How do your colleagues view HR?

How do your colleagues view HR?

I read an article this morning on Human Resources Online which revealed some rather startling facts about how employees view HR. What struck me was the title of the article: “Staff say HR departments not very useful.” For those who hold the HR function to highest level of professionalism, you might take a defensive stance and comment on the importance of HR in areas of payroll, benefits (leave entitlement, medical leave etc.), career progression and talent development. The list of what HR can and is doing goes on and on.

Taking this in a positive light, it does give HR professionals constructive feedback to start 2016 right by asking the key question: How do your colleagues view the HR function in your organization? It may be worthwhile doing a short survey to get their perspectives on how important they view HR as a strategic partner to the business and make adjustments with the results. According to the article, these are some of the findings:

  1. 27% of the employees felt that HR was not useful in shaping organization culture.
  2. 25% of the employees felt that HR was not useful in ensuring right mix of talents.
  3. 25% of the employees felt that HR was not useful in developing and training people.
  4. 27% of the employees felt that HR was not useful in rewarding people.
  5. 26% of the employees felt that HR was not useful in managing performance.
  6. 21% of the employees felt that HR was not useful in managing individuals’ well-being at work.
  7. 17% of the employees felt that HR was not useful in administering working conditions.
  8. 18% of the employees felt that HR was not useful in establishing adequate organizational policies.

When asked what employees thought HR does as a function, 58% of those surveyed thought HR was responsible for grievances & recruitment. Only 22% thought HR was involved in career progression and 5% had absolutely no idea what HR does as a department.

With all these statistics in mind, here are three things you can do in your organization:

  • Design and implement a HR survey to get a realistic climate check on how your colleagues view the HR function. You can choose to use the eight areas as described in the article or create your own. Depending on the openness of your organization culture, the mode of implementation will determine the integrity of the survey. A communication plans should be mapped out as well so that colleagues can understand the intention of this survey and what is likely to happen next rather than a reporting exercise for top management.
  • With the results tabulated, you can choose to clarify through one or one interviews or focus groups with equal representation of different management levels and functions. With more accurate information, work with the HR leadership team to analyze the findings and determine if intervention is required and if so, what methods can be used? If HR is not viewed as a useful function in the organization, could it be a process issue, a people competence issue or a misalignment between business strategy and HR objectives?
  • Once the analysis is completed and the HR leadership team has traced the root cause, a project team can be formed to design, develop and implement the right HR initiatives using the survey as your measurements. If a lack of communications was the root cause, the project team can create initiatives to improve HR branding within the organization and provide avenues for employees to interact more with HR. A post initiative survey based on the initial HR survey can help to measure the improvements made.

Most business leaders will agree that HR plays an important role in their organizational strategy and it is HR’s responsibility to communicate that importance to every employee so that they view HR as a strategic business partner rather than an administrative role for employees. 

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