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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
A look at current trends and data
Article Type: Research and results From: Strategic HR Review, Volume 11, Issue 1
Corporate functions need to focus on business contribution, not support
Corporate functions need to drop the “support function” mentality to become true business partners, according to research from consultancy Value Partnership. The research report, Business Partner – new contribution or simply a change of name?, is the result of research among 50 corporate function heads (HR, finance and IT) of top companies to find out how much progress has been made in the development of the 21st century “business partner” model. Following are some of the findings and recommendations from the report:
For many, the job title has changed, but the mindset has not. Business partnering is not a role; it is a way of working based on shared ownership of an organization’s challenges, a passion for ensuring that organizations achieve their goals and a genuine willingness to be held accountable for an organization’s successes and its failures.
The most critical shift required is not one of structure, but one of mindset, with respondents reporting that the ability to think in terms of business contribution, not business support, is what is required to be a true business partner. Partnership means different things to different people – a clear, shared definition built in collaboration with those you hope to partner with is essential.
Business partners must take accountability for business performance. Credible partnership relies on shared accountability for performance and yet there is still a marked reluctance among some functions to rise to this challenge. Achieving the shift means developing those individuals already in place, “growing your own,” and recruiting new talent into the function. Changing the team may accelerate the change, but the key is to attract or develop people who have the appetite, and the ability, to make a very different contribution.
Enlightened individuals recognize the value of true business partnership and are making significant progress through their, often passionate, contribution to driving organizational performance. That said, even these leading lights concede that true business partnership has some way to go and for a minority of the respondents the model is yet to be embedded in any significant way. In a number of organizations the job title “business partner” is used, but in reality the majority of team members are carrying out traditional transactional activities, or responding to the line, rather than working collaboratively to the good of the organization.
Adding value is king
It is clear that many are on an evolutionary journey and that functions can no longer be solely concerned with the traditional process-driven activities, but in making a lasting contribution to business success. However building value and becoming a true strategic business partner is still some way off for many.
While 70 percent of those surveyed are changing the team in order to boost capability, and of this majority 92 percent are redefining the business partnering role and capabilities, only 50 percent are redefining the actual performance needed from business partners. Value Partnership concludes that in today’s business environment, where adding value is king, it is imperative that business function heads change their mindset and focus on performance.
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Businesses urged to treat candidates like customers
Businesses that fail to apply their brand values to the interview process stand to lose out on top talent and revenue. This is one of the conclusions of global research from talent and resourcing company Alexander Mann Solutions (AMS). The research, which examined the opinions of consumers across the UK, US and China, saw more than half (52 percent) of respondents admit that a negative interview experience would have an impact on their willingness to buy products or services from that organization in the future, presenting a major bottom-line threat to businesses.
UK respondents were particularly sensitive to a bad interview experience with 58 percent saying that a poor or negative interview experience would either “definitely” or “probably” have a damaging effect on future buying decisions. A bad interview experience is also unlikely to stop with the candidate. Of respondents 77 percent across all regions said they would be likely to share the experience within either their personal or professional network, rising to 87 percent in the UK.
Challenge and opportunity in social media
The research shows that a bad interview experience can have a serious and lasting impact on a candidate’s perception of that brand, which they are more than happy to share. The saying that “bad news travels fast” has never been more true and social media sites like Twitter and Facebook provide a platform for the disgruntled few to reach millions of people in a matter of seconds.
While social media can pose a clear threat to a business’s brand, it is also an opportunity. Many HR decision makers have historically been hesitant over using social media to interact with a candidate and validate their behavior but AMS’s research shows that many candidates now welcome the opportunity.
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Investment in workplace required to support collaboration
Johnson Controls Global WorkPlace Solutions (GWS), provider of facilities, commercial real estate and energy management, has revealed that there is a gap between the amount of teamwork that today’s workplace can support and the amount that office workers anticipate using in 2020.
The study, which reports results from 1,700 respondents in seven countries, shows that office workers expect to spend more time working in team spaces that incorporate collaborative technologies, such as interactive digital screens, touch surfaces and live video streaming from locations around the world. This shift to working in virtual teams using a range of technologies is coupled with a decrease in the amount of time that office workers expect to spend at their desks, on the phone, or in traditional meeting rooms.
Johnson Controls GWS’ director of global workplace innovation, Dr. Marie Puybaraud, comments: “Although some collaborative technologies are used today, the research indicates that there is a gap between the amount of collaboration supported by today’s workplace and the amount that workers expect to be using in just under a decade’s time. Failure to invest in collaborative technologies and updated workspaces will hamper productivity. This has an impact on people designing new workspaces or retrofitting existing ones today.”
A new workspace emerges
The type of workspace seen in the office is also likely to change. The frequent use of team spaces that incorporate collaborative technologies will increase from a fifth of people who currently report high usage to 52 percent in 2020. However, people expect to be using traditional meeting rooms far less – 40 percent said they currently use them regularly, compared to 27 percent who expect to be regularly using them in 2020.
The use of the desk phone is also set to decrease from the half of people who use them frequently today to just a third. The use of video communication and real-time technologies is set to increase substantially. White-collar workers expect to be using web conferencing, instant messaging and video conferencing far more by 2020. The number of people regularly using web conferencing is expected to triple from 19 percent currently to 57 percent.
Office workers also expect to be using collaborative technologies that are still only at the developmental stage. For example, just under half (44 percent) expect to be using three-dimensional video conferencing in 2020, which would allow users to perceive depth on screen for a more realistic image.
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Businesses using social networking without putting policies in place
Nearly half of all businesses do not have social media and networking policies in place, despite the fact that 76 percent use social networking for business purposes. This is according to a survey by Proskauer’s International Labor and Employment Group of more than 120 multinational employers. In addition, 43 percent of the respondents have reported employee misuse of social networks.
The survey, which was launched in June 2010, asked ten questions aimed at capturing current attitudes and practices concerning social media in the workplace. Questions ranged from “Do you think it is an advantage or disadvantage to your business to allow employees access to social networking sites while at work for business use and non-business use?” to “Do you actively block access to social networking sites at work?” to “Has your business ever had to take disciplinary action against an employee in relation to misuse of social networks?”.
Following are key findings from the survey:
More than three-quarters (76 percent) of businesses use social networking for business.
Of the businesses that use social networking for business, 70 percent only started doing so in the last three years.
Twenty-nine percent of businesses actively block employees’ access to social networking sites. Only 27 percent monitor employee use of social networking sites.
Forty-three percent of businesses have dealt with employee misuse of social networks and nearly a third of all businesses have taken disciplinary action against employees in relation to misuse of social networks.
Despite the widespread use and misuse of social networking at work, 45 percent of all businesses still do not have social networking policies.
Survey participants included in-house counsel, executives and HR professionals across a broad range of businesses, many of which have a global presence and are clients of Proskauer. Accompanying the survey results is a summary of developing law around the world. Different jurisdictions take different approaches to workplace use of social media.
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The survey findings can be found at: www.proskauer.com/files/uploads/Documents/Survey-Social-Networks-in-the-Workplace-Around-the-World.pdf