HR chiefs refute findings that they lack influence

Personnel directors have challenged a survey of their own ranks which found that four in five companies are unhappy with the impact of HR on the business.

A consultants’ global survey of HR directors and specialists in 977 organisations across Europe and the Middle East found that only 19 per cent of respondents were satisfied with the influence that HR was having on the development of business strategy.

Robert Ingram, HR director of Cap Gemini Ernst and Young, said the findings could be a result of managers’ misconceptions of what HR is trying to do. “When things go well, managers like to grab the glory – but when they go badly they like to blame the HR department,” he said.

“Just because we are not the most popular department does not necessarily mean we have the least value.”

Paul Pagliari, HR director of Scottish Power, described the results as surprising, and added, “I find it difficult to comprehend why an organisation would be unhappy and not act to remedy the problem. My chief executive would be telling me if he was unhappy and if it was not resolved there inevitably would be a parting of the ways.”

The findings are in the HR Benchmarking Report 2000 from PricewaterhouseCoopers, which surveyed 23 UK organisations.

The survey urged HR directors to free themselves from the shackles of administration and demonstrate a strategic role in the development of the organisation.

General HR administration still took up the largest amount of time in HR departments, with survey results indicating 16.5 per cent of HR time was taken up with paperwork.

HR departments spent 10.6 per cent of their time on recruitment and 9.9 per cent of their time on training and education, according to the survey.

But the results showed departments spent much less time on issues such as HR planning, HR policy, management development and organisational design.

Nearly 40 per cent of companies were found to be dissatisfied with key recruitment and retention policies, stating they were ineffective in the “war for talent” and lacking in strategic direction.

www.pricewaterhousecoopers.co.uk

By Richard Staines

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