IDC research sponsored by talent management software provider Cornerstone OnDemand looked into the new world of work and the perceptions and expectations of HR leaders and business managers across 16 European countries regarding employee management and development.
According to of Recruitment Buzz, the findings not only reveal differing attitudes regarding flexible working practices and a shift in performance management and collaboration strategies, but they also indicate conflicting views of HR priorities and processes among the two groups surveyed.
For the study, which is unique in its size, geographical coverage and target group, IDC interviewed 1,352 HR professionals and business managers across 16 European countries working in organisations with more than 500 employees. The survey was conducted between January and February 2016 with respondents from the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Netherlands, Poland, Austria, Switzerland, Luxemburg and Belgium.
The UK, Germany, Switzerland and Poland lag behind in flexibility stakes
The report demonstrates the value of flexible working by showing a positive correlation between employee happiness and the adoption of flexible working practices. Yet, the research also reveals that flexible working practices have been taken up at different speeds across Europe, where the lowest flexible working maturity appears to be clustered in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as the UK. Among the respondents from Poland, less than 50 percent of those surveyed were allowed to work from home, while the figure for the Nordic countries was 87 percent.
Business managers and HR respondents stated a low level of flexible working adoption in Poland, the UK, Switzerland and Germany – surprising, given the competitive labour market in these regions. The Nordics, Spain, Benelux and Austria were perceived to be the most mature when it came to flexible working options.
Additionally, HR respondents indicated a higher level of flexible working than line managers. HR’s responses were between 5-6 percentage points higher than line managers, highlighting a lack of alignment between the two groups.
The situation with evaluation and collaboration
According to the study, annual and semi-annual employee performance reviews are still carried out by two-thirds of European organisations. Nevertheless, regular or continuous review practices are appearing to become more popular for employee development (45 percent) and performance (28 percent).
European companies also seem to be embracing collaboration, with a majority of respondents agreeing that employees are good at collaborating (78 percent) and taking on new responsibilities (75 percent). However, work needs to be done to facilitate collaboration, as line managers appear to be less supportive (65 percent) of team members applying for positions outside of their own departments than what HR believes (83 percent). Furthermore, less than half (47 percent) of respondents agree to having a collaborative learning system. However, the research shows that companies with higher growth rates have a higher percentage of collaborative practices.
The disconnect between HR and line managers
The research also indicates that HR overrates its level of support of line managers and also underrates frustration with HR processes. Specifically, HR underestimates the level of frustration with HR processes among line managers, where more than 41 percent of the line managers surveyed agreed that they see it as a major frustration. From the HR professional perspective, that proportion was only 32 percent.
Additionally, there is a lack of consensus regarding how the success of HR initiatives are measured, with HR placing more value on new hire retention, whilst line managers favoured employee time-to-competency.
Comments on the News
“The breadth of the survey, as well as the group surveyed, gives us unique insight into people progression in the changing world of work,”
said Vincent Belliveau, executive vice president and general manager of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Cornerstone OnDemand.
“Better alignment between HR and line managers is required in order for HR to fully redefine its role as a strategic partner within the organisation. HR must adapt to navigate this fast-changing environment – with flexible working on the rise – whilst managing pressure from employees who have different expectations of their employer. Those who succeed will be those who empower their people to support the business through change and growth.”
“This massive survey revealed many interesting discoveries for us. For example, we found how important flexible working practices and the IT tools to support it are for loyalty and pride of talented employees and managers. IT for mobile and remote working, ability to use personal devices at work, and IT training were critical influencers in this respect. However, ‘freedom factors,’ such as permission to work remotely and ability to apply for new positions outside one’s own department, also had critical impact on employee happiness. We conclude that European organizations have work to do both in terms of technology investments as well as more flexible work cultures,”