Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Two thirds of HR Leaders feel undervalued by their CEO, reports Harvey Nash HR Survey 2016

Despite boards consistently ranking human capital as a top priority, two thirds of HR professionals believe the chief HR leader is undervalued by the CEO, and almost half believe the HR leader is considered less important to the board than the top financial leader such as the CFO. This is according to the sixth annual Harvey Nash Human Resources Survey, representing the views of 1,253 HR leaders from over thirty countries.

When assessing how HR is seen by the wider business, beyond the board, two-thirds of HR leaders are happy with the image and reputation of their function, suggesting that whilst operationally HR is performing well, its strategic value is not being fully seen by the top tier of the organisation.

The survey reveals differences in approaches between the HR leaders who feel valued and undervalued by the board, with the valued leaders being more likely to:

  • Focus on employee engagement as a strategy (64% versus 58% for undervalued HR Leaders)
  • Develop Very Strong relationships with the operations of the business (62% vs 50%) and Sales (39% vs 28%)
  • Consider Culture and Values the single most important function of HR (27% vs 22%)
  • Want HR to assume direct responsibility for HR activity, rather than empower the business to do more HR for itself (52% vs 44%)

Interestingly, despite the majority of HR leaders rating data / management information as an important tool within the HR function, HR leaders who felt valued by the board were less likely to believe this (59% vs 53%) suggesting that gaining board buy in isn’t solely about presenting KPIs and metrics.

Robert Grimsey, director, Harvey Nash Group said: “There is no doubt that boards see the people agenda as a key priority, however many CEOs are making important human capital decisions without the involvement of HR, because it is seen as an ‘engine room’ function. Things are changing though and over the five years we have conducted the Harvey Nash HR Survey the HR function has become increasingly influential.”

Elsewhere in the Harvey Nash Human Resources Survey 2016:

  • HR functions are focusing on growth. Recruitment saw the biggest jump as a priority for HR departments over the last year, with 58% of HR leaders focusing on this, compared to 51% last year. The top priorities for HR leaders in 2016 will be Talent Management (selected by 61%), Employee Engagement (60%) and Recruitment (58%).
  • Management information grows in importance. Six out of ten HR leaders (57%) believe using management information / MIS to report on HR is Very Important to their function, and a further six in ten are seeing its importance continue to grow.
  • Increased use of digital tools for recruitment. Digital tools such as Job Boards, and Social Media saw the biggest growth in usage in the last year (jumping from 42% to 49%, and 22% to 29% respectively). However Corporate Websites declined in usage from 54% to 49%.
About the Survey

The Harvey Nash HR Survey 2016 collected data between 9th July and 6th November 2015 and represents the views of 1,253 HR employees from more than 30 countries. Of the respondents, 8% identified themselves as Chief HR Officer, 15% as VP/Director of HR, 20% as Head of HRs and another 20% as Senior Manager HR, and the remaining 37% were spread between a broad range of roles including HR Business Partner and Talent Manager.