Organisations to change HR structure in 2013-14, says research

Katie Jacobs , 22 Aug 2013


More than one in three (36%) companies plan to make a change to their HR structure before the end of next year, a survey from professional services consultancy Towers Watson has shown.

The 2013 HR Service Delivery and Technology Survey, a global survey of more than 1,000 companies, found 74% of organisations planning to restructure their HR departments hope to gain operational efficiencies. Just over half (53%) are doing so to improve quality, 37% to cut costs and 34% as part of an overall business strategy.

Nearly half (49%) of organisations changing their structures plan to move to a shared services environment, with centres of excellence and HR business partners. In comparison, 17% intend to outsource more and only 12% plan to move to a single HR function for the whole organisation.

The survey found that streamlining business processes is the number one HR delivery issue globally.

“Companies have been carefully examining both their HR structures and the way HR services are being delivered, and many have come to the same conclusion: the time is ripe for change,” said Andrew Steels, EMEA leader of Towers Watson’s HR service delivery practice. “Many organisations see new opportunities to increase HR’s strategic contributions to the business.”

Technology spending steady

According to the survey, organisations’ spending on HR technology remains strong, despite cost reductions in other areas. More than half (53%) of respondents said their investment in HR technology would match last year, and 27% plan to increase spending.

Mobile technology is also becoming more prevalent in HR. More than 60% of respondents provide smartphones to employees, and 24% offer tablets. 

However, only one in 10 organisations uses apps for HR purposes. This is expected to increase, with 25% planning to rollout HR apps in the next 12-18 months. 

“HR service delivery is in a state of change and organisations need to embrace that change as the new constant,” said Steels. “They can change the game by modifying their structure, rethinking long-held processes, adopting new HR technologies and processes, and extending capabilities to the organisation via manager self-service and shared services.” 

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And HR capabilities

Jon Ingham, Strategic HCM 22 Aug 2013

Process redesign, technology, structure change - can all make significant differences to HR's contribution, though I'd suggest structure should generally come after these other changes. But what about the capabilities of the retained HR function - business partnering, psychology and social media skills for example? HR's hope of making greater strategic contributions to the business are likely to be dashed without these.

Future Hard Structures

Nancy Smith 23 Aug 2013

I don't think companies are planning to limit the scope of their vital functions. I think what the article is pointing out is the fact that this is the year they are going to finally chug forth and make the changes - be they in keeping up with technology or in adding newly established disciplines - that they have been holding back on for the last few years. There has been. There has been a significant uptick in HR job openings here in the U.S. just in the last month or so, a definite sign that companies are willing to once again expand. On the HR side this will probably include a few newly-minted job titles.

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