Survey Finds Widespread Unhappiness With HR's Performance From Execs, HR Itself

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By Martin Berman-Gorvine  

March 12 --Human resources departments are falling short of their own expectations and even further short of business leaders' expectations, according to a survey released March 11 by Deloitte Consulting LLP in New York City.

But this could be viewed as an encouraging sign that the HR profession is striving to keep up with rapid change, Jason Geller, national managing director for U.S. human capital consulting at Deloitte, said in a March 12 interview with Bloomberg BNA.

The international survey, conducted in the final quarter of 2013, found “most respondents indicate that their organizations are not ready” to deal with such challenges as leadership development, cited by 86 percent as a problem, “followed by retention and engagement (79 percent), and reskilling the HR function (77 percent).” The survey reached 2,532 business and HR leaders in 94 countries, 19 percent of them from the U.S.

“More than one-third (34 percent) of business executives report that their HR and talent programs are just 'getting by' or even 'underperforming,' ” Deloitte said in a March 11 press release. “Less than 10 percent [of] HR leaders have confidence that their teams have the skills needed to meet the challenge of today's global environment and consistent delivery of innovative programs that drive business impact.”

In the full report, Deloitte added that “business leaders have less confidence in their organization's readiness to deal with future trends than HR leaders,” which could be concerning in that “HR and talent executives grade themselves a C-minus for overall performance.”

Rapid Change Driving Discontent

The business executives' dissatisfaction stems from “the changing role of the HR function,” Geller said. “As the expectations for HR continue to change in terms of the effect on the business, it creates an opportunity for change.” For example, he said, many companies are seeking to expand into emerging markets, and “there are massive HR and talent implications associated with moving into new markets. It's not typically something HR has done in the past.”

Similarly, Geller opined that HR leaders' dissatisfaction with their own departments' performance is “about the continued evolution of the role HR plays in the business. Businesses are becoming more sophisticated consumers of HR services and therefore expect more out of HR.”

The solution, he said, is “investing appropriately in HR professional development. There is a lot of time spent developing capabilities for the general employee population. That needs to be done for HR as well.” Areas where HR professionals need training especially badly include analytics, workforce planning and leadership, he added.

It's also essential for HR leaders to be “breaking down the silos within HR,” Geller said, referring to hermetic separation of skills and activities. “You don't want business expertise to live within silos because the issues don't live within silos. You need to learn to think broadly.”

Returning to his example of companies moving into emerging markets, Geller noted that such moves entail “compensation issues, benefits, payroll, leadership, succession and recruiting--all the functional areas. HR will be able to fit in much better as a partner for the business if it can knit them together into a solution for the business.”


To contact the reporter on this story: Martin Berman-Gorvine in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Nadel at

The full Deloitte report can be accessed at

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