Rift between senior executives and human resources highlighted by Deloitte/Economist Business Unit’s ‘Aligned at the Top’ survey

There is still a major gap between senior business executives and human resources professionals when it comes to HR’s place in an organisation’s pecking order, global research has revealed.

A worldwide survey conducted by business services firm Deloitte with the Economist Intelligence Unit, found 85% of senior executives identified people as “vital” to their business performance.

Yet 52% of executives said they do not have a chief human resources officer on the board to deal with people issues. Furthermore, 63% of senior business executives claimed they never consulted their HR leaders on mergers and acquisitions despite the huge “people” challenges that these activities create.

The Aligned at the Top survey revealed that half of all HR leaders in the 531 companies surveyed felt their firm considered people matters to be “very significant”, but only a quarter claimed that HR even contributed to conversations about strategy formulation.

Sabri Challah, head of the human capital consulting practice at Deloitte, said: “The reality is that HR doesn’t have a seat at the heart of many organisations to influence how they are run.

“The survey shows there is a deep gulf between senior business executives, who want their organisation’s people to drive their future success, and the HR leaders they have available to do that.”

Only 5% of senior business executives described their company’s HR function as highly effective at addressing the people needs of the business, while 60% claimed HR was moderately effective.

When asked to what extent people management was seen as a valuable contribution to the future ambitions of the business, only 19% of senior business executives said it was.

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