How Do HR’s Challenges and the Organization’s People Priorities Stack Up?

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Feb 10, 2016

I love great graphics.

Great graphics can really make a point. They can help people digest complex data points and make sense out of the numbers.

Quantum Workplace’s new report, the State of Employee Feedback, does all of these things.

The things I found most interesting about the data, however, was not about the state of employee feedback, but rather, about HR’s priorities and their view of organizational people challenges.

This report isn’t really about those things, but they’re pretty interesting. Quantum Workplace polled HR professionals in nearly 300 organizations that cover the size spectrum. (There’s no information on industry sectors or geographic location, sadly, but maybe those are being saved for another report.)

5 key findings

The high level, easily consumed findings (and terrific graphics) focus on five (5) areas:

  1. What are HR teams’ biggest challenges?
  2. What will be prioritized in the coming year?
  3. What employee feedback strategies and tools have become more or less important?
  4. What tactics and strategies are organizations using to measure and improve their employees’ experience
  5. What are the most engaged organizations doing differently?

As a vendor white paper, the report is most focused on discussing findings on issues 3 – 5.

While they are all interesting and probably useful as a backdrop, the first two were most interesting to me. They show in great specificity the challenge that is being an HR professional today.

Top HR challenges

This survey’s respondents listed these as their top organizational HR challenges:quantum-workplace-1

It’s interesting that proving the ROI of HR initiatives is in the No. 3 spot and not No. 1. As HR becomes more and more a strategic business function, and less and less an administrative “overhead” function, I would assume that proving the ROI of everything HR does would move to the top of the priority list. That’s how business functions operate.

But wait — there’s more.

Top people priorities for organizations

I’m comparing and contrasting that list – of HR challenges – with HR’s self-report of top organizational people strategies:quantum-workplace-2

This is as good a list of or organizational people strategies as I’ve seen.

No one is probably surprised that Attracting Top Talent is the first organizational priority. And even though there is no common definition of Employee Engagement, no common way to measure it, and no indication that it’s improving anywhere in the world, it’s not surprising that HR folks would put this category in second place for its organization.

Yes, talent acquisition and employee engagement are the tip of the spear in all popular business and HR content outlets.

What I’d like to see are the same questions posed to CEOs and CFOs in those same organizations. I’d love to see if those other senior leaders identify the same HR challenges and people priorities in the same order.

Call me crazy, but I’ll bet there would be significant differences in both categories and rank order.

A good start, but time to dig deeper

And that’s my point today. HR talking to itself about HR and people processes is not bad. Better, though, would be HR talking to other business leaders about HR and people processes.

I hear anecdotally that this is starting to happen, but the simple fact that Finding an Executive Sponsor is on the list of HR’s top challenges for 2016 tells me it isn’t happening nearly enough.

This originally appeared on China Gorman’s blog at