People management link to performance proved

In response to the letter by Paul Kearns ‘Independent HR research fails to enhance our image‘, Personnel Today, 11 March), while it is true that our sponsors were interested in the subject matter of our research it does not mean that they unduly or unfairly influenced the result. Both IES and the Work Foundation are independent research organisations with deservedly strong reputations and we would not put our names to something that was inaccurate or misleading.

The full report gives detailed findings, some of which are positive and others less so in terms of commonly accepted notions of what works in HR. A more detailed read would reveal that this is no whitewash.

The research did find strong relationships between people management practice and business performance even when a whole host of potentially influencing factors were taken into account (including an organisation’s previous financial performance).

Kearns implies that there are those who know what works and don’t need research to test it. We suggest that, for most of us, our understanding is advanced by serious testing and scrutiny, and we need to heed what social researchers and HR practitioners can tell us.

The greatest danger to any profession lies in assuming that it has nothing further to understand. Luckily most in HR know that.

Penny Tamkin
Project manager,
People and the Bottom Line, and programme director management and leadership, Work Foundation

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