HR Suffering From Growing Pains

ST. PETERSBURG, FL (August 21 , 2007) – Today’s emphasis on business expansion is creating “growing pains” for many HR professionals, according to a recent study conducted by the Human Resource Planning Society (HRPS) in partnership with the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp). The study found that two-thirds of respondents say HR is not reacting fast enough to the strategic challenges related to organizational growth, and about the same percentage say the emphasis on growth in their organizations is changing the meaning of “strategic HR.”

“It can be hard for HR to keep up in high-growth companies,” said Jay Jamrog, i4cp’s Senior Vice President of Research. “Those firms are not only scrambling for the talent they need to keep growing, they tend to have a strong focus on issues such as meeting customer needs, delivering quality products and staying innovative. A lot of HR pros don’t have much expertise in these areas. It requires a different kind of strategic HR to help drive growth.”

Indeed, the study found that senior HR leaders are struggling to play a key role in their organizations’ growth strategies. Thirty-three percent of respondents said those leaders were “on the sideline,” contributing instead in spot roles such as talent acquisition and integration. Another 10% said HR leaders weren’t involved at all in growth strategy, and 22% said HR’s overall role is “below the executive-team level.”

Not all HR functions feel stymied in this area, however. About a fifth of respondents said senior HR leaders are indeed critical members of the executive team, and 16% said HR plays a key role in promoting organizational growth in their companies.

“Even though they are in the minority, these are the HR professionals who are probably the true business partners,” stated Jamrog. “They understand the executive point of view and know what it takes to help their companies grow. But even if they’re not represented on the executive team, HR can provide a crucial supporting role to leaders who are focused on growth.”

When asked what HR needs to do to “retool” and become more effective in growth situations, 68% of respondents pointed to the development of programs to help leaders get better at growing their organizations. Another commonly cited strategy was “designing and staffing the growth-related organization,” and a third strategy was helping organizational leaders to “frame” the growth challenge.

“The survey data strongly suggests that, in addition to talent acquisition and leadership development targeted to growth, HR leaders must dramatically increase their external focus – on markets, customers and new ways to serve them – if they are going to be strategic players going forward,” said Ed Gubman, HRPS Special Issue Editor.

The HR’s Role in Organizational Growth Survey was conducted by HRPS, in conjunction with i4cp, in June/July of 2007.

For more information about this study, please contact Greg Pernula at greg. or via phone at (727) 345-2226.

About i4cp, inc.

Building on the 35-year history of its predecessor (the Human Resource Institute), the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp, inc.) improves corporate productivity through a combination of research, community, tools and technology focused on the management of human capital. With many of the best-known companies in the world as members, i4cp draws upon one of the industry’s largest and most experienced research teams and executives-in-residence to produce more than 10,000 pages annually of rapid, reliable and respected research and analysis surrounding all facets of the management of people in organizations. Additionally, i4cp identifies and analyzes the upcoming major issues and future trends that are expected to influence workforce productivity and provides member clients with tools and technology to execute leading-edge strategies and “next practices” on these issues and trends. i4cp is a for-profit company with its headquarters in Seattle, WA, and research offices in St. Petersburg, FL.