HR Execs Can Play a Larger Role in Driving Growth

by Granville Triumph

Although the overall job market remains soft, organizations are finding it difficult to locate qualified candidates in certain job sectors. IT is a prime example — according to a survey released by Robert Half Technology in March, 70 percent of CIOs say it is somewhat or very challenging to find skilled IT professionals.

But I think many organizations also face internal challenges related to human resources, and a recent study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) bears that out. More than half of CEOs responding to the survey reported that insufficient talent might harm the company financially within the next 12 months. Yet more than a third of CEOs doubt that HR has the business knowledge to participate productively in overcoming this challenge, with 37 percent reporting that the head of HR doesn’t “understand the business well enough.” The results indicate that human capital is increasingly important and senior HR leaders need to place themselves at the heart of the debate as to the company’s strategic direction.

The study, co-sponsored by Oracle and IBM, was divided into two parts. The first surveyed 135 CEOs to learn how they view the contributions of HR leaders across organizational strategy, planning and executive team management. The report found that while HR enjoys a close, trustful and highly valued relationship with CEOs, it is not as involved in strategic planning as it could be. Only 55 percent of the CEOs surveyed consider the head of HR a key player in strategy, while 70 percent of CEOs want HR’s involvement at the highest levels of planning.

In a second report, 100 CFOs shared their feedback on the fractious relationship between finance and HR and suggestions for improving relations to capitalize on employee potential to drive growth. Leaders in HR and finance often have contrasting personality types and focus on the competing priorities of investing in talent and managing the bottom line. Nonetheless, 75 percent of CFOs want their HR lead to be a key player in strategic planning, yet only 30 percent consider their HR counterparts as such.

The EIU shared suggestions as to how HR executives might increase their influence in the C-Suite, such as fostering personal relationships with the CEO, cultivating the chemistry of the senior management team and exhibiting an understanding of the wider commercial

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