With Duncan Brown at the helm of the CIPD as the new assistant director general, what is it doing to help its members in these uncertain times? By Mike Broad
A pile of 'challenges' is currently occupying HR's in-tray, and staff dissatisfaction and the productivity gap sit at the very top.
These are not new additions and, if you believe the research, HR will be wrestling with them for some time to come - unless there is dramatic change in the prevailing psychological contract in the near future.
In 2002 - in the midst of an economic downturn - educators and influencers are needed more than ever to support HR's efforts to deliver change on the ground, and the 'new' man at the CIPD says the representative body can grow to fulfil this role.
Duncan Brown was recruited from Towers Perrin six months ago, to replace Ward Griffiths. He is assistant director general at the CIPD and part of the reason he has been brought in is to make the CIPD more vocal. He believes the organisation has enormous potential to instigate workplace change.
Solid HR practices are the key to reducing the productivity gap with other Western economies, says Brown, and it is the CIPD's challenge to get members and business to recognise this.
Brown says: "HR services and practices have a significant impact on business performance. We still have more work to do to convince senior managers of this.
"While the message is not new, there are still a lot of people who have not seen the evidence."
Brown points to the findings of David Guest and Michael West that have helped prove linkages between profits and HR practices. He believes two pieces of CIPD research, released this month, take this to the next step and show HR how to deliver these improvements in performance.
A report, Evaluating Human Capital by Professor Harry Scarbrough and Dr Juanita Elias, demonstrates how 10 organisations - including Shell and Tesco - are improving the way they manage staff through measuring how effectively they use them.
The second study is by Bath University's John Purcell, which examines HR practices that produce improvements in employee attitudes, commitment and performance in both public and private sector organisations.
"The relationship between line manager and employee emerges as a particularly important factor," says Brown. "It emphasise