Size matters when it comes to human resources professional-to-staff ratios

The average ratio of HR staff to employees is 1:108, research from Personnel Today’s sister publication Employment Review has revealed.

A survey of 151 organisations employing a total of 263,024 workers – with a median (the midpoint in the range) of 467 employees – also found the average HR-to-staff ratio varied widely depending on the size of the organisation.

The survey also identified growth in the number of HR staff over the past two years, rather than a decline, to meet growing workloads and to reflect a change in employee numbers elsewhere in the organisation.

Four out of 10 respondents (39%) say their HR department has taken on more staff, a further 40.4% have seen no change, and just two in 10 (21%) say there are now fewer HR staff in their organisations than there were two years ago.

HR departments in the smallest organisations (those with less than 250 employees) have been the most stable, with more than half having seen no change in HR numbers over the past two years.

Unsurprisingly, the research shows that the larger the organisation, the greater the number of staff each HR practitioner must deal with. It also shows how the headline ratios have stayed broadly constant over the past six years, changing only at the upper end of the scale.

Meanwhile, the differences between sectors are rather less pronounced, but private sector services companies tend to have a larger ratio of employees to HR practitioners.

The case for including HR at the highest levels of decision making has also largely been won.

Two-thirds of organisations now have a director to head their HR department. Most often, this means a director with a seat on the main board, with responsibility solely for personnel issues.

The person in charge of HR most commonly reports to a chief executive or managing director.

Senior HR practitioners were expected to hold the relevant formal qualifications in most organisations.

Even at more junior levels, most organisations prefer practitioners to be appropriately qualified.

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