The Human Resources Professionals Research Project: Survey #1 Result Summary

Posted in Articles on April 15th, 2009
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A full and detailed analysis of the results has been sent to participants. Request your copy of the complete results via PDF.

Summary
Quorum Associates LLC and Action Research Institute have completed the first in a series of surveys for the Human Resources Professionals Research Project. This project examines issues facing human resource professionals in order to develop a better understanding of the challenges these professionals face in today’s environment.

The first survey looks at four key dimensions: the HR relationship with line management, talent management, talent acquisition, and professional reputation. These dimensions were chosen based on anecdotal evidence that all of these dimensions are closely interrelated. Based on the results of the first survey, these dimensions revolve around four distinct themes. Theme A pertains to the perceptions of the HR function. Theme B is about the talent management and acquisition processes. Theme C indicates limits to current talent management and talent acquisition processes. Theme D highlights the difficulty that HR Professionals have acquiring and recruiting talent. Lastly, survey participants were asked to rank four statements, related to these themes, in order of importance.

Background
It was deemed important to present a framework that might describe the effective and well-respected human resource function. Based on conversations with Human Resource Professionals and line managers, the framework consists of a few closely interrelated dimensions.

  • The human resource function should be perceived as positive, proactive and strategic by the management it serves and respected by its industry and professional peers.
  • The human resource function must be more than administrative.
  • It is important for the company and human resources to understand what is required to help employees succeed and be willing to make that investment.
  • There should be a talent management process that is comprehensive, rigorous, and valued by the entire company.
  • The framework requires a talent acquisition process that is thorough, consultative, and produces expected results.
  • Lastly, identifying and recruiting top quality talent should be straightforward and uncomplicated.

A basic assumption of this framework is that each of the major conditions and capabilities listed above are closely interdependent and mutually reinforcing. For example, it is assumed that how the human resource function is perceived is closely dependent on the quality of each of the significant capabilities and vice versa. It is also assumed that each capability is closely dependent on the others. Talent management is closely dependent on talent acquisition, which is dependent on effective recruiting.  Each of these is also closely dependent on the company and human resources’ understanding what it takes to help employees succeed. All of which is dependent on human resources being more than an administrative function.

Results
When the dimensions of the framework are examined, they form four distinct themes. These themes involve the perceptions of the HR function; talent management and acquisition processes; limits to current talent management and acquisition processes; and the difficulty that companies have acquiring and recruiting talent. In all instances, the responses indicate how HR professionals view each of the respective themes.

  • 73% of respondents indicated that most senior management that they principally work with perceives the HR function as helpful, positive, pro-active and a strategic function.
  • 60% of respondents indicated that the HR function at their company was respected in their industry and by other human resource peers.
  • 69% indicated that the responsibilities of human resources include the assessment of all employees and the development of effective training programs for employees from CEO to entry level.
  • 65% of respondents indicated that to attract, hire, motivate and retain quality employees, and make sure they are successful over the long-term, that they (management and HR) understand and accept what is required to help employees succeed in terms of competitive compensation, continued professional training and development, and that they are willing to make that investment.
  • 56% felt their talent acquisition process is thorough, consultative and always produces the expected results.
  • When looking at the responses to questions 4, 5 and 6, 79% of respondents answered the questions the same way. If they answered any single question 4, 5, or 6, positively, they answered the other questions, 4, 5, or 6, positively and vice versa. These questions are also clearly interrelated.
  • 62% felt that their company does not have an effective talent management process.
  • Only 38% of respondents felt that their talent management process is comprehensive, rigorous and valued by the entire company.
  • 44% of respondents felt that their company’s talent acquisition process was ad hoc, informal and often unsuccessful.
  • Fully 92% of all survey respondents indicated that identifying and recruiting top talent is very difficult.

Question 9 asked HR respondents to rank four dimensions based on the order of importance. When the answers were analyzed, the two questions about human resource capabilities, collectively received the majority of the top two ranking in terms of importance:

  • 65% ranked “Identifying and recruiting top quality talent as important to the future of the company and a talent acquisition process that was thorough, consultative, and always produces expected results” as one of the top two of importance.
  • 35% of respondents ranked “Our Talent Management Process is based upon the comprehensive assessment of all employees and is designed to retain, motivate and engage employees by providing a broad range of compensation, professional development, and motivational tools and programs” in the top two of importance.

As stand alone questions, the question about the perception of human resources was equal in importance to respondents to that of recruiting top quality talent.

  • 62% ranked “the human resource function is perceived by the company as a strategic function and the professional within HR are viewed as proactive, helpful, constructive and engaged” as in the top two of importance.
  • Lastly, on the importance of the external view of the Human Resource function: 73% of respondents felt that “the Human Resource function at their company is highly respected in their industry and by other HR Professional peers” was the least important.

Conclusions
There were a few broad findings in the first survey. These major findings are consistent across all respondents, the levels of management they serve and respondent subgroups by industry and geographic location.

  • The data clearly indicates that the perception of human resources and the capabilities of the HR function are independent from each other. This is not the answer that was expected and warrants additional research.
  • The data also indicates that the perceived capabilities of human resources are closely related. How respondents answered any single question 4, 5, or 6, was a strong indication of how they answered the other questions, 4, 5, or 6. The answers to these questions are clearly interrelated.
  • It was a basic assumption that positively perceived talent management and talent acquisition processes would allow easier identification and recruitment of top talent. Regardless of how respondents viewed their talent management or their talent acquisition processes, the identification and recruitment of top talent is still a challenge. The results of the survey do not explain why this is the case. But this issue is clearly important and needs to be better understood.

This first survey provided meaningful insight and guidance for further study. Each of the conditions and capabilities could be the subject of a number of surveys. Clearly, there is more to be learned around each of the themes that developed. This is a continuing project. Based on what we have learned, Quorum Associates and Action Research Institute are preparing the second survey.

We wish to thank everyone who has participated in this survey. A full and detailed analysis of the results has been sent to participants.

We wish to encourage other human resource professionals to join our study. Sign up to participate and you will receive the complete results via PDF.

Thank you,

Francis Goldwyn
Managing Director
Quorum Associates LLC
Sam Kingsley, Ph.D.
President
Action Research Institute

About The Sponsors

Action Research Institute

Action Research Institute provides high-quality strategic consulting and research to businesses in various industries.  It has pioneered research methods in business-to-business branding, customer experience management, and employee research.  Operating since 1987, the firm enjoys strong relationships with its clients, who entrust their valued assets, and future viability, to Action Research Institute.  The firm has the ability to conceptualize an opportunity & operationalize information creation that lets clients capture that opportunity.

To learn more please visit the Action Research Institute website: www.actionresearchinstitute.org

Quorum Associates LLC

Quorum Associates LLC is an international executive search consultancy providing strategic and advisory service to global clients in financial services and consumer products. Quorum Associates was founded in 1998 and has offices in New York and London. Our success is the result of focused relationships with clients founded on the principles of hard work, honest advice and constant focus. Quorum views every assignment and candidate placement as an investment in the future of both the client’s business and the candidate’s career.

To learn more please visit the Quorum website: www.quorumassociates.com
Or contact us at: 001(212) 231-8343.



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