New Research Spotlights HR Management Policies, Practices in U.S.


By Kathy Gurchiek September 14, 2015

Senior-level HR professionals say their role is becoming increasingly strategic, according to the findings of a new report from the Cranfield Network on International Human Resource Management, the Center for International Human Resource Studies (CIHRS) at the Pennsylvania State University, and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

The survey was conducted among 693 senior-level HR practitioners, some of whom were SHRM members, at organizations with 200 or more employees. CIHRS collected the data in 2014 and 2015 in collaboration with SHRM. Where possible, data were compared to previous findings from 2004 and 2009 to show trends.

HR Management in Organizations

Increasingly, organizations are recruiting their head of HR internally: In 2014-15, 36 percent of respondents followed this practice vs. only 22 percent in 2004 and 24 percent in 2009. HR departments are consulted when the organization is going through a merger, relocation or is being acquired, with more than half of HR departments reporting they are being consulted from the outset.

Most responding organizations (70 percent) said HR has a place on the board of directors. That compares to 63 percent who thought so in 2009 and 41 percent in 2004. Two-thirds (66 percent) of responding organizations reported having a written HR management strategy.


HR departments are moving away from sharing the primary responsibility for major recruitment and selection policy decisions with line management; now one of the two parties typically takes sole responsibility. HR is usually more active in establishing pay and benefits policies, and line management tends to be more active in training and development.

“The increasing regulatory environment may be playing a part here with firms needing clear guidelines around responsibilities to ensure compliance with regulations and standards,” the researchers wrote in the report.

Employee turnover has risen “quite substantially,” to 19 percent in 2014-15, up from 16 percent and 12 percent in 2004 and 2009, respectively. There’s also a trend toward less-frequent use of part-time arrangements among employers and more telework and shift work. The report suggests the increase in shift work may reflect a larger presence of health care respondents in 2014-15.

The top recruitment strategies cited for managerial, professional and clerical/manual positions were internal transfers and advertising job openings on the company’s website.

These recruitment methods were followed by commercial job websites and word of mouth/employee referrals. Between 39 percent and 45 percent said they use social media to recruit. For managerial positions, just 15 percent use social media profiling and 10 percent use online selection tests as recruitment methods.

“Most organizations need to get a better handle on what is the right mix of sources, techniques and programs that are going to help [their] recruiters do their job more effectively,” said Ben Gotkin, principal consultant for Recruiting Toolbox Inc, a consulting and training firm that partners with HR and recruiting leaders to build and deploy recruiting strategies.

Seventy-eight percent of respondents said they used interview panels and 76 percent used one-on-one interviews as recruitment methods for managerial positions. But Gotkin said he thinks too many hiring managers lack formal training in interviewing “and as a result, are kind of winging it.”

“There is a method to effective interviewing and selection. Without that sort of formal training ... it’s pretty ad hoc and a lot of things can happen. If good hires are made, it’s often chance.”

Performance Management

The vast majority of organizations reported having a formal performance review system (96 percent for management, 95 percent for professional staff and 93 percent for clerical/manual staff).

Three-fourths (76 percent) said they use performance appraisals predominantly for pay/salary decisions. Nearly the same percentage use appraisals for decision-making related to career moves and identifying opportunities for training and development.

The number of days for training has increased from 6.2 days in 2004 for both management and professionals to 7.8 days for both in 2014-15, with low-cost methods such as on-the-job training, project teamwork, informal coaching and computer-based learning being the most popular. Job rotation, formal networking and high-potential programs “are relatively rarely used despite their in-house nature,” the report noted.

“Ultimately, the question [that] has to be asked by HR and training officials is: What method’s going to not only ensure my people are learning what I want them to learn, but are they developing proficiencies, and how are we going to measure that over time?” Gotkin said.

“How is what they’re learning going to be reflected in their performance management and their goals? How are you going to be sure they are applying what they learn? Follow-up is critical.”

Kathy Gurchiek is the associate editor at HR News.

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