Chief executives slam HR over talent shortages and high wages

Chief executives are putting personnel issues at the top of their agenda for 2007 – but fear that HR professionals are not up to the task of dealing with them.

An Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) survey of more than 1,000 business leaders found that they now see talent shortages and high wages as their biggest challenges.

But only 33% of CEOs think their talent managers are performing above average, compared with 60% who rate their financial staff.

EIU senior editor James Watson said: “The profession has a very difficult time on its hands. HR is rated as performing quite poorly – there is a concern about them getting the right people in.”

High labour costs were cited by 46% of CEOs in developed markets as the biggest barrier to growth over the next three years.
Meanwhile, a lack of available local talent was named as the biggest barrier by 51% of those operating in emerging markets.

“If there is one thing limiting to growth, it is people and talent,” said Tejpreet Chopra, CEO of GE’s Commercial Finance business in India.

John Fraser, chief executive of UBS Global Asset Management, added: “The days of regarding HR as a service are long gone. HR is critical to senior managers.”

Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development assistant director-general Duncan Brown said it was time for HR professionals to stand up and be counted.

“HR is in a pretty tough place at this time,” he said. “There is no quick solution to people management issues, and this is not a welcome message in the fast world of chief executives.

“Some HR professionals have not been able to step up to the strategic plate, but the tide is turning. We need confident, competent HR staff willing to take the message to chief executives.”


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