HRs care more for people than profit


Well done, HR. It's great to see we're keeping our people centric values regardless of the 'business person first' blah. Mark misses the point - people are at the centre of business success and it's ...

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HR leaders care more about people than the business, according to findings from the 2019 Global Human Resources Survey

Seventy per cent of the practitioners surveyed said they were in HR to help people grow and develop, whereas only 50% said they were in it to help their company maximise profitability.

The Talent Strategy Group, which conducted the survey, said HR must decide if its purpose is to support people or the business.

“This split view will confuse business leaders and employees as to where HR’s loyalties lie and this will further erode trust in the function,” said Marc Effron, president of the Talent Strategy Group.

Effron told HR magazine the survey raised fundamental and existential questions about the human resources field. “The most concerning thing is that only half of HR leaders are in the function because they want their company to be financially successful,” he said.

The survey also found that HR leaders are sleep deprived. The average HR practitioner is sleeping for just 6.6 hours each night and only 15% reported getting more than eight hours per night or more.

The recommended amount for an adult is between seven and eight hours.

However, HR leaders reported feeling relatively unstressed despite working an average of 50 hours a week.

They cited feeling only moderate amounts of stress and experiencing that stress intensely 25% of the time.

Stress was also found to decrease among chief human resources officers, as only 28% reported feeling stressed compared to 31% of HR leaders.

Each of the 1,200 HR practitioners surveyed answered 31 questions on the state of and trends in HR.

The survey was produced, compiled, analysed and published by The Talent Strategy Group.


Interesting findings from this survey. For me, I think HR have to be in it for both. It cannot be a case of either or, this is not a binary choice. If our businesses are not profitable and financially sustainable then we cant support people to grow and develop because there would be no business. So for me, it's about people and profit in balance, HR has to be commercially savvy with a strong and authentic human-centred focus, this is the context for HR and business to flourish.


Well done, HR. It's great to see we're keeping our people centric values regardless of the 'business person first' blah. Mark misses the point - people are at the centre of business success and it's by focusing on people that a business will be successful. Profitability is an emergent and oblique result of this. The confusion will be resolved when business leaders understand they need to take this approach too. I think we've already get there for customers - most leaders know they need to put customers before profits. Now we need to extend that approach further back in the value chain too.


Thanks Jon but no point missed at all. If we don't care about the success of the business, there will be no place for people to work! A business thrives because of people, but if our first interest is making people happy, rather than making our businesses successful and sustainable, companies and jobs will rapidly disappear (see WeWork, et al). As the longer report says (please read in its entirety), a balance between the humanistic and capitalistic is the ideal for an HR leader. Any lopsidedness either way will quickly result in disaster.


Hi Mark, yes, I'm planning to, as I do most of your research, which I do think is great, even if I often disagree with the conclusions. From the article, I stick by most of my remarks (although I'll accept I *may* have misinterpreted your point). My point is that HR and the businesses we're should focus on people first. However this needs to be an agreed view, which HR should try to inform. If a business doesn't put its people first, then HR (after challenging this) needs to step into line and perform the role of a support function, *supporting* the business to achieve its objectives for profitability. If a business does put people first, often as a result of successful influencing from HR, then HR can step into a truly strategic role creating new opportunities for a business, based on what it does for its people. So it's not about a balance, but recognising people are the key leverage point for business profitability. But also importantly, this isn't about HR's loyalties. Businesses won't be confused because some of us believe in putting people first and some don't, they'll be confused if we have a different perspective from the business we support and ideally strategically enable. Businesses have different perspectives so to an extent, it's a good thing that we have different perspectives too.


Thanks Jon -- I'm not sure if we're in violent agreement or violent disagreement on this point. I'll try to clarify my point to see which it is. A business is comprised of many valuable assets including people, financial reserves, machinery, intellectual property, patents and so on. All of those elements help to make a business successful and contribute value in different ways. The minute we pull aside one of those things and say it is separate from the business (or possibly in opposition to it), is when we start to run into trouble. My perspective is that it is HR's job to manage people as a valuable set of assets to help achieve business results. I look to Finance to manage income and expenses to help achieve business results. I look to R&D to manage patents to help achieve business results. BUT, if we say that HR is now not trying to manage people to achieve business results, but to some other (undefined) end, then HR becomes a union or resisting force within the business. That view suggests that employees need to be protected from the wicked intent of business leaders who are altogether too ignorant about their business to properly invest in employees and who will surely run the company into the ground without HR there to get in the way. This, despite the fact that those same business owners are the ones who created the business that employees all those people. Our survey data suggests that a sizeable proportion of HR leaders believe exactly that. It's that view that understandably causes business leaders to reject HR - "Why would I value someone who is telling me that I'm managing people wrong and actively working against our business goals??" HR can be advisors, have independent points of view, work to influence, work to inform and work to make the business tremendously financially successful. But, when they decide that their job is not to work for the business's interests and start to prioritize humanistic elements of the workplace over business elements, they lose their right to be considered valuable.

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