A recent study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and co-sponsored by Oracle and IBM highlights the role of HR leaders in helping organizations drive growth, and HR's relationship with C-level executives.
The EIU surveyed 235 C-level executives from organizations around the world of varying sizes and industries, and found that while human capital is increasingly important as a strategic differentiator, there are important actions senior HR leaders need to take to place themselves at the heart of the debate on a company's strategic direction.
EIU supplanted the report with a series of in-depth interviews with senior executives from major companies and other experts around the world to deliver context and best practices on improving the relationship.
The report found there is an opportunity for senior HR leaders to expand their positive relationships with CEOs (57 percent of respondents) and develop more productive relationships with CFOs (43 percent of respondents) by playing a larger role in corporate strategy and planning.
HR Leaders Must Complete the Transition from Administrator to Strategic Partner in the Eyes of CEOs
To increase its influence in the C-Suite, the report shared suggestions for HR executives, including fostering personal relationships with the CEO, cultivating the chemistry of the senior management team and exhibiting an understanding of the wider commercial business.
The report found that while HR enjoys a close, trustful and highly valued relationship with CEOs, they are not as involved in strategic planning as they could be. A little over half of the CEOs surveyed (55 percent) consider the head of HR a key player in strategic planning, while 70 percent of CEOs want HR's involvement at the highest levels of planning.
In addition, more than half of CEOs responding (56 percent) reported that insufficient talent within the organization is a key challenge that might harm the company financially within the next 12 months. Yet more than a third of CEOs have doubts whether HR has the business knowledge to participate productively in overcoming this issue, with 37 percent reporting the head of HR doesn't "understand the business well enough."
Relationship Between HR and Finance Pivotal, Yet Shaky
With leaders in HR and finance often brandishing contrasting personality types and focused on the competing priorities of investing in talent and managing the bottom line, the study found a common tension between the critical department heads.
While the study found 75 percent of CFOs want their HR lead to be a key player in strategic planning, only 30 percent of the CFO respondents consider their HR counterparts as such, a much lower percentage than the 55 percent of CEO respondents who answered the same question.
The report provided practical suggestions for HR leaders to repair the bond, including sharing goals and results in a qualitative way though HR metrics, helping the CFO improve its internal finance team, and finding ways to showcase strategic business-level thinking in meetings.
"With businesses competing in a fierce race for global talent and focused on optimizing limited resources, senior HR leaders are increasingly being tapped to offer strategic guidance and planning," said Gretchen Alarcon, vice president, Oracle HCM Strategy. "As technology helps automate processes and eases administration, HR can focus more time on aligning talent strategies with long-term business goals. This report provides a blueprint for HR leaders to enhance their relationships with CEOs and CFOs, which will help them play a more strategic role in business direction, growth and success."
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