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Cath Everett

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HR kidding itself it is strategic business partner


While almost three quarters of HR departments consider themselves to be strategic partners to the business, a huge 85% of their day-to-day activities are actually tactical in nature.


A study undertaken by benefits consultancy and outsourced service provider Mercer among organisations in 40 countries across Europe, the Middle East and Africa revealed that there was a huge disconnect between perception and reality among the majority of HR departments, with most still having a long way to go in order to strategically reinvent themselves.

Astik Ranade, a principal at the firm and co-author of the report entitled ‘Mercer’s HR Transformation Strategy’, said: “HR appears chameleon-like, constantly aware of and adapting to their changing environment and keen to lead organisational change, yet their ultimate goal to be considered fully strategic is a branch too far.”

But there was renewed interest from employers in re-evaluating the HR function, its value to the business and how it could further influence internal strategy, which meant that progress was being made “slowly but surely”, he added.

The survey indicated that 38% of respondents believed that the HR department fully participated in the company’s strategic decision-making processes, while 28% said that it was involved in strategic decisions, but did not take part in the decision-making process itself.

Some 26% said that HR was currently not a strategic partner but was starting to increase its influence, while a further 8% admitted that HR was not perceived as a strategic partner at all.

On average, however, 27% of the HR function’s time was spent on delivering HR services, 18% on record-keeping and transacting, 14% on designing HR programmes or systems and internal management respectively and 12% on auditing. Only 15% of their total time actually went on undertaking strategic activities.


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