Finance keener on HR strategy than HR

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Finance directors in the UK’s largest organisations show more concern over matters affecting people strategy than their HR director colleagues, a new study, revealed exclusively to HR magazine, shows.

According to a report by global employee health solutions firm Vielife and London South Bank University (LSBU), financial directors showed a greater belief that employment matters, in general, have an impact on future organisational performance than their HR counterparts.

Seven out of 10 of financial directors recognised 'recruiting top talent' as a business performance driver (compared to 58% of HRDs), while 74% of FDs rated the quality of training and development as a performance driver (compared to 58% of those working in HR) and 64% of finance directors saw leadership as a performance driver (compared to 54% of their colleagues in the HR department).

Loudhouse Research, backed by LSBU, conducted the Workplace Wellness UK study in April 2011. It involved 100 in-depth telephone interviews with 50 financial directors and 50 HR directors from UK organisations with over 1,000 employees. Of the sample, 63% came from organisations with 1,000-4,999 employees, 22% from 5,000 to 9,999 employees and 15% from organisations with 10,000 or more employees. And respondents came from the public and private sectors.

Despite HR's ownership of employee care, finance showed an equal or greater sense of priority to staff wellbeing in many areas, showing evidence that improving employee health delivers measurable returns and enhances performance and profitability.

The report showed 44% of financial directors said employee health and wellbeing was a 'strategic priority' compared to less than four out of 10 HR directors (38%) ; 92% of finance respondents had also discussed it at board level compared to 82% of HR directors.

Other findings shed light on HR's nonchalance on questions such as bullying in the workplace and working hours. Only 24% of HR directors were concerned about bullying at work (compared to 50% in finance) and just over half of HR respondents were concerned about staff working long hours (compared to 74% of their financial counterparts).

Vielife's MD Mike Beason, said: "I'm pleased and surprised with finance's level of concern. I was expecting a far greater difference between their views of employee wellness compared to HR.

"This gives credence to our belief that, while wellbeing is an HR priority, its benefits are broader than employee morale and do reach the corporate balance sheet.

"HR and finance directors should be working together to make wellness a key driver of performance and staff morale."

Overall, 58% of those surveyed believe investment in health and wellness yields productivity returns, but most underestimate the amount (estimating between £1 and £5).

A return on investment of £6 for every pound invested has been measured by a recent independent study by the Institute for Health and Productivity Management (IHPM), Harvard Medical School and Unilever. HR and finance disagreed on the areas where health and wellbeing had a positive impact, with HR departments prioritising employee morale and commitment (62%) and financial staff seeking more measurable productivity levels (56%).

"There are concerning divisions between HR and finance's objectives for employee health and wellbeing," said Tony Massey, chief medical officer at Vielife. "Finance is more aware of the measurable positive impact on productivity, proven in numerous studies. As both parties collaborate towards a common goal of managing human capital, HR must better appreciate bottom line benefits are critical for success."

 

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