Unsung HR defended despite being a mystery to most employees

Commentators have rushed to defend the HR profession after a damning poll showed that just a third of employees believed their HR team made a valuable contribution to the business.

The survey of 1,500 working-age adults by pollsters GfK NOP also found that 39% did not know the name of their organisation’s HR chief.

But Terri Cox, research manager at GfK, told Personnel Today that the results were more likely to be indicative of lack of awareness than poor HR performance.

“HR gets quite a raw deal because it tends to be seen as a barrier, creating processes staff have to go through,” she said.

“Some very good things HR does do not always come across. If HR steps in and stops a tribunal case, people might not be aware of what has happened and the value HR has added. Lots of HR activity is also confidential and can’t be publicised.”

Mike Emmott, employee relations adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said: “In large organisations, it is not surprising that people don’t know their HR director’s name.

“The person employees really need to know and value is their line manager. One of HR’s biggest contributions is equipping and motivating line managers to manage and lead their teams. If this job is being done well, whether employees on the front line know the name of the HR director is neither here nor there.”

In February, an in-depth two-year study by the Work Foundation and the Institute for Employment Studies proved there was a definitive link between effective HR and higher business profits.

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