Underinvestment in Talent Has Created Deficits in Important Skills

Finance, IT, procurement, and other business services areas are in the midst of a growing talent crisis, and the failure of HR and business services leaders to effectively collaborate is in large part to blame, according to new research from The Hackett Group, Inc. 
The study notes that business services organisations -- including finance, IT, procurement, and even HR itself -- are seeing dangerous deficits in talent and skills, and are highly dissatisfied with the level of support they receive from HR on talent issues.
In large part, this dissatisfaction is being driven by the extremely low levels of service that HR is providing, and lack of effective communication and collaboration between business services leaders and HR. 
The research found that business services organisations say they're getting talent management support from HR less than 35 percent of the time on average. In addition, the percentage of companies saying HR is providing a full range of services is 13 percent or less. 
"At most companies, business services functions were badly weakened by across-the-board cuts during the recent recession," said The Hackett Group Global HR Practice Leader Harry Osle. 
Osle notes that underinvestment in talent has created deficits in important skills such as business acumen, strategic thinking and analysis, change management, and process improvement capabilities. 
Yet companies seem to be almost completely ineffective at addressing this talent challenge, in large part because HR and business services leaders are not collaborating. 
"This is a dangerous situation with the potential to cripple companies that don't address it quickly. While these business services functions are often considered cost-centers, they provide key services that enable companies to manage and optimise assets ranging from cash, capital and talent to technology and product/service inputs."
Almost across the board, the study found that business services organisations are highly dissatisfied with the level of support they receive from HR on talent management issues.
Companies in The Hackett Group's study said they were either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with HR support for business services nearly 70 percent of the time on average. 
Companies were most unhappy with HR support for collaboration and knowledge sharing (79 percent dissatisfied/very dissatisfied) and retention (70 percent dissatisfied/very dissatisfied).
In large part this dissatisfaction is being driven by the low levels of service HR is providing to business services. The research found that business services organisations say they're getting talent management support from HR in these areas less than 35 percent of the time on average. The percentage of companies saying HR is providing a full range of services is 13 percent or less.
In some of the worst areas, such as retention and collaboration/knowledge-sharing, 18 percent or fewer of companies in the study said their HR organisations are providing adequate levels of services or expertise. 
In other areas, including workforce planning, performance management, and learning and development, only 33 to 47 percent of all companies said adequate levels of services are provided.
The study found that even in the top-performing area, recruiting and staffing, over 40 percent of all companies say only limited services and expertise are being provided by HR. And in all areas, the number of companies that say HR provides a full range of services and expertise in these areas ranges from only 13 percent, for recruiting and staffing, to 7 percent for performance management, to 5 percent or less for all other areas.
The Hackett Group study said that one key explanation for HR's inability to effectively support talent management needs of business services is that HR has had a hard time adapting to its changing mission of enabling business performance. 
At many companies, HR budget and staff cuts made during the recent recession remain in effect, impacting on talent management programs, along with training, career development, and retention programs. 
Finally, few HR organisations have a dedicated business partner role responsible for communicating and understanding the talent management needs of business services functions like finance, IT and others.