HR vs. employee. Workforce management disconnect a global snapshot
One would hope that alignment among employees and HR would be closer rather than more distant. Yet, all too often our studies show this simply isn’t the case. Despite decades of technological innovation, corporations and their HR departments remain significantly disconnected from their organisation’s single largest asset: their workforce.
So, how concerned should stakeholders be? Are corporations reading the pulse of employee engagement with sufficient accuracy? How well is the organisation’s single biggest asset being directed? Several recent ADP Research Institute studies compared the perspectives of employees with that of HR on identical key issues. And the gap in perception is statistically enough to warrant concern.
The studies surveyed global employees, HR leaders and other senior execs and found a wide disparity in their perceptions on key Human Capital Management (HCM) metrics. This was true regardless of the company’s size, industry and location. Not only were there disconnects between employees and their HR departments, the research showed that HR and senior leadership are also disconnected on some fundamental issues.
How pervasive is the disconnect?
The ADP Research Institute studies show that workers across the globe have a far more negative perception of how well companies are managing them than their C-suite executives and HR leader believe. In particular:
- Employees rank the level of their compensation and benefits less favourably than HR or management.
- Employees rate their work/life balance significantly lower than the perceptions of HR and senior management.
- Career opportunities – a key driver for retaining employees – receive significantly lower ratings from employees than from HR.
- Senior leadership is rated less positively by employees than HR.
The gap between HR and employees’ perceptions of how well their organisation is managed tends to widen as an organisation gets larger. In some regions, the difference is as much as 38%. Clearly HR’s perception is significantly disconnected with employees’ reality.
Bridging the gap between perception and reality
HR is the corporate function with the greatest potential to drive business performance. A strong connection between HR and the workforce can be an obvious indicator that a company’s largest asset is aligned with its business strategy. It can also demonstrate the effectiveness of talent management efforts. Maintaining that connection can also help give HR the means to anticipate challenges and seize opportunities.
Things go awry when HR thinks it is performing well and the workforce differs with that perception. An important link in the chain of success is broken. This could indicate that HR may not have a handle on the asset it is hired to manage, and that companies are operating without fully engaged workforces.
There are very few industries where misjudging the human capital component — typically an organization’s single most expensive asset —would not impact results. The huge differences between HR and employee perceptions on key HCM issues means there is work to be done. Bridging the gap between perception and reality is a necessary first step.
ADP Research Institute, Employee Perspectives on HCM Study, 2013.ADP Research Institute, Quantifying Great HCM, 2013.