Will HR ever be relevant – or not?

I was thumbing through the appointments supplement of the Sunday Times on Sunday and two things struck me. First of all, at six pages (of which only four were actual job ads) why do they still bother with a supplement? Wouldn’t it be better for everyone if it was in the Business Section?

But the thing that really caught my attention was an article by Hannah Prevett whose sub head read – ‘HR needs to make itself as relevant as finance or marketing.

She refers to the recent KPMG survey amongst 418 top executives that found that only 17% thought that HR ‘does a good job’.

I remember one of my first CIPD conferences back in the late 80s in Harrogate. The theme of the conference back then was, you’ve guessed it, ‘making HR more relevant’.

So why, almost 25 years later, are we still asking the same question? If a finance department manages resources, reduces costs and reports on performance, doesn’t HR do exactly that same thing? And if marketing drives sales and builds brands, doesn’t HR have a massive role to play in that too?

In today’s economy, I believe engagement will be the key for most organisations. Whether they are growing or contracting, most organisations are changing and staff engagement will be critical if they are going to achieve their  goals. And this has to be a huge opportunity for HR to create value in their businesses.

The message seems to be that CEOs need to see the evidence before they ‘get it’. Well here it is.

Having worked with the HR community most of my career, I long for the day when there is an HRD on all boards. Maybe the current economic travails will provide the springboard.

Mike Burgneay
Client Development Director