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Board members not in touch with HR

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The CIPD’s latest research, Voices from the Boadroom, suggests that companies’ boards aren’t aware that better people management delivers bottom line improvements and can even have more impact than R&D. The research was compiled from interviews with 48 board level managers in 16 public and private sector organisations, including cheif executives and HR directors.

The respondents were unclear on the practical aspects of people management, and tended to concentrate on selection and performance management rather than on training and sharing information. Other viewws canvassed were alarmingly diverse, with some believing that the people management professional’s role was to support line management, while others saw human resources as controlling employees by acting as “corporate police.”

In spite of generally positive attitudes to HR, most board members were ignorant of research showing the concrete benefits it delivers.

CIPD Director General, Geoff Armstrong said: “This work shows that senior managers are still unaware of the compelling evidence that links people management with the bottom line. This lack of awareness and understanding means that boards are not getting the maximum benefit from linking their business and their people strategies. People management professionals are ideally placed to guide board colleagues and line managers on this critical area of business.”

Other findings from the report summary
Almost all those interviewed see room for improvement in the implementation of progressive people management practices – but they are more comfortable with looking into specific practices such as selection and training, rather than looking at the human resource strategy overall. The key reasons for not doing more include uncertainty about how to do it, recognising the pay off and cultural constraints including internal attitudes. Financial constraints were cited by a few.

Human resource directors are widely perceived to provide a valuable supportive role to boardroom colleagues, but are not expected to play a strategic role. Initiatives from within the human resources function are treated warily and seen by some as being “lightweight” and potentially bureaucratic.

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