IPMA-HR Survey Report Reveals Public Sector HR Is Ready to Be Strategic Business Partners

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The International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR) releases its 2015 Benchmarking Survey report called “How Close is Human Resources to Becoming a Strategic Business Partner?” A critical finding from the report showed that eight out of 10 HR practitioners consider their human resources departments to be strategic business partners.

Given the current workforce demographics, there is a critical need for workforce planning and succession planning. This represents an opportunity and challenge for HR professionals to undertake a leadership role.

The International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR) releases its 2015 Benchmarking Survey report called “How Close is Human Resources to Becoming a Strategic Business Partner?”

The survey was sent to 4,901 IPMA-HR members and received 606 responses giving it a 12.3 percent response rate, which is highly predictive of the Association’s membership population.

A critical finding from the report showed that eight out of 10 HR practitioners consider their human resources departments to be strategic business partners, defined as a partner who shares physical and intellectual resources to help solve problems and make decisions for other departments and organization-wide. IPMA-HR’s 2015 Benchmarking report delves into some evaluation criteria, but is not reflective of a comprehensive list.

According to the report, readiness as a strategic business partner is actually two-fold-- at the individual professional level and organizational level. At the organizational level, there can be some barriers to the HR professional becoming a strategic business partner. The top two barriers are a lack of an organization-wide aligned strategic plan (33%) and lack of management support (27%). However, seventy-five percent of the respondents stated having strong management support as a major factor for being successful as a strategic business partner.

Adhering to the definition of strategic business partnership, one major way that public sector human resources professionals can act as strategic partners is by taking the lead on succession planning at their organizations. The waves of retirements are particularly acute in the public sector and are impacting departments organization-wide.

“Given the current workforce demographics, there is a critical need for workforce planning and succession planning, said Executive Director Neil Reichenberg. “This represents an opportunity and challenge for human resources professionals to undertake a leadership role in assisting their organizations. Of course, to do this successfully will require management support and sufficient resources. If human resources professionals are successful in focusing the workforce and succession planning efforts of their organizations, it will go a long way toward moving them in the direction of being seen as strategic business partners.”

Human Resources analytics was also identified in the report as a major function of a strategic business partner when it comes to making major organization-wide decisions. Eight out of 10 survey respondents reported that their departments collect human resources analytics with only 5 percent stating they have above average understanding of HR-relevant data. The survey also showed that data analysis only occupies 9 percent of typical public sector human resources professionals’ activities.

The report identifies some key areas of improvement for HR to be a strategic business partner, including:

  • Take a cross-functional approach in their work and establish analytic credibility. This is important in helping to bring solutions to the table organization-wide.
  • Become knowledgeable about their organization and other department’s goals.
  • Collect human resources analytics and learn how to apply them for strategic business decisions across other departments, especially analytics pertaining to retirements.
  • Initiate discussions with departments faced with upcoming retirements about workforce and succession plans.

The Executive Summary of the report is available on the IPMA-HR website. The full report is attached to this release.

About IPMA-HR
The International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR) is the leading public sector human resources organization in the world, and the premier international provider of public safety tests. IPMA-HR is committed to the advancement of the public sector and the strengthening of our communities by empowering HR professionals with key educational and training opportunities, valuable resources and assessments products, and effective advocacy at every level of government.

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Jenny Chang
IPMA-HR
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