Public sector offers HR more strategic role

The public sector is more likely to offer HR professionals a strategic role, including their own budgets and documented strategy, and most public sector boardrooms (63 per cent) offer a seat on the board to their most senior HR manager.

The findings come from a survey released today by Personnel Today’s sister publication IRS Employment Review, which questioned employers offering the broadest HR experience and best career development. 

The annual HR Benchmarks Survey of 128 organisations employing 95,880 people, shows that the typical HR department has one HR practitioner for every 109 employees, but this varies according to organisation size and sector.

This headline figure also disguises the fact that the larger an organisation, the lower its HR:employee ratio. Public sector organisations also tend to have relatively large HR departments compared with the number of staff they oversee.

IRS Employment Review managing editor, Mark Crail, said: “Our respondents report that HR has become increasingly influential in recent years, often because new leadership has enabled it to be taken more seriously, and because the regulatory environment has become more demanding. But if power and influence are important, the public sector may provide greater career opportunities.”

Key points:

  • More than seven in 10 (73 per cent) survey respondents believe that HR has become more influential in their organisation over the past five years, while less than one in 10 (7 per cent) believe that its influence has declined
  • More than half (57 per cent) revealed that their HR budget had increased during the past five years, but for just under a quarter (24 per cent), it had decreased. Nineteen per cent said their budget had not changed
  • Just under half (46 per cent) expect the value of their HR budget to increase over the next five years, while 40 per cent expect it to remain static. Only 13 per cent expect it to fall
  • More than two-thirds (70 per cent) of respondents said they would expect HR managers to hold a formal qualification, while a further 24 per cent prefer this to be the case
  • Twenty-eight per cent said that HR has a voice at the boardroom table through a director with sole responsibility for HR, while 17 per cent said it has a voice through a director with responsibility for HR and other matters.
  • Less than two in 10 respondents (13 per cent) had outsourced any work in the past two years, despite constant predictions that HR outsourcing is about to take off 
  • Four in 10 respondents (40 per cent) measured the effectiveness of HR and its contribution to business success, while half did not, and 10 per cent did not know whether their organisation measured effectiveness.


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