Survey: HR Issues More Important Than Ever

April 1, 2003 ( - Employers still think most about their workforce despite the faltering economy - particularly about whether employees have the requisite skills to help the company succeed, a survey found.

According to the Accenture survey of senior corporate executives in the US, Europe, and Australia, 74% of respondents said personnel issues are more important for commercial success than they were a year ago. Asked to list their top five strategic priorities, respondents cited workforce-related issues as four of the five:

  • attracting and retaining skilled staff
  • changing organizational culture and employee attitudes
  • changing leadership and management behaviors
  • improving workforce performance.

“Customer care and service” was the only non-workforce-related priority among the top five.

Some 75% of respondents said their companies increased or maintained their human resource (HR) and training and development budgets (73% and 78%, respectively) over the past year. However, only 17% reported that they are very satisfied with the progress they’ve made on their training programs, and only one in four said they believe that most of their employees have the skills to execute their jobs at industry-leading levels.

Measuring Training Impact

This dissatisfaction might be due in part to the fact that many companies do not adequately measure the impact of their HR or training initiatives. For instance, more than one-third of respondents (40%) said their companies do not regularly measure the business impact of these initiatives against factors such as retention, employee satisfaction, innovation, productivity, and quality.

The survey also uncovered a perceived weak spot in employees’ knowledge of corporate strategy and their role in executing it. Only 12% of respondents said they believe that a considerable majority (75%) of their employees understand their company’s overall business strategy. Additionally, only 17% reported that they believe a considerable majority of their employees understand the connection between their jobs and execution of corporate strategy.

Among other findings of the research:

  • Almost three-quarters of respondents (72%) said their companies offer some HR services via the Internet, and 67% said their companies offer some training and development services via the Web.
  • One-half of the respondents (50%) said their companies offer some “just-in-time” training, and 42% said their companies offer “extensive” opportunities for such training.
  • More than one-half (55%) of respondents reported that their companies have processes for sharing knowledge across their companies.
  • More than one-half (57%) of the respondents who said they have outsourced reported outsourcing some HR activities, and 71% reported outsourcing some training and development.

Between August and December 2002, Accenture and NOP World conducted telephone interviews with 200 CEOs, COOs, CFOs, CIOs and senior HR executives in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany, and Australia.