HR Struggling To Keep Up In High-Growth Companies

August 31 2007 - Two-thirds of respondents to a new survey by the Human Resource Planning Society (HRPS) and the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) concluded that HR is not responding quickly enough to strategic growth challenges and a similar percentage felt the emphasis on organizational growth is changing the meaning of "strategic HR."

Jay Jamrog, i4cp's senior vice president of research said:

"It can be hard for HR to keep up in high-growth companies. Those firms are not only scrambling for the talent they need to keep growing, they tend to have a strong focus on issues such as meeting customer needs, delivering quality products and staying innovative. A lot of HR pros don't have much expertise in these areas. It requires a different kind of strategic HR to help drive growth."

The study found that the majority of senior HR professionals were not playing a significant role in organizational growth strategies. About a third (33 per cent) said they were "on the sideline," concentrating on other goals such as talent acquisition and integration. A further 10 per cent said HR leaders "weren't involved at all" and 22 per cent said HR was operating "below the executive-team level."

However, about a fifth of respondents said senior HR leaders are critical members of the executive team, and 16 per cent that HR plays a key role in promoting organizational growth.

Jay Jamrog commented:

"Even though they are in the minority, these are the HR professionals who are probably the true business partners. They understand the executive point of view and know what it takes to help their companies grow. But even if they're not represented on the executive team, HR can provide a crucial supporting role to leaders who are focused on growth."

Asked what HR needs to do to become more effective in this area, 68 per cent highlighted the need for development programs to help senior professionals improve skills at growing their organizations. Other commonly cited strategies were "designing and staffing the growth-related organization," and helping leaders to "frame" the growth challenge.

Ed Gubman, HRPS special issue editor said:

"The survey data strongly suggests that, in addition to talent acquisition and leadership development targeted to growth, HR leaders must dramatically increase their external focus - on markets, customers and new ways to serve them - if they are going to be strategic players going forward."