CEOs: We Need HR to Be Strategic

A new report from the Economist Intelligence Unit confirms that most chief executive officers value HR’s counsel: 70 percent of the 135 CEOs surveyed said they want HR to be involved at the highest levels of planning. However, just over half of those CEOs (55 percent) actually consider the head of HR to be a key player in strategic planning. Many of the CEOs are also concerned about their HR chiefs’ lack of business acumen, with 37 percent reporting the head of HR doesn’t “understand the business well enough.”

The EIU report is based on two surveys, one of the CEOs and the other of 100 chief financial officers, along with a series of in-depth interviews with executives and outside experts from around the world. The report was sponsored by IBM and Oracle.

The CEO survey focused on how they view the contributions of HR leaders across organizational strategy, planning and executive team management. More than half of the CEOs (55 percent) said insufficient talent within the organization is a key challenge that might harm the company financially within the next 12 months.

The CFO survey revealed that although their desire for HR to be a strategic player in key planning is even stronger than among CEOs (75 percent, compared to 70 percent), far fewer of them consider their HR counterparts as such (30 percent) than do the CEOs (55 percent).

The report notes that HR leaders can strengthen their bond with the C-suite by fostering personal relationships with them, “cultivating the chemistry of the senior management team” and finding opportunities to demonstrate their understanding of the business. With respect to CFOs in particular, the report suggests HR share goals and results “in a qualitiative way through HR metrics” and help CFOs improve their internal finance team.

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