A new survey of HR heads at 102 organisations across the UK has found that 83% believe HR departments can have more effect on the commercial performance of their employers but that 81% felt they were being held back by a focus on day-to-day service delivery. Yet almost two-thirds remain hesitant about outsourcing in this area because it is regarded as being ‘too important’.
The poll found that HR directors believe they could achieve more for their businesses in five main areas – leadership development (94% of respondents), retention (93%), attraction(91%), productivity (90%) and growth (86%). Yet well over half felt that they had been unable to address these areas because of insufficient backing from their CEOs or boards. As one HR director from a major UK retailer put it, “There is still a disconnect between the board’s vision for our people and actual investment. As things tighten in the market we are once again in the unenviable position of having to rationalise in HR, which will stop us realising core people goals for the business even in the short term.”
“We found most heads of HR admitting that their departments were currently spending the bulk of their time on recruitment and basic HR services,” say Damien Stork of recruitment process outsourcing firm, Ochre House, which commissioned the research. “However it was clear that they actually wanted to reduce this commitment and redeploy resources to workforce planning and leadership development.”
The three major barriers to redeploying resources into these more strategic areas were defined as inadequate systems and processes, insufficient resources and current levels of skills in the department. Perhaps as a direct result of this, a significant proportion of respondents either already had outsourced or were considering outsourcing in specific areas such as recruitment (51%) and training and development (42%).
“Despite a definite inclination to outsource the more ‘transactional’ aspects of HR, as many as 64% of respondents remained hesitant because they believed they were ‘too important’ to the business,” says Ochre House’s Damien Stork. “However less than 20% were deterred by a perception that outsourcing was more expensive than using internal resources. Given this, the tightening budgets that go hand in hand with an economic downturn may well lead to many more organisations making the outsourcing leap over the next twelve months."
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