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CEOs rate staff morale as a priority

Research carried out by PriceWaterhouseCoopers with 70 CEOs of UK organisations shows the highest priority is attending to staff morale with 85% expecting to 'overhaul the way their organisations manage people through change.'

The good news is that CEOs are 'prioritising the people agenda as a means to recover and grow.'   The economic climate is also an important factor: 'as the population ages, organisations’ and countries’ prosperity will depend on an increasingly-limited number of talented people producing wealth so CEOs are right to be concerned about having the right people in the business.'

But the bad news (for HR anyway) is that there are 'big questions about whether the human resource function will actually be trusted as an appropriate adviser during and beyond recovery.' 

Michael Rendell, partner at PwC says "There is some debate about whether HR did its job during the downturn and whether the function is broken - particularly in terms of the reward models it champions and its ability to cultivate an agile, flexible workforce.  If not satisfactorily answered, some speculate that these questions could jeopardise HR’s opportunity to prove itself and see it reduced to an administrative function." 

I wonder who will address this strategic issue in organisations if not the HR function?  Consultants can identify solutions but who will implement them?  

The full report may discuss the importance of the line manager in staff morale and employee engagement.  This article highlights the importance of good management skills in a recession and offers some practical suggestions for managing people effectively in the current environment.  Getting feedback from direct reports on the people management skills of line managers through employee surveys and as part of the performance management process can be very valuable.  People pay attention to what gets measured!

Rendell goes on to say "Preparing for the upturn is a clear platform of opportunity for HR and, in the near future, this will mean refocusing on managing through change and engagement programmes as talent gaps need to be closed and roles redefined.  Given the strong focus CEOs appear to be placing on people management strategy and processes, we expect to see significant changes to HR models over this decade.”

It seems to me that this demonstrates the importance of maintaining a strategic focus in HR at the same time as delivering operational requirements, whereas in many organisations operational priorities are delivered at the expense of strategic ones.  Or maybe it's more simple than that - when there are fires burning you can't get anyone interested in what environment is required to grow strong trees.

What do you think?


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