HR's strategic role expands while admin role shrinks
- More HR professionals in small to midsize businesses call themselves strategic partners with their organizations (24%) than compliance-focused (17%) or administrative (12%), based on the results of a new Paychex poll. The study found that 80% of respondents feel they have a say in, and are contributing to, their organization's total strategy. The outcome was true even for the role with which respondents least identified, data cruncher (11%). Administrative was the only role that didn't mention a strategic contribution.
- The survey respondents credit technology with helping them meet their strategic goals. The majority said it allows them to contribute to their organizations' success, increase their efficiency, gain a competitive edge and improve employees' overall experience. Survey results point to analytics as a major driver of HR's strategic role, with 95% of respondents saying they're using it in 2018, a 5% increase over 2017. Most of those polled (90%) use analytics to track time off, benefits and training; and 85% report using analytics to defend their decisions to senior management.
- Employee efficiency and productivity took over training and development as the survey respondents' top priority this year (90% vs. 88%). Their third highest priority was a focus on company culture to drive results (85%), followed by discrimination and harassment training (83%) and using data to hire the best talent (71%).
Technology is helping HR professionals transition from largely data entry and maintenance overseers to human capital management (HCM) strategists for their organizations, just as finance, marketing and other business functions have been. However, just a year ago, a study by the HR Certification Institute (HRCI) found that business leaders, including HR, wanted more HR strategic initiatives, but company-wide support for these ideas was lacking, despite their proven success.
Paychex's study shows that HR executives may be making progress as a strategic partner, aided by technology. Keeping HR technology up to date and relevant will be necessary for attracting and retaining talent and adapting to the way work gets done and changes in labor conditions.
Compliance, too, will remain challenging for HR professionals. As the federal government under the Trump administration reversed many Obama-era rules, several states and municipalities began passing their own laws, ranging from the minimum wage and pay equity to "ban the box" ordinances. Also, some potential rule changes, like overtime, have been temporarily put on hold. Regulatory uncertainty and disparate rules will continue to be top concerns for HR.