One in three HR departments makes no attempt to measure how effective its interventions are, according to a study by Personnel Today’s sister publication, Employment Review.
The survey of 188 organisations, which together have more than 785,000 employees, found that just 28% had a formal system of metrics to measure the work of their HR departments. A further 41% used “informal measures”, and 32% had no measurements at all.
The figures show that larger organisations and those in the public sector are far more likely to adopt formal methods of assessing HR effectiveness.
Just 14% of organisations with less than 250 employees used formal measures, compared with 23% of those with 250 to 999 employees, and 42% of those with 1,000 or more employees.
One in four (23%) of the largest organisations did not measure HR at all, compared with four out of 10 (41%) of the smallest organisations.
Employers in the public sector (42%) were twice as likely to use formal measures as those in manufacturing industries (19%). One in four private sector services firms used formal measures.
No attempt was made to gauge HR effectiveness in 47% of manufacturing firms, 31% of private sector services firms, or 23% of public sector organisations.
Least measured think they’re great…
HR departments in public sector organisations are most likely to see themselves as being ineffective or, at best, average.
Those in smaller organisations were most likely to rate themselves as above average, the survey shows.
Respondents were asked to rate their HR department on a scale of one to five, where one was low and five was high, on the basis of the measures used by their own organisation.
Overall, 51% rated themselves at levels one to three, and 49% at levels four and five. These categories were then used to denote “ineffective” and “effective” HR departments.
On this basis, six out of 10 HR departments (60%) in organisations with less than 250 employees rated themselves as effective, compared with under half of those with between 250 and 999 employees (41%) and of those with 1,000 or more employees (46%).
Just over half (53%) of the private sector services firms considered that their HR departments were effective, compared with just under half (48%) of manufacturing companies, and rather fewer public sector organisations (43%).
…but effective HR has different priorities
Effective and ineffective HR departments are driven by different internal and external forces in two main areas, the Employment Review research shows.
Effective HR departments are nearly twice as likely to regard communication with employees as exerting a great deal of influence over their work priorities, and nearly twice as likely to believe that they themselves have a substantial amount of control over their own working priorities within the organisation.
Although ineffective HR departments are significantly more likely to see government funding opportunities as a key driving force behind which areas gain greater focus, this is not likely to be the case for all HR professionals. It is likely that this reflects the relatively low effectiveness scores those HR practitioners in the public sector awarded themselves.
And while organisations of all types and sizes identified many of the same priorities, those with effective HR departments were significantly more likely to see training, work-life balance and stress as important areas of work.