HR leaders are crucial drivers of transformation in UK businesses through their role in promoting devolved decision making, employee engagement and collaboration, finds new research from Ipsos LEAD and Cirrus.
The report, ‘Leadership Connections: HR’s role in business transformation’ surveyed senior HR professionals to gauge their views on the challenges facing their profession. It also draws on insights from Ipsos MORI’s Representative Employee Data (RED) and Captains of Industry (COI) research. A key finding of the new report is that HR leaders can drive transformation by bridging the gap between leadership and employees in order to create a shared sense of direction, values and collaboration across organisations.
Businesses across the UK are facing pressure to adapt to changing customer demands, operate more efficiently in complex marketplaces, and respond to economic and political upheaval such as Brexit. Despite this, while almost 70% of employees understand the need for change, and six out of ten support it, only half think innovation is well managed.
This is a huge challenge – and opportunity – for HR leaders in terms of bringing employees on board with change. The majority of HR leaders profiled in the new report stressed the importance of defining a clear vision and sense of purpose.
“People would rather work for a cause than a company,” says Sean Mills, executive director of Ipsos LEAD and co-author of the report. The research shows that, statistically, having a believable and compelling vision is a vital component of an employee’s engagement with an organisation, even more so than having a great line manager. In the UK under 60% of employees believe that they receive a clear vision from their leaders about the future direction of the organisation, with roughly the same amount stating that they endorse that vision.
Enabling devolved decision-making is also a key priority, breaking away from the traditional command and control structure and instead equipping employees with the skills to use their own initiative.
Commenting on the findings, Cirrus CEO Dr Simon Hayward, said: “When addressing many of the issues highlighted in this report, such as increasing agility and collaboration, HR leaders can help organisations to adopt a more ‘connected’ approach to leadership. This marks a pronounced shift from the old style of hierarchical command-and-control to a new way of leading through influence and encouraging collaboration, based on a shared sense of purpose and direction. This helps to build more agile and adaptable organisations, capable of successful transformation.
“Many transformation initiatives are still focused on process and systems than on actually empowering employees and engaging them with change. By devolving decision-making and empowering front-line employees, HR leaders can increase customer-centricity and competitiveness, and drive performance.”
This is the third annual Leadership Connections research report in a series which has previously explored how HR leaders can connect with the C-suite, contribute to strategy and develop agility and innovation.
The results of this year’s Leadership Connections research will be discussed in an interactive lunchtime webinar on Wednesday 10 May. Please sign up here. If you’d like to discuss this year’s research, please let us know. We’d love to talk to you.