The results of Personnel Today's 360-Degree Appraisal of HR survey will have ruffled lots of feathers among the thousands of industry professionals who demonstrate their worth to the rest of the business every day.
They will disagree with the conclusion from their stakeholders that HR departments are ineffective, shutting themselves away in ivory towers, succeeding only in spending too much time and money producing unnecessary red tape.
This may seem an unfair analysis, but the fact is that HR is failing in one of its most vital areas: communication. Yes, HR needs to understand business drivers and align itself with the strategic direction of the business, but most importantly, it needs to shout about it.
So how can HR ensure that the rest of the organisation can see its contribution? Alan Warner, corporate director (people and property) at Hertfordshire County Council, says the first step is for HR to be clear about why it exists.
"HR is there to support the business and to help employees. HR is not there to stop them from doing what they want to do. HR needs to keep this in mind if it is to empathise with line managers," he says.
To do this, HR needs to offer pragmatic advice to staff and stakeholders. But this can only be achieved if HR understands everyone's needs. "For example, during an office move, everyone needs to know exactly how the relocation will work. Staff do not want to hear puff about how fantastic it will be they want to know practical details, such as travelling times," advises Warner.
Effective communication has to go both ways, so HR also needs to listen to staff. One way to achieve this is by hosting employee surveys or focus groups.
Warner says: "We recently came up with a recruitment campaign for day-centre staff, which we thought was brilliant. But when we asked employees already in these roles, they said they didn't like it. So we scrapped it and came up with a new campaign - one that they felt proud to be part of."
Just like any marketing campaign, the key to success is getting a real understanding of your customers.
Alison Gill, managing director of talent management consultancy Getfeedback, says HR must speak to staff at all levels about the challenges