CHANGING HR FUNCTION
CIPD highlights rapidly changing face of HR
A recent survey from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development illustrates the extent to which HR functions are constantly adapting to the changing UK business environment.
Over the last five years, for example, more than eight in ten of the 787 respondents surveyed said that their HR functions had changed structure. Even more striking perhaps was the finding that more than half have made changes in the last year. Most HR functions had restructured to become more strategic contributors to the business.
The survey is the third phase of a two-year research project conducted by the CIPD to look more broadly at questions surrounding the “Changing HR Function”.
The first two stages looked at existing knowledge in the area followed by a series of qualitative case studies, while the survey aimed to examine how HR functions are meeting the challenges of structure, role, skills and relationships.
An additional final report is planned to be completed by the end of 2007.
The Ulrich model
Particular attention is given to the extent to which HR functions have adopted the so-called “three-legged” model first developed by US academic David Ulrich.
The model proposes segmenting the HR function into three areas:
The segmentation of HR activity, it is argued, offers a number of advantages with shared-service centres, which take care of transactional work, offering economies of scale that should result in cost savings; business partners, who handle the transformational aspects of HR, making the strategic contribution; and centres of expertise, the third leg of the model, providing specialist knowledge of resourcing, development and other increasingly complex matters.
Centres of expertise
Ulrich model still only used by a minority
Difficulties with restructuring the HR function
Perhaps why so few have adopted the model is the number of difficulties outlined by respondents with regard to restructuring their HR functions. In particular, five areas stood out including:
Other key findings from the survey
Restructuring the HR function
Benefits and challenges of HR structures
Among the main problems experienced with the Ulrich model were as follows:
Roles and responsibilities of HR
HR skills and careers
A final word
“Today’s HR departments are often judged on their success in meeting business targets, improving efficiency, performance and reducing costs. Changes in the HR function have created a huge shift in the way it delivers services and in its relationship with the rest of the organisation in order to increase business focus.” - Vanessa Robinson, CIPD Organisation and Resourcing Adviser.
The survey was based on a similar study conducted in 2003 so that direct comparisons were possible. In total, 787 HR professionals responded and the median size of department was 10. There was a range of staff numbers in the departments covered, with a third having between one and five staff and a half with between six and 50 employees. The largest department had around 3,000 HR staff.
By job level, 57% of those surveyed described themselves as heads of HR functions and a further 26% said they were board members. The majority of the remainder described themselves as HR managers (8%), HR experts (3%) or business partners (2%).
The sample was split between 43% from the public sector and 57% private with 36% from multinationals.
Want to know more?
Title: The Changing HR Function, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, September 2007.
Availability: To download the 30-page report, free of charge, in PDF format visit the Chartered Institute’s site at www.cipd.co.uk or go directly via this link www.cipd.co.uk/subjects/hrpract/hrtrends/_chnghrfncn.htm?IsSrchRes=1
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) is the professional body for those involved in the management and development of people and has over 127,000 individual members. For more details visit www.cipd.co.uk.