According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the human resource (HR) profession is maturing into a strategic business role by creating and implementing business plans for human capital that mirror the goals and priorities of the organization. The SHRM study benchmarks the state of the HR profession worldwide in 23 countries and 11 languages.
The purpose of the study was to provide an occupational snapshot of HR as its practitioners view it today. The study surveyed a random sampling of SHRM members and explored several components of HR professionalism including body of knowledge, autonomy, ideology of service, credentialing, recognition and external control.
“The business value HR professionals contribute to their organizations is growing as more CEOs recognize the power of effective people management,” said Susan R. Meisinger, SPHR, president and CEO of SHRM. “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.”
HR Body of Knowledge Contributing to Organizational Success
Nearly all (99 percent) respondents agree that HR represents a unique body of knowledge and skills. More than 75 percent of practitioners agree that HR’s body of knowledge and skills are recognized as a profession by society in general.
More CEOs expect HR professionals to have a firm grasp of the business and overall marketplace. Survey respondents (89 percent) agree that HR must have business knowledge or experience and nearly every respondent (97 percent) agrees that business knowledge or experience is necessary to advance one’s career in HR. More than three-quarters of HR professionals who responded to the survey hold university degrees and, of those, 39 percent 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.
HR Professional Discretion and Autonomy and Ideology
More than 70 percent of HR practitioners in the survey hold a position at the supervisory level or above. The majority (63 percent) of HR practitioners agree that they have considerable autonomy and discretion in doing their work. Despite this autonomy and authority, most HR professionals do not work closely with the organization’s highest officers, as only about 40 percent report to chief officers.
Still, HR professionals express great regard for the work they do and for the service they provide employees. HR practitioners in the survey (95 percent) are concerned with the well-being of employees in their organization and more than 60 percent of respondents place a higher value on doing good work than on their own compensation. In line with this value, HR professionals are committed to professional and organizational development.
Occupationally Controlled Education, Training, Credentialing and Certification
Nearly 30 percent of survey respondents agree that credentials are needed to work in HR and more than twice as many (64 percent) believe that credentials and HR certification are necessary for career advancement. More than 40 percent of HR practitioners surveyed have professional certification in HR.
It is also important to note that most HR practitioners use a variety of continuing education opportunities, such as membership in professional HR associations, like SHRM, and attendance at industry and academic conferences that allow individuals to gain more business knowledge.
Recognition of HR as a Profession
In the United States, HR has a recognized body of knowledge and skills that add value to the organization’s bottom line. However, the profession does face some professional obstacles that closely tie to the overall recognition of HR as a profession. The perception that HR is not held in high esteem by the organization, the lack of corporate HR strategy, the lack of HR budget and the lack of top-down implementation of HR strategy are the most challenging obstacles. It is critical that more HR professionals increase their visibility within organizations if the HR profession is to continue maturing. HR professionals can use their expertise to improve retention, recruitment, corporate culture, productivity and morale – all of which have a direct impact on the bottom line and a positive impact on the profession as a whole.