Line managers are not equipped to deal with complex HR issues

I’m not sure that HR was given much of a choice about becoming ‘more strategic’ – whatever that means (‘Staff pay the price for HR’s ambitions’, Personnel Today, 17 October).

Let’s be honest: employers are looking to make savings and, on the face of it, replacing numerous HR professionals with a sprinkling of HR business partners and helplines looks like an attractive proposition.

The problem is, nobody seems quite sure what the business partners are supposed to do, other than a vague ‘add value’, and ‘challenge’ (or perish).

And the ‘challenge’ part of the job is pretty difficult if the business partner either doesn’t have a place on the board, doesn’t have the clout to influence (often more senior) colleagues, or doesn’t have sufficient back-up from the top of the organisation.

Will bullying increase without HR policing this brave new world? Yes. Are line managers equipped to cope with complex HR issues? No. Does anyone care? Not until something goes horribly wrong.

Clive Hodgeon
Deputy chief executive, DVA

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