Survey: HR Getting More Respect

January 22, 2004 ( - The human resources function in the US is really coming into its own with a whole raft of strategic responsibilities, an industry survey found.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the HR profession is growing into a strategic business role by coming up with and putting into place personnel business plans that reflect the organization’s larger goals and priorities.

“The business value HR professionals contribute to their organizations is growing as more CEOs recognize the power of effective people management,” said Susan Meisinger, SHRM president and CEO, in a statement. “HR professionals are capable of leveraging human capital, strengthening organizations and improving the bottom line. The voice of the HR professional is an important one in all organizational decisions.”

SHRM’s member survey found that nearly all (99%) respondents agree that HR represents a unique body of knowledge and skills with three quarters saying that HR’s body of knowledge and skills are recognized as a profession by society in general.

Nearly nine in 10 survey respondents (89%) agree that HR must have business knowledge or experience and nearly every respondent (97%) agrees that business knowledge or experience is necessary to move up the HR ladder. More than three-quarters of HR professionals who responded to the survey hold university degrees and, of those, 39% are in business administration. Individuals with a business background will be called on even more to use their business and HR backgrounds to help employees better understand how they can contribute to organizational goals and strategy, SHRM asserted.

More than 70% of HR practitioners in the survey are in a supervisory job or higher. The majority (63%) of HR practitioners agree that they have considerable autonomy and discretion in doing their work. Despite this authority, though, most HR professionals do not work closely with the organization’s highest officers, as only about 40% report to chief officers, the study found.

Nearly all HR practitioners in the survey (95%) said they are concerned with the well-being of employees and more than 60% of respondents place a higher value on doing good work than on their own compensation.

In line with this value, HR professionals are comitted to professional and organizational development. Nearly a third of survey respondents agree that credentials are needed to work in HR and more than twice as many (64%) believe that credentials and HR certification are necessary for career advancement. More than four in 10 HR practitioners surveyed have professional certification in HR.

US results released Thursday are part of a recent SHRM study benchmarking the state of the HR profession worldwide in 23 countries.