article by Dr. John Sullivan & Master Burnett For more than a decade there has been a stated interest among many HR professionals to emerge from their basement offices and start getting recognized as professionals capable of devising and executing a strategies that positively impact the bottom line of their organizations. As a result of their efforts, most HR professionals are no longer confined to the personnel office; many organizations now reserve a seat at the boardroom table for the senior-most practitioner. But in reality, has the modern-day practitioner truly evolved? Study after study points to the conclusion that, while HR professionals can now talk a decent game, they make no attempt to actually play it. Spurred by a report from the consulting firm Watson Wyatt that looked at the correlation between HR spending and what line managers identified as strategic, we set out to investigate what recruiters and recruiting managers were doing in the area of strategy. The survey, deployed electronically to more than 7,000 participants in March of 2005, produced results that shocked even the most vocal of HR critics. Over the course of just ten days, more than 840 companies, ranging in size from just 25 employees to well over a million, reported in on the existence and use of a strategy in their recruiting efforts. If you have ever wondered why HR professionals continue to be viewed in a negative light in most organizations, the following results might help you figure out the answer:
- Who’s hiring? Some 96% of the firms responding to the survey had plans to hire either new or replacement staff during the 2005 calendar year. Of that 96%, 26% planned to hire additional staff.
- Existence of strategy. A strategy is a systematic plan of action aimed at accomplishing a goal. With 96% of the firms responding indicating that they planned to hire new staff, we thought it logical that a majority or firms would have a strategy in place that outlined the actions that would be taken to accomplish the task of recruiting. To our surprise, only 42% of the participating firms had developed such a strategy. This response by itself tells us that a majority of practitioners, while they claim a desire to work strategically, often do not. Unfortunately, the sadness did not end there.
- Use of a strategy. Since anyone who has ever worked in a corporate environment is familiar with at least one document that gets produced regularly, printed, placed in a binder, and never referred to, we thought it would be interesting to see how strategies that have been created actually get implemented. Of the 353 organizations that stated they had a strategy, only 154 communicate the key points of the strategy to all internal parties involved in the recruiting process (that’s only 18% of the total survey population.)
- Evaluating the strategy. Having established that the recruiting strategy is rarely shared with those who will play a role in executing it, our attention turned to the role the strategy plays in the organization. Understanding that a strategy is a time-sensitive plan of action, we were very surprised to find that only 88 organizations out of the 353 that have a strategy evaluate it at least once a business quarter to determine the impact of changes in the business environment.
- The story gets worse… While it is very disturbing that a majority of organizations do not devise a recruiting strategy, it is devastating that a majority of those who do develop one often fail to refer to it when making major decisions. Only 42% (148 organizations) of those firms with a recruiting strategy agreed that their strategy is used as a decision filter when executing the actions that constitute recruiting in their organization. Some 50% of the respondents stated that it was “occasionally” consulted, and a full 7% said that it was never consulted post development.
Article Continues Below
Conclusion The core questions were basic, the answers easy to identify with, the results very clear. As much as most professionals talk a good game, when it comes to playing they are not even on the field. Some 93% of the survey respondents, 782 organizations, stated that a recruiting strategy played an “important” role in the organizations success or failure, yet only 18% develop and consistently use such a strategy in their own organization! While not discussed here, the survey also identified that the content of most recruiting strategies, according to the survey respondents, has little relevance to strategy at all and focuses much more on operational processes. An in-depth analysis and overview of the recruiting strategy components found in most organizations will be provided later this month to survey participants.