HR professionals should morph into 'internal consultants', delegates were told at the CIPD Conference in Manchester.
Sharon Doherty, HR director for construction giant Laing O'Rourke, said to prevent HR departments being squeezed out, it is they who should become the consultants CEOs typically spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on.
"The HR function is competing with strong competition from consultants, so it will need to up its game. It is we who have in us the sorts of skills that should allow us to become the internal consultancy," she said. "Instead of being blind about areas such as supply chain management and joint ventures, we should be inquisitive about them, and report their impact back to the business."
According to Doherty, who previously worked on the five-year Heathrow Terminal Five project for BAA, failure to do this could result in HR being "timed-out from the business".
She said: "A PricewaterhouseCoopers study recently found 34% of CEOs said they did not feel confident their HR department was properly equipped to deal with strategic HR issues. This is something that has got to change.
"In the next five to ten years, we need to get more sophisticated in HR, and the way the function itself is run should be the role model the rest of the company should follow
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