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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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HR must become more strategic, warns study

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In order to meet the needs of the increasingly complex, globalised business of the future, HR professionals must assume a more strategic role or risk being sidelined, a study has warned.

A global survey of 226 senior managers in 42 countries – about 32% of whom worked in HR – revealed that 91% believed HR’s biggest single challenge over the next decade would be to ‘bridge the gap from [being] a transactional function to a strategic business partner’.
 
The study, which was undertaken by Fast Future Research on behalf of content management system provider Hyland Software, also revealed that a huge 46% of respondents considered a ‘lack of business and strategic vision’ to be the biggest barrier to achieving this goal.
 
But Rohit Talwar, Fast Future Research’s chief executive, who also undertook in-depth interviews with a number of HR directors, said that such a strategic vision was considered to comprise three key elements.
 
Firstly, the HR function had to align itself more closely with the business and its strategy in order to understand both where the organisation and the market were going and what was likely to come next.
 
“We’re moving into a more complex, global environment where the business has to act faster and be more innovative and flexible, but this places great demands on talent. So HR needs to be looking at more long-term skills issues and workforce planning, for example,” Talwar said.
 
Secondly, it was important that HR started delivering more personalised services and systems for individuals to access no matter where they were based in the world.
 
Thirdly, HR departments had to gain a clearer view of their cost bases and become more sensitive to the cost pressures being felt elsewhere in the business. As part of this process, they would have to take action to re-engineer and streamline processes and IT systems, which included consolidating duplicate data, in order to boost efficiency.
 
“The feeling is that in many organisations, HR is trying to become more strategic, but the bulk of time is still spent on transactional activity. But records management and managing the day-to-day admin is not where they should be focusing,” Talwar said.
 
Instead HR departments should be concentrating on strategic issues such as workforce planning, people communications and engagement and how best to manage a multi-generational and increasingly international labour pool, he added.
 
Author Profile Picture
Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

Read more from Cath Everett
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