Tuesday, 3 January 2017

First day back and only 4% of Senior Execs think HR is highly effective? WHAT?

Having worked in the HR software field for some time now, I was very disappointed to see the findings of a recent global survey sponsored by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and the Economist Intelligence Unit.
The study found only 4% of the senior business executives surveyed thought their HR function was 'highly effective' in addressing the needs of the business. 
60% of respondents described HR’s capabilities as “adequate but needing improvement,” and another 30% said “significant improvement” is required.
I wonder how busy those senior executives will be today, on the first day back after a Christmas break.  Their HR colleagues will be flat out, trying to simultaneously compile last year’s End of Year Staff Holiday Report whilst already juggling the first holiday requests for 2017.
What the senior execs fail to appreciate, as they glance through the HR reports, is all the hassle that the HR team endured in order to deliver a seemingly smooth performance, and all the challenges HR dealt with that went unnoticed, not in the report because potential problems were averted.
Staff holiday planning is a good example.  If there has been no leave crisis in that senior exec's team that year, it's probably because someone in HR spent time treading a delicate balance to keep everyone happy, motivated and most importantly ensured adequate leave cover.   What seems insignificant took time and effort.
These battles are no better illustrated than on the first day back to work, as staff argue, race and cajole in order to secure the best holiday dates.  HR will be the judge, peace-keeper and will have to regulate the in-house arguments over who placed their request first, who deserves the best dates and why as the excuses mount up.  
The admin burden is just as tiresome - and it seems, wholly unappreciated.  According to data from top auditors, 80% of HR Managers have to use paper forms, spreadsheets or an office wall planner, even though leave planning software has existed for years now (Activ Absence is in its 10th year).  
Note to senior colleagues: HR cannot perform miracles on a shoestring without the tools to do the job.  
Paper is messy, important data is often lost and reporting is time consuming and disjointed. Spreadsheets often result in lost data due to human error, PC crashes and confusion.
Change is overdue and most HR practitioners are calling for it, indeed Activ Absence saw a huge rise of enquiries from HR Managers in December.  Our customers range from employing 5 staff to 5000, and we are used to working with HR professionals across all types of organisations, including charities, SME's, blue chips and start ups.  
We have the utmost respect for HR professionals because we see first hand the difference their contribution makes to the workplace.  In fact, we take pride in being able to help most of them - and if we can’t help or meet their needs, we’ll tell them that honestly. 
However, the main challenge for HR is not in finding a software provider like us, but in persuading senior execs that the profession makes a massive difference to the business, and is worthy of investment in software.  
It doesn't inspire confidence when HR reads their colleagues 'don’t think HR supports the business well enough’.   
Perhaps senior execs, in their technology rich specialities, could take a walk in HR shoes for a day and see exactly what it's like to be managing as best you can without the aid of technology and it seems without the support of your colleagues.
My New Year message to the unsung heroes of HR, is we’re among the 4% who appreciate the huge difference you make, and we will strive to keep supporting you.  
Have a fantastic 2017 everyone.

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