HR's blind spots include a misaligned identity and faulty communication
- HR has blind spots when it comes to some emerging workplace issues, according to a new report released by HR.com and Ipsos. The 2018 League Blindspot Report, a U.S. survey of almost 600 HR professionals and nearly 300 employees, uncovered issues that the report said HR must note to move organizations forward. The report found that although 43% of HR respondents said they see their role as strategic, only 18% of employees said they view HR that way.
- HR leaders who consider themselves "strategists" tend to be more effective in their roles, while those who view themselves as "regulators" say they're less satisfied with their jobs, the report revealed. It also concluded that HR sometimes takes for granted relationships with senior leaders and forgets to invest the time needed to gain and keep their support. Although HR professionals identify as strong supporters of work-life balance, HR might need to communicate that message more clearly and address barriers for employees.
- The survey also examined employees' expectations and wishes regarding benefits packages. As for employees' preferred benefits, paid family leave took the top spot. A fifth of employees said they're interested in having medical marijuana included in their benefits package, beating out fertility treatments and pet insurance.
The percentage of HR professionals that see themselves as strategists may be on the rise, if recent trends continue. HR leaders have, in recent years, reached for a "seat at the table" alongside C-suite members to demonstrate the value they bring to businesses. HR can lead organizations by creating and nurturing a workplace culture that backs digital transformation, by initiating culture overhauls and by preparing workers and employers for the future of work.
As the study highlighted, an HR department will want to forge good relationships with company leaders to position itself as a strategic force. A 2017 HR Certification Institute study showed that less than one in three organizations adopted HR's strategic initiatives. When they did adopt them, however, they saw successful results.
HR can better engage workers, design successful recruitment strategies, improve retention rates and maintain high levels of productivity when they're in tune with workers and their needs. Mental health and work-life balance, for example, are issues that require a solid connection between HR and workers. Many employers are channeling resources into wellness programs to help employees cope with stress, health concerns and even financial woes. But employers need to stay connected with employees on this issue. A 2018 Willis Towers Watson study found that, although half of employers said they believed their wellness programs were effective, only 32% of employees agreed. As the report notes, clear and direct communication will be paramount as HR works to become a more strategic business function.