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HR professionals lose confidence in line managers' ability to handle people management tasks, Croner research shows

Confidence in line managers’ ability to cope with day-to-day HR tasks remains low despite over half of HR professionals admitting to handing them, according to research published yesterday by Croner.

The YouGov survey of HR senior managers in companies with 100 or more employees commissioned by Croner, provider of workplace, information, software and services part of Wolters Kluwer, has highlighted the need for organisations to equip line managers with the HR skills and know-how they need, or suffer the likely consequences of their staff feeling isolated, lacking direction and becoming demotivated.

The survey also found that 63% of HR professionals had devolved day-to-day HR tasks such as management of disciplinary and grievance procedures to some line managers. But just over half (60%) were only 'fairly confident' that some managers were capable of dealing with smaller day-to-day roles such as booking holiday and recording sickness absence while 62% agreed that maintaining control of such tasks once they had been handed over is a worry for HR.

Richard Smith, head of product development at Croner, said: "The survey showcases a growing, and potentially damaging, uncertainty emerging between HR professionals and line management. As HR evolves into a more strategic role in many organisations, there's a need to hand over day-to-day HR administration to line managers and free up necessary space without adding to headcount or cost.

"The trouble is that while line managers are considered well placed to manage these HR issues given their knowledge of, and interaction with, their staff, in many cases they're are not trained or supported well enough to do it effectively.

"The outcome is potentially negative all round - line managers become overburdened, staff expectations are not met and HR is distracted from delivering more value to the business with 81% of respondents agreeing that there is increasing pressure on HR to deliver value.

"The success of online self-service HR modules has paved the way and now web-based solutions like Croner Professional are poised to deliver accessible controls and support that will enable line managers to deal with their HR case books much more effectively.

"Such programs offer an opportunity to bridge the growing divide between HR and line management and provide the tools both sides need to satisfy staff and management expectations and demands."

The total sample size was 139 senior managers who have HR responsibilities or roles in companies with 100+ employees. Fieldwork was undertaken between 24 and 30 March 2011. The survey was carried out online.