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Half of C-suite execs don’t know how to use HR effectively

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Half (50%) of C-suite executives admit they don’t know how to use their HR team as effectively and strategically as they would like to, according to research from HR software provider Personio.

Meanwhile, 66% of HR professionals say they want to play a more strategic role in the business.

The key barriers to this are too much administrative and process-driven work (31%) and poor collaboration with their senior leadership team (29%). 


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Pete Cooper, director of people, partners and analytics at Personio said the data shows that C-suite executives are underestimating their HR teams, as many fail to recognise HR’s role has evolved.

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “In reality, HR’s role is about helping businesses to make sure their most valuable asset, their people, are empowered to do their job, be productive and help the organisation succeed. 

“Now, armed with the tools to measure and assess engagement and culture, and freed from its process-driven functions, HR has never been in a better place to be able to step up and take the lead as a key driver of business success.”

Over two thirds (67%) of C-suite executives want to have a better understanding about what their HR team does, and three quarters (75%) said it would be beneficial for HR to demonstrate their contribution to business success.

Cooper said: “To demonstrate their capabilities to C-suites, HR professionals should make sure they’re being proactive and are actively offering recommendations. 

“HR needs to ‘show, not tell’ by creating clear KPIs, goals and metrics to link the corporate strategy, strategic HR priorities and key performance measurements for HR and for the workforce. By doing so, they can demonstrate their true value.”

Cooper recommended HR professionals collect and analyse data available to them.

He added: “HR sits on a data gold mine – from recruitment data, career progression data, personal development reviews to staff satisfaction data. 

“HR data can be used to improve decisions, make employees happier, and optimise processes – adding value to the company, so they should collect and present this to the C-suite to keep them informed.” 

HR Most Influential Hall of Fame inductee Perry Timms, founder of HR consultancy PTHR, said HR need to show the value of soft skills in order to demonstrate their value.

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “KPIs are often financial and material value only. HR proving the case that social, human and intellectual capital add to more financial success, is vital. 

“Plus many c-suite seem low on EQ or appreciation of people sciences. So we need to crank that up in terms of understanding how to find, hire, retain, develop and deploy the best talent.”

If HR becomes more strategically involved, they could work more effectively and avoid burnout, Timms added.

He said: “Constant revolving door recruitment, fire-fighting ER and poor organisation design and performance approaches are what’s burning us out. 

“Let us get at more of the strategic cause of misfires and we’ll be much better placed and balanced.” 

Personio surveyed 500 c-suite level executives and 1,000 HR decision makers at SMEs in the UK and Ireland.

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