Line managers given increasing responsibility for HR roles: Work practices

Line managers are increasingly being expected to take on responsibilities that they are neither willing nor able to fulfil effectively, HR professionals have warned.

A survey by Personnel Today’s sister title IRS Employment Review – based on in-depth interviews with HR practitioners at 58 UK firms, which together employ more than 58,000 staff – found that six in 10 companies had made line managers responsible for a greater range of HR duties over the past three years. A similar proportion expected to continue doing so in the years to come.

But more than half the HR professionals surveyed said that line managers were indifferent or reluctant to take on new roles, while just one in four said line managers were good at such responsibilities as managing staff absence, dealing with appraisals or training employees.

Researchers also discovered that employers typically appoint new first-line managers because they are good at their current job, rather than because they have the communication and leadership skills that will be needed in the new role.

The survey found that while 81% of organisations train new line managers in their people management responsibilities, fewer than half the HR practitioners questioned (49%) thought the training was adequate.

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