Human Resources Department Effectiveness: Measurement and Benchmarking's Role

Human Resource Planning, September 1993 | Go to article overview

Human Resources Department Effectiveness: Measurement and Benchmarking's Role


It is clear that the human resources function is encountering a sea change. For decades in many organizations it has languished as an unappreciated, often disconnected, staff function. With the global marketplace becoming intensely competitive, top management is searching in all directions for opportunities to make the enterprise more effective and profitable. Human resources is coming under their spotlight also. In some cases the scrutiny has been principally to identify how to cut the size of the budget and staff. In other cases the goal i to learn how this traditional expense center can be turned into a value adding operation.

Some human resource managers are taking this new attention as a chance to reposition themselves in company. They are looking for tools that will help the attain a new, more central role. If HR is to change its spots it must find and apply better methods for determining the needs of its customers, designing and delivering the right product or service, and evaluating its performance and the level of its customers' satisfaction.

This issue is focused on two tools that can be used as levers to elevate HR within the organizational hierarchy. One is performance measurement and the other is benchmarking. Measurement, as currently used in most HR departments, i restricted principally to processes. They tend to report frequency or volume of activities along with certain costs, but neglect to show value added. In a relatively few situations, measurement and evaluation have been practiced with great success for a number of years. In many other departments measurement has either been ignored, resisted or applied with little success. A number of surveys and databases are available to support evaluation programs. Most well known are those presented by various compensation services, the Employment Management Association, the American Society for Training and Development, and the Society of Human Resource Management in concert with the Bureau of National Affairs and with Saratoga Institute. Collectively, HR practitioners have a reasonable but not overwhelming amount of objective, normative data at their disposal.

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Human Resources Department Effectiveness: Measurement and Benchmarking's Role
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