HR, Finance Differ on Collaboration, Workforce, Data

Disagreement

While HR professionals push the notion they can directly contribute to their organization’s strategy and bottom line, they continue to have challenges working with their colleagues in Finance.

For one thing, they have differing worldviews when it comes to the state of collaboration. According to workforce analytics company OrgVue’s report Making People Count, 45 percent of HR leaders call their rapport with Finance productive. However, only 25 percent of Finance professionals agree. Since many observers say collaboration between the functions is critical to business success, that gap might indicate a difference in priority as well as perception.

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More concerning, a fight may be brewing over who controls the long-term development of the workforce. Seventy-six percent of HR respondents say workforce planning should be their responsibility, while 55 percent of Finance professionals say it should be theirs. While that disagreement’s no surprising, resolving that conflict may not be easy when there’s a 20-point spread on the question of productive relationships.

These dynamics aren’t only about culture and attitude, as a report from Oracle suggested earlier this year. It’s also about technology. According to OrgVue’s report, just 28 percent of HR and Finance departments share reporting systems and processes.

Exacerbating that is a lack of workforce data, or uncertainty about how to use it. For example, fewer than half of the enterprises surveyed—48 percent—said they could confidently say whether their employees are deployed to support business strategies in the most optimal way. And although 67 percent of HR and Finance decision makers believe it’s important for their most talented employees to be focused on the most critical work, only 45 percent can say whether they actually are.

Another point: Seventy-one percent of HR professionals say they have access to people data, compared to just 42 percent of those in Finance. Organizations have known about that discrepancy for years, OrgVue said, but they’ve done little to develop “systematic, collaborative approach to workforce analytics.”

Budgets Over Workforce?

All this hints at corporate leadership extolling the importance of their employees but not backing their words with real investment. Of course, budgets loom over the entire discussion, with more than two-thirds of U.S. businesses saying cost reduction is the top challenge they expect to face in the coming year.

Companies can meet that challenge by approaching cost reduction as an ongoing effort, said Russ Clarke, OrgVue’s president for North America. To do that they must build “transparency and control between Finance and HR to evaluate workforce management” on a regular, monthly basis.

OrgVue provides SaaS workforce analysis and modeling solutions, so it’s no surprise advocates using data as a solution. “Leveraging data to break down these silos can create significant value and ensure more agility,” said Clarke.

However, the survey’s results hint that’s easier said than done. For example, 64 percent of businesses say it’s important for their workforce to be aligned with their operating model and strategy, but only 44 percent say that it is.

HR’s ‘Actionable Data’

OrgVue’s findings echo those of the research published by Oracle earlier this year, which contended that collaboration between HR and Finance is held back by short-term mindsets and entrenched cultures. In short, Finance doesn’t agree with the notion that HR has become more sophisticated in its approach to business strategies and analytics.

That’s not surprising. HR has talked for years about advanced technologies, and even begun to implement them. Yet at the same time, training has lagged in many data-related aspects of workforce management. For example, many professionals say they’re comfortable using analytics to identify workplace problems, but not to solve them.

Both vendors and customers seem to be aware off this. Just consider how often you see phrases like “actionable data” in technology marketing materials.

You can download a copy of the report here.

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