HR lacks skills in business arena

HR must have more business-specific training and spend less time on
administration if the function is to play a more central role in corporate

This is the view of Michael Emmerson, the new senior HR business partner at
Barclays Private Bank, who was speaking last week at Penna’s HR Professional
Relationship with the Business forum. Emmerson believes HR professionals need
access to business-related training to give them a better picture of how
companies are operated.

"As a function we have to play a much more strategic role. In the past
HR training has been functional, but there’s now a need to think more carefully
about how people will get this commercial awareness without proper
training," he said.

Emmerson said there is currently no training available to help HR develop
these valuable business skills. "HR is an evolving function and has only
just caught up with what was happening in business a few years ago, but now
everything has changed, so you always have to keep learning," he said.

He thinks more companies should consider ways of allowing HR to pass on some
of its administrative burden to enable the function to become more strategic
and commercially aware, such as the shared services approach adopted by
Barclays Private Bank.

"The range of things HR does as a discipline is huge and the time
available to do the strategic part needs to be increased. At Barclays, a team
does a lot of the admin stuff which leaves more time for HR to become a
business partner," he said.

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