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In late 2005-early 2006, Accenture and Fairfax Business Research surveyed several leading Australian organizations about their human resources (HR) function.
Executives included both HR and non-HR management and were from the public and private sectors. The research looked at the key issues facing HR and other managers in Australia today as they seek to achieve high performance.
Based on the research, our hypothesis is that many Australian HR operations still do not have the characteristics of high-performing HR functions. Too often HR is regarded as a tactical rather than a strategic function, focusing largely on operational matters. The research report provides a basis to identify areas that may be lacking and which, when properly addressed, can help organizations make the transition to high-performance HR.
The HR function in Australia faces many challenges. There are significant shortages of talent, partially as a result of increased global competition for jobs. The population and the workforce are aging, and at the same time younger people are displaying differing attitudes towards work and careers.
The research focused on a number of key questions including:
As might be expected, there were many different views on the role of the HR department, and on how it should fulfill that role. Some organizations were advanced in their thinking, displaying an integrated and strategic approach to HR, but they were in the minority. Most organizations still display a view of HR that is centered on transactional processing or the streamlining of existing functions, rather than the development of a set of integrated HR and organizational capabilities.
The key findings are as follows:
HR transformation is no longer a luxury, but a competitive necessity. HR executives have an essential role in the future success of their organization. Using the context of the primary Australian research and the high-performance characteristics, Accenture believes it is possible to distill a series of practical steps every HR function should examine to maximize their potential. Our report outlines a multi-stage process that HR executives can use to maximize the potential of HR's contribution to the organization.
Catriona Brash is the executive partner in charge of Accenture’s Talent & Organization service line in Asia Pacific. Brash has been with the company for over 20 years and has worked with clients in Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the United States in a variety of industries. The majority of her career has focused on helping clients address the organizational and workforce challenges of large scale change and business transformation.
Andrew Woolf is a senior manager in Accenture's Talent & Organization Performance group with responsibility for HR transformation in Australia. Andrew has more than 12 years experience in change management, in the implementation of HR shared services and HR outsourcing. He has worked extensively on HR transformation initiatives in Europe, the United States and Asia Pacific, delivering HR solutions.
April 13, 2006
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