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Are HR departments too poor to be more ‘strategic’?

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A majority (80%) of HR leaders might think their departments already act as strategic business partners to the firm, but how many of them actually support the company’s long-term business goals and outcomes?

Not a lot, at least according to a BambooHR survey of more than 1000 current business leaders (HR and non-HR).

The report found that currently, only 27% of HR professionals work with the corporate board on business strategy

This is despite the fact that the majority of respondents felt it is important to implement strategic HR practices.

However, the report added more than 72% of HR professionals revise and adapt their HR strategy reactively instead of proactively, indicating “a significant lack of strategic HR”.

So, what, exactly, is keeping HR professionals from proactively creating strategies to support long-term business goals and outcomes (besides not working with the corporate board)?

Among other things, a lack of resources (e.g. budget and tools) is apparently a serious obstacle (51%), followed by inadequate software (47%).

“Without the necessary resources, HR will be stuck between wanting to master strategic HR and actually mastering strategic HR,” the report stated.

ALSO READ: 6 steps to becoming a more strategic HR leader

More than three out of 10 (32%) of those polled also stated lack of executive and employee buy-in is a key obstacle preventing HR departments from being more strategic.

This was unsurprising, considering only 18% of HR professionals say that the executives in their organisations provide HR with the complete support they need to be effectively strategic.

Similarly, only 13% of non-HR management agrees that HR is given all the support they need.

“Frequently, business leaders don’t think of HR as a strategic partner because they don’t yet act like one; and they don’t act like one because the company leaders don’t give them the resources to be able to; it’s essentially a self-fulfilling prophecy,” the report added.

Jassy Tan, divisional director of human resources for FJ Benjamin (Singapore) told Human Resources however, that while not all HR departments today are truly strategic, they are “getting better”.

“There are a few factors keeping HR professionals from doing that, and some could be the lack of capability, or the readiness of the organization to accept and see HR playing that role of strategic partners,” she said.

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