The vast majority of HR departments in the UK now believe they are close enough to the core business to help their organisation achieve its goals, marking a sea change in attitudes in the profession.
This is just one of the eye-opening statistics from Personnel Today’s HR Strategy Survey, which was unveiled at the HR Forum on board the Oriana last week.
The survey of nearly 1,400 HR professionals reveals that 77% of all respondents are now close enough to the business to make a real impact.
But the research reveals a marked difference in views depending on seniority. While 90% of the HR directors surveyed say they are close enough to the business, more than one-third (34%) of HR managers and staff admit they are not.
The survey, carried out in March 2006, reveals that the top priorities for businesses over the next 12 to 18 months are cost-effectiveness, change management and growth.
However, there is a disparity between what businesses want and what HR says it is capable of delivering. The key challenge that HR says it can help with is employee engagement – yet this was ranked sixth in the list of organisational priorities.
While half of the organisations surveyed had their HR director on the board, when asked whether their departments were primarily strategic or administrative, HR professionals said the split was 35:65 respectively.
Only 37% of HR directors say strategy occupies most of their day-to-day time, compared with 42% who say that admin is the most time-consuming task.
Emma Hughes, director of group HR at opticians Specsavers, said that HR would not automatically become truly strategic just by securing a seat at the ‘top table’.
“It needs to become one of the decision-makers in the business. Strategic HR requires a full rebranding in many instances, a complete change in ways of working, of language and of attitude,” she said.