Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone
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The majority of senior executives believe that the HR function is ineffective and consistently fails to provide value to the organisation.
According to a survey among 418 C-suite managers conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by management consultancy KPMG, a mere 17% believe that HR does a good job, with many seeing it as a non-essential department. Robert Bolton, a partner at KPMG management consulting and global lead of the firm’s HR Centre of Excellence, said: “At the very least, HR has a perception problem, though in some cases, it may have actually failed to deliver real value.” For example, while three quarters of those questioned pointed out that their workforces were becoming increasingly global, virtual and flexible, a mere quarter believed that HR excelled at finding and retaining international talent. A worrying 24% also warned that HR teams were simply unable to support the company’s globalisation strategy, even though being able to hire international talent was a key priority for the average ‘globally-minded CEO’. Meaningful and intelligent information Moreover, despite the fact that 55% of respondents recently took on more contractors and temporary staff than permanent employees while three out of five increased their use of virtual workspaces, some 76% professed to be unhappy about their HR department’s ability to support a progressively virtual and flexible workforce. To make matters worse, the report entitled 'Rethinking HR for a Changing World' indicated that a huge 85% felt that HR professionals were unable to provide insightful workforce information that could be used for forecasting purposes. As a result, some 31% said that data analytics was the key area between now and 2015 to which they were most likely to assign investment. But Bolton warned: “Taking full advantage of data is not something that can happen overnight. HR needs to develop its abilities in a data-centric environment and then educate the business about how to analyse the available information.” But the process was a long one because, even though organisations were currently submerged in data, it was challenging to transform it into meaningful and intelligent information. As a result, “HR teams must now seize on this as an opportunity to shift from being seen as providers of operational delivery to advisors providing counsel on business direction and strategy”, Bolton said.