A research on HR managers’ commitment to the HR function inferred that HR managers’ HR-specific human capital is positively related to their commitment to HR
According to ‘State of Talent Managers Report’, 69% HR managers stated they only have a “slight” understanding of their company’s business. A CIPD HR Outlook Survey recorded only 16% junior HR professionals agreeing that they needed to combine commercial and HR expertise to bring value to the organisation. The percentage for senior HR professionals stood at 27%. People Matters’ own State of the CHRO study brought HR’s non-experience in business to the fore – with only 66% having served an HR role only.
HR’s lack of business experience cannot be termed as news anymore. The discussion around HR’s strategic role and getting a seat at the table has been around for a while now. But in this quest to sit at the business table, is HR losing its capability to stake a claim at the HR table itself?
An academic research on HR managers’ commitment to the HR function brought the significance of the understanding of HR-specific human capital to notice. The research drew two significant conclusions:
- HR managers’ HR-specific human capital is positively related to their commitment to HR
- The CHRO’s HR-specific human capital is positively related to HR managers’ commitment to HR
HR-specific human capital is the ability to show competence, credibility and garner recognition in dealing with important HR related issues ranging from routine HR activities to more strategic issues related to mergers and acquisitions.
The variables of human capital, according to the research, include education, experience, expertise, information, ideas, and skills.
Simply put, the research inferred that the more knowledge about the HR function, the more experience handling HR, the more ideas and information about HR, and the more expertise in HR the HR manager has, the more will his/her commitment be in the HR function. And a CHRO’s HR-specific human capital also resonates in the HR team, and motivates the HR managers to stay committed to HR.
In the context of the hypothetical musical chairs game happening at the ‘table’, here is what this inference can means for both HR and business professionals.
It is important to have a sound understanding of the HR function and keep the basics sharp if one is to commit to the function. HR professionals need to sharpen their expertise of the HR function because it is their key differentiator. This doesn’t imply that a business understanding isn’t necessary – without the business understanding, the people function’s delivery would not be in aligned to the business needs and could not make the intended impact. However, real contribution to business and commitment to the organization can happen if the HR-specific human capital is strong.
CHROs who come from a business background bring something different to the table. A rich experience in business always gives a different tangent to the human resources function with a greater emphasis on a return on investment and a hard look on business metrics for every step that is taken. But equally important is for them to have HR-specific human capital to ensure their team stays committed to the HR function. For the same, it is important they equip themselves with the skills necessary by engaging themselves in training and acquire significant hands-on experience in different HR-responsibilities.
A seat at the business table for HR surely augurs well for the organisation; but at the same time, the ones sitting exclusively at the HR table and those sitting on both the HR and business table need to be extremely well-equipped with all the requisite HR-specific human capital to ensure that they remember the HR function well and perform their responsibilities even better.
For any organization to function like a well-oiled machine, it is the HR function that has to perform its role with aplomb. Like Jack and Suzy Welch said, “So how do leaders fix this mess? It all starts with the people they appoint to run HR—not kingmakers or cops but big leaguers, men and women with real stature and credibility.”