July 7, 2015
For the last few years, HR professionals have been criticized for being too administrative and not adding enough value as a strategic partner. American Management Association has conducted research to uncover how much time HR professionals spend on strategic vs. administrative functions. At the SHRM 2015 International Conference and Expo, AMA polled over 300 HR professionals to learn more about their relationship with senior management. Here are some of the key findings and results.
While there are many articles out there offering advice on what HR can do to become a strategic partner, they all seem to assume that HR isn’t performing a strategic role. The first question asked of respondents aimed to unveil HR professionals’ opinions of their own role. When asked whether they agreed with the statement: “At my organization HR is viewed as a strategic partner,” over 80% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed. Only 6% disagreed, while the rest remained neutral. Clearly the majority of HR professionals feel they are already functioning at a strategic level within the organization.
Another sign of how far HR has come is their relationship with senior management. Organizations where HR has a seat at the table have senior management’s ear and get the support they need. When asked if they felt senior management was aware of the demands HR faces, 63% of respondents said they agreed.
Along the same lines, respondents were positive towards the level of support they receive from senior management at their organizations. Over 73% of HR professionals said that they agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “senior management is highly supportive of the HR function in my organization.” Only 9% disagreed or strongly disagreed with this statement, again indicating a strong relationship between senior management and the HR function.
The most important aspect of support comes down to the resources and authority given to HR team members to help implement their initiatives. Consistent with the findings above, over 78% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: “in my organization HR has the resources and authority it needs to help employees.” Most HR professionals feel confident that they can make decisions and take action with full support from senior management. These decisions have a profound impact on organizational well being, and it appears that HR executives have the ability to deliver on their strategy.
HR’s primary strategic function is making sure an organization has the talent and bench strength to meet not only the strategy, but future challenges as well. The findings from the survey show that HR professionals are spending a significant portion of their time on leadership development and talent acquisition. Over 29% said they spend their time focusing on recruiting new employees and over 21% said they spend most of their time developing their employees. These functions are decidedly strategic for the growth of talent in their organization. Almost 18% said they spent most of their time with conflict management, which is often a crucial part of change management initiatives and shifting strategy. Finally, the remaining 20% said they spend most of their time on administrative functions like payroll and compensation, or other functions not listed. All things considered, it seems that HR professionals are spending more time on strategic initiatives, and this trend may continue in times to come.