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Jamie Lawrence


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Over a quarter of HR departments are ineffective, say senior HR professionals


Twenty-six percent of senior HR professionals think their HR function is ineffective, according to research released by a management consultancy.

Over a third (37 percent) of senior HR professionals feel the purpose and values of their HR function are poorly defined.

The research, from Orion Partners, polled 67 HR leaders and senior professionals at both private and public sector organisations across the UK.

According to Orion, a lack of clear purpose is a major reason why departments are perceived as ineffective.

The research also suggests a lack of mechanisms to evaluate HR’s performance prevents departments from becoming more efficient. Over half (54 percent) of senior HR professionals polled admit there are no mechanisms in place to evaluate how effective their department is.

A further two-thirds (70 percent) say decision-making isn’t supported by robust management information.

Jane Chesters, partner at Orion, said: “If business purpose and values aren’t clearly defined, it is difficult for HR leaders to communicate their vision, and that stymies the ability of the department to implement an effective strategy.”

How is the HR department viewed in your organisation? Are HR departments suffering from systemic perceptions of inefficiency or is this limited to a small sample of organisations?

2 Responses

  1. HR challenges

    Jeremy, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head on the challenges facing HR at the moment. The Cinderella function point is pertinent because any issue can be made to be ‘about people’ and therefore dumped on HR. As organisations think more and more that HR should lead decision-making, and HR has access to data that others will increasingly want to see, the burden on HR to make strong business cases for things like engagement will increase.


  2. “Ineffective HR Departments”

    Well here is a heading that must attract many readers! – but seemingly no reponses as yet?

    As an interested outsider, without wishing to argue against a polled result however small the sample, isn’t this  survey finding at least partly due to the fact that, in many organisations:

    – the HR function is often a ‘Cinderella function’, dumped on by many other managers who might far better have been advised to have taken a more proactice interest in managing their teams more professionally themselves in the first instance?

    – the perception by many that ‘HR’ is one narrow area of expertise, rather than a vast conglomerate of widely differing professional skills and aptitudes that may have little in common with each other (ie no different from other professionas such as accountancy, the lawyers or engineering, for example), save only that they all involve ‘people’ in one way or another? 

    – the difficulties that any HR professional faces in acquiring broad ,useable expertise across all its many components, while also developing more specific professional skills in greater depth, *and* progressing their own career advance at the same time?

    Actually, I blame many elements of the vast array of continually-changing Enployment legislation – hard enough to keep on top of even in more narrow and selective parts of HR!  That, and the organisational challenge of using skilled HR professionals outside their own function to acquire greater experience. 

    Maybe *all* management trainees should have a detailed spell in HR before any promotion?  That at least might prevent some in causing many of the problems which HR staff so often have to clear up afterwards!

    – Jeremy Thorn

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Jamie Lawrence

Insights Director

Read more from Jamie Lawrence

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