To HR’s Future!

toastIs HR finally settling into the—all together now—“seat at the table” that human resource leaders have sought for so long?

A recent survey from XpertHR suggests the profession just may be earning the respect and sway that hasn’t always been easy to come by, and finds HR practitioners envisioning a bright future ahead.

XpertHR’s HR Staffing, Costs and Structure Benchmarks 2013 Report found nearly 60 percent of respondents saying HR’s influence in the workplace and with the C-suite has increased over the past two years. Respondents noted changes in HR leadership, greater recognition from the top, improvements in how HR works, and recognition that HR has successfully met challenges among the top reasons for HR’s more prominent role as a strategic partner.

(The survey, incidentally, polled 156 private and public companies employing more than 219,000 people, including 1,978 HR staff. Among the participating firms, 36 reported having 1,000 or more employees. Make of that number what you will.)

Nearly half (46 percent) of the HR professionals surveyed said they expect their companies’ HR operating budgets to increase over the next two years, with 40 percent saying the same about their activities budgets. Just 11 percent of HR professionals said they anticipate operating budgets to decrease.

“We found that HR professionals overall are optimistic about the future, especially when it comes to increased budgets and spending,” said Peggy Carter-Ward, head of content at XpertHR, in a statement. “HR’s influence in the workplace is also increasing, which is an indicator that HR practitioners will be playing an even more crucial leadership role in their organizations’ success.”

Measuring HR effectiveness seems to be a priority for many organizations as well, with more than 60 percent reporting their companies attempt to do so. Among these organizations, 22 percent use formal measures and 40 percent use informal measures to assess the effectiveness of their HR functions.

The news wasn’t all good, though.                                   

For example, the survey found just 35 percent of responding organizations have a documented HR strategy. Among them, 58 percent indicated that strategy was developed as an integral part of the organizational strategy. The remainder said their HR strategy was developed as a follow-up exercise after the overall organizational strategy had been created.

So, in some ways HR leaders still have progress to make before they’re truly viewed as strategic partners on par with some of their C-suite cohorts. But HR professionals poring through these survey findings can still find a lot to feel hopeful about.