How does HR spend its time? Latest Survey Results
Research from Ed Lawler and John Boudreau
The results from the sixth CEO study about HR are in. This latest survey, conducted in 2010 by Ed Lawler (CEO Director and Distinguished Professor of Business) and John Boudreau (CEO Research Director and Professor), queried HR executives from the U.S., Australia, Canada, Europe, the U.K., and China about a host of issues having to do with the current state of the HR profession and function. Since 1995, CEO has surveyed a sample of HR executives from large corporations every three years. The current survey is the first to include responses from the international arena.
Here we will we discuss the findings having to do with how HR actually spends it time. Lawler and Boudreau believe that where HR spends it time sheds light on how HR is perceived, how its focus is changing, and what its future might hold.
Many are pondering the vision of a future HR. We've seen articles and books about HR's continuing desire to be seen as a strategic partner in the organization. Certainly everyone in business is becoming more and more aware that human capital is a critical component to the success of any organization. Is HR building upon that fact? There are additional trends and developments in the greater business and societal spheres that can help to propel HR to a more fully strategic role. These include globalization, collective leadership, talent segmentation, and advances in technology that make gathering HR metrics and analytics easier. Can/will HR make use of these in its desire to evolve and become a strategic partner?
The authors argue that if HR is changing, survey results would show a shift in what HR does day to day. In fact, over the 15-year-period that this survey has been conducted, there has been very little change in how HR leaders describe how their function spends its time. Lawler and Boudreau report that HR fairly consistently spends its time as follows:
- 25% strategic business partnership activities
- 50% providing/developing HR services/programs
- 25% recordkeeping and auditing
These figures have remained consistent over time. However, HR executives tend to believe that their HR function has changed both its focus and where it spends time - moving away from administration and towards strategy. The survey findings suggest that this may be an inaccurate perception.
The CEO survey clearly shows that when HR spends more time on recordkeeping, compliance and administration, there is a negative association with HR's strategic role, HR functional effectiveness, and organizational effectiveness. And if HR spends more time on strategic partnership, the higher the outcomes for those elements. Where time is spent does matter!
Read more about this topic in the forthcoming book, Effective Human Resource Management: A Global Analysis, by Edward E. Lawler III and John W. Boudreau (Stanford University Press), available in May, 2012.
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