Time for HR to reflect on its image problem

Less than one-third of line managers believe their HR department offers good value for money – compared to 80% of HR professionals.

Exclusive new research from Personnel Today, in association with recruitment consultancy Proactive HR, shows how differently HR professionals and line managers value the function.

The 360-Degree Appraisal of HR survey shows that, on almost every measure, line managers think HR is doing a worse job than HR professionals themselves believe.

Almost 60% of HR professionals think their department is extremely or very effective, compared with just 20% of line managers.

And 45% of HR professionals think their department is extremely or very well perceived within their organisation, again compared with 20% of line managers. Half of line managers think the department is not very or not at all well perceived.

The results lead to one of two uncomfortable conclusions – either HR is not as effective as its practitioners think it is, or the function needs to improve how it communicates its achievements and the value it adds to organisations.

The survey examines perspectives on HR’s priorities, which are seen as very different from inside and outside the function, and asks respondents to list their top people-related problems – also revealing major disagreements.

Other insights from the survey include:

  • Women are more appreciative of HR than men.
  • Private sector employees value HR more than public sector employees.
  • The more senior an employee, the more highly they rate the HR department.
  • The bigger the organisation, the worse its employees’ views of HR.

The survey involved 835 HR professionals and 1,958 directors and managers from other parts of business.

Personnel Today examines the survey in brief and in depth, with comments from the profession and other expert views.


Kate Constable

Head of HR change, Portman Building Society

“HR practitioners very often come up through the professional route without gaining hands-on experience. Those that can demonstrate a thorough understanding of the business will establish their credibility more easily.”

Andrew Marston

Assistant chief officer (HR), Gtr Manchester Police

“HR people often have a rosy view about the perception of HR – because they don’t bother to ask anybody else. HR can be seen as remote and risk averse.”

Ray Fletcher

HR director, Transport and General Workers’ Union

“In many ways, HR is a function that will never please all the people, all of the time, and therefore will always be subject to criticism. HR should seek to place people issues at the centre of an organisation’s processes.”

Cara Davani

Group director, corporate services, Genesis Housing Group

“Some HR functions are risk averse and this can be very frustrating for managers. But then the HR profession is not spoilt for choice in terms of talent.”

E-mail your own feedback to personneltoday@rbi.co.uk

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