HR departments take performance on trust

Most HR departments make no real attempt to measure the effectiveness of what they do, according to a survey by Personnel Today’s sister publication, Employment Review.

Just four out of 10 HR practitioners taking part in the study said their organisation had formal methods of measuring the impact of people management initiatives on the business, with just one in four comparing their performance with external benchmarks.

But among those that do, almost all use a selection of different measures, including some that assess processes and others that look at performance.

The most common sources of data used in measuring HR performance are absence rates (85%), employee surveys (73%) and the number and outcomes of disciplinary and grievance hearings (71%).

More than half also assess their performance against staff turnover data (68%), feedback from exit interviews (68%) and spending against budget (63%).

In all, three-quarters (73%) of the organisations surveyed said they had a formal HR budget, but just one in five (19%) of these said last year’s spend was in line with the sum allocated.

The fifth annual HR Roles and Responsibilities survey includes responses from HR practitioners at 128 organisations, which together employ 3,660 HR staff and have a total of 677,310 employees.

…but the HR profession’s influence and status are improving

Despite a lack of formal metrics to prove it, HR practitioners believe their work is held in increasingly high regard by senior managers, the research reveals.

Three out of five of those surveyed (62%) say that HR has grown in influence over the past two years, with panel members in smaller organisations and manufacturing companies most likely to report good news on this front.

Two-thirds of organisations (68%) reserve a place on the board for HR, most commonly in the shape of a director solely responsible for HR (43%), and less frequently with responsibilities for non-HR areas of the business (25%).

But while public sector employers are most likely to have an HR director, they are also more likely to couple the job with other duties.

The most senior HR executive is most likely to report to the chief executive (33%) or managing director (30%). But in smaller firms, one in five HR managers reports to the finance director – a situation almost unheard of in the largest organisations.

…and every HR pro is one in a hundred

The typical HR practitioner has to deal with the problems of 118 employees, the survey shows.

The ratio is lowest in the public sector, where the median figure (the midpoint in the range) is one HR practitioner to every 94 staff, rising to 1:109 in private sector services companies and 1:156 among manufacturers.

Half of all public sector HR departments have HR to employee ratios between 1:76 and 1:186. Those in the private sector cover a far wider spread.

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