Essential Partnerships for HR

C-level Perspectives on the role of HR in strategic planning

With the growth of the modern knowledge economy, the quality of an organization’s people has never been more critical to its financial performance. Consequently, the HR function has sought to broaden the purely transactional responsibilities it conducted in the past - such as administering the payroll and employee benefits - to play a more central role. HR directors are striving to prove that they have the necessary commercial perspective and experience to make the desired transition to valued strategic partner.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), on behalf of IBM and Oracle, recently surveyed a number of C-level executives in North America and Western Europe to understand how HR can take on a bigger role in driving growth. The EIU took a look at whether the HR function is managing to forge the close and robust relationships with the two most important decision-makers in the organization - the CEO and the CFO. It also investigated the precise nature of these working relationships, how they have been affected by the recent economic downturn and how they vary across industries and regions.

The global survey of 235 C-level executives, of whom 57% are CEOs and 43% CFOs, was conducted in May, 2012. The respondents were based in North America (47%), Western Europe (40%), Eastern Europe (8%) and the Middle East (4%). In all, a total of 38 countries were represented. A wide range of industries were also represented, including financial services (15%), healthcare, pharmaceuticals & biotechnology (12%), professional services (12%), manufacturing (10%) and IT & technology (8%). Half of the companies (50%) were large, with over US$500m in annual revenues; the other half were small and mid-sized.

The resulting reports highlight the actions senior HR leaders can take to place themselves at the heart of the debate on a company’s strategic direction. Three reports were created: CEO perspectives; CFO perspectives; and C-level perspectives from Western Europe. In addition to the reports, there is a video interview with Dinesh Paliwal, Chairman, President and CEO of Harman, and a slide show highlighting the 8 best practices for the Chief Human Resources Officer.

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