Public sector values HR as strategic business partner

Public sector organisations are most likely to offer HR professionals a strategic role, including their own budgets and documented strategy, research shows.

Most public sector boardrooms (63 per cent) offer a seat on the board to their most senior HR manager, whereas only about 40 per cent of private sector organisations will do so.

However, despite public sector HR departments being more likely to have the trappings of a strategic role, they also spend more of their time on administrative activities than those in the private sector.

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

The annual HR Benchmarks Survey polled 128 organisations employing more than 95,000 people. It shows that a typical HR department has one HR practitioner for every 109 employees, but this varies according to the size of the organisation and the sector.

Public sector organisations also tend to have relatively large HR departments in comparison to the number of employees they are responsible for.

IRS Employment Review managing editor, Mark Crail, said: “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 opportunities for career advancement.”

Key survey findings

  • 73 per cent of respondents believe HR has become more influential in the past five years, while 7 per cent believe its influence has declined
  • 57 per cent said their HR budget had increased during the past five years, but for 24 per cent it had decreased and 19 per cent saw no change
  • 46 per cent expect the value of the HR budget to rise in the next five years, 40 per cent expect no change, 13 per cent expect a cut
  • 70 per cent expect managers to hold a formal qualification
  • 28 per cent have a director with sole responsibility for HR
  • Only 13 per cent had outsourced any activities in the past two years
  • 40 per cent measured the effectiveness of HR and its contribution to business success, 50 per cent did not
  • 62 per cent of organisations have control of their own budget. Those with more than a 1,000 employees are more likely to control their finances.

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