The Top 3 Reasons for the Rise in HR’s Effectiveness Over the Past Year – Insights from The Talent Company’s 2013 HR Pulse Study

Earlier this year The Talent Company conducted an “HR Pulse” study along with our research partner InnovationCuration on the latest mood and trends within HR from both the HR and Business Leader’s perspective.  We had a great response to our study and were excited to present our findings during an event with the Conference Board of Canada in May.  We have also been invited to present our findings and insights to a number of organizations’ internal HR team meetings and facilitate internal discussions on how these results relate to their own experiences.

To view the highlights from our HR Pulse study presented in an infographic please click here:

Over the next few weeks I will be writing a number of articles relating to the insights into the current HR landscape gained from the study.  There were definitely a few surprises for us in the results which we are excited to share with our networks.

Overall the mood within HR is very positive and more so than it has been over the past 3 years.  There is a strong feeling not only within the HR community but also among Business Leaders that HR is more effective now than it was in the year before.  In fact 61% of the HR respondents and 66% of the Business Leader respondents in the study said they feel their HR function is better now than it was the year before.

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So the million dollar questions is why the improvement in HR effectiveness over the past year?  From our analysis there were 3 main reasons for the improvement from both the HR and Business Leader perspective:

1.  HR’s Alignment to the Business Priorities

There is a strong sense that HR has finally developed anHR strategy that is directly aligned to the business objectives.   The business is finally seeing a tighter alignment between the programs HR are rolling out and the needs of the business.  Continuing within this theme there was an appreciation from the respondents that HR has successfully focused on the transformation of their function focused on HR process improvements and efficiencies.  HR is focusing more on the core activities and actions needed for their organizations to be more productive and successful.

There were many comments from respondents on the reorganization of their HR function including the consolidation and outsourcing of more of the HR transactional activities and more focus on HR technologies that enable HR to be more efficient.  In fact, 75% of the respondents indicated that the most outsourced components of their HR function were Payroll, Benefits and Pension.  Overall there was a strong feeling that HR had increased its focus on the actions and results that matter most to the business specifically when it comes to Talent.

2.  New, Stronger, Specialized HR Talent

There was a strong theme in the responses of the participants in our study indicating that their organizations have hired and invested in new, stronger HR talent over the past few years to enable their HR functions to become more effective.  Their organizations have benefited by hiring HR talent with deep specialized expertise in specific segments of the function including talent management, recruitment, leadership development, and change management.  No longer are organizations looking to build their HR functions around HR generalist talent but are instead targeting to recruit HR talent with a specialized HR skillset and a proven track record from organizations with strong HR reputations.  The primary reason for the change in HR skillset preference is the increasing pressure from the business that HR must be more effective at supporting their organization’s growth agenda.

3.  Business Buy-in to HR

There was a strong sense from both the HR professionals and the Business Leaders participating in our study that their organization has gained more confidence in their HR function’s ability to be a true business partner and positively influencing and impacting their organization’s bottom line.  This is definitely a change in the mindset for many organizations.  Our study participants provided specific examples of the positive shift in their business’s “buy-in” of HR.  They cited the improvement of HR’s alignment to their business objectives (Reason #1) as well as the new, stronger HR Talent hired into their organizations over the past few years (Reason #2).   There was a dominant theme from our study respondents that the new HR Talent have joined their organizations and invested more time and effort in understanding the business they support.  This improved understanding of the business has positively influenced the business leader’s confidence in HR’s ability to support their growth agenda.

There were also many examples of how the business is partnering and collaborating more with HR in organizational decision making.  There was a stronger degree of accountability for the Talent agenda within their organization from the business leaders – definitely a better understanding that Talent is not just an accountability of HR.

More to come from our 2013 HR Pulse Study over the next few weeks.  As always, don’t hesitate to connect with me on any questions on the study and the findings –


Simon Parkin is the Practice Leader for Human Resources and Talent Solutions at The Talent Company – .  The Talent Company is a management consulting firm that specializes in human resources solutions.  Our organization is comprised of leading human resources, compensation, talent, recruitment, and leadership experts with proven track records of client and organizational success.

Simon is recognized as a global thought leader in the acquisition and management of talent and has successfully transformed the HR and Talent functions for organizations of all sizes. Simon works closely with clients to build, develop and innovate their Recruitment, Talent and HR functions. He is a former global leader of HR, Recruitment and Talent for a Fortune 100 company.  Simon is a featured speaker at a number of HR and Recruitment conferences across North America and an author of many acclaimed articles on innovative Recruitment, Talent and HR trends and best practices.

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