping up its role in large companies while transforming the way it delivers its services to organisations, according to a pan-European study. 

The study, carried out by HR consultancy Hewitt Associates, involved 53 organisations, which employ more than three million people. It explored the emerging business practices and priorities of the HR function across countries and sectors in Europe.

It shows that seven out of 10 participants believe that changing the way HR delivers its services is the most compelling HR issue to be faced by their organisation in 2007.

Supporting organisational effectiveness emerges as the primary goal of the HR function, while the management of change, and talent attraction and retention continue to be the top underlying HR objectives for six out of 10 respondents.

Labour cost management and personnel administration receive the least attention and are identified as a top goal in less than 10% of participant organisations.

The research also revealed a high level of satisfaction of HR directors in their job. Three-quarters of participants indicated that they like their company and their role, while only 4% would give up their HR role and move to another function.

In line with last year’s results, the study showed that talent management is the area where HR has the greatest impact on business performance. Survey respondents expect an even greater emphasis on talent management over the next three years.

Leonardo Sforza, head of EU affairs and research at Hewitt Associates, and chairman of the committee leading the study, said: “This year’s barometer highlights HR’s greater focus and direct contribution to facing compelling business imperatives.

“The high rate of trust expressed by HR executives for both their CEOs and for the workforce of their company is an ideal starting point for moving forward the process of HR transformation in Europe.

“The conditions are there for a definitive shift of HR from being a cost administrative centre to becoming an agent to drive business performance across an organisation.”

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