The Disconnect Between HR and Employees Continues

employee disconnectAfter decades of highfaluting and high-minded theories, Human Resources has a fundamental problem. It still does not succeed at the one thing most HR professionals think is the profession’s reason to exist – the coordination of a business’s employees to reach specific organizational objectives. That assumes a reciprocal connection that is just not happening after all this time. Is HR still actively looking for a solution?

Big Thinking

Buzzwords and current management theory tell us that corporate success demands high engagement, low turnover, and employee satisfaction. The theory drives a heads-up Human Resources function that integrates people, processes, and purpose. It requires HRIS technology that drives internal strategies and complies with external compliance. At best, it blends psychology, process management, information technology, risk management, and state and federal law with the intent of aligning the work of the people with the goals of the business.

It is interesting that there is no one sentence definition of Human Resources. Everyone wants to define HR in terms of functions and processes. Most definitions do not explain accountabilities or performance metrics. So, we remain distant from drawing a perfect picture of synergy and integration.

Measuring the Disconnect

Consider the following research reported by the ADP Research Institute® supporting a study in global human capital management. The research indicates that, regardless the overall satisfaction of employees with their employers, a significant disconnect does exist:

  • Employees rank executive leadership lower than HR ranks it. In addition, employees often rank Human Resources Management as low as the HR function itself.
  • Employees generally rank their compensation and benefits less favorably than HR does.
  • Employees do not value their life/work balance as positively as senior management does.
  • Employees simply do not see the career opportunities their HR management sees.
  • HR is under the impression that employees are more satisfied with benefits than they really are.
  • HR management thinks that employees can easily get answers to HR questions although employees say this is not the case.

The report concedes that HRIS technology has considerably improved the administrative efficiency of Human Resources Management. People are served more quickly, and records are clearer and truer. Still, give or take a few interesting points:

  • There is a 20% variance between what leadership thinks of its management and what the employees do.
  • Results find 71% of HR decision-makers reporting confidence in their compensation and benefits plans while only 49 percent of employees share the  confidence.
  • Both HR and employees set their satisfaction with life/work balance at 49% in the U.S., better numbers than in Europe and Asia. Still, that means that 51% are not satisfied.
  • 35% of U.S. workers find their career potential satisfactory while 41% of the HR Managers think more positively.

Adding it Up

The upside may be the conclusion that 63% of employees are generally satisfied with their employment. The very specific metrics indicate some directions management can take however, and they all seem to lie in the area of communications.

There is a core disconnect if employees feel they have:

  1. Inadequate opportunities for professional growth
  2. Insufficient training to do their jobs well
  3. Managers who don’t encourage and support their development and advancement
  4. Inadequate or not useful feedback from management
  5. Performance evaluations that are not fair, appropriate, or deserving.

As ADP research concludes, “Actions running contrary to expectations tend to undermine the accomplishment of goals and strategies.”

Futures Planning

If 21% of employees are looking for another job out of dissatisfaction with a combination of these metrics, Human Resources has challenges on the table. Moreover, we are in an era when the future of HR is debated daily. With academics suggesting splitting HR-Administration from HR-Leadership, we may exacerbate the problem (Harvard Business Review July-August 2014). Add that to the fact that executive management describes an HR Department in terms of functions that interest ownership, human assets remain consumable resources. (

Cultivating communication, sustaining engagement, and aligning individual and corporate goals is time and talent intensive. Human Resource Information Systems in all their configurations strengthen and improve the administrative side of HR. They facilitate much that we consider communication and can measure success in closing the disconnect. But, the time freed by HRIS has to be better spent in developing leadership and talent and the perception of it.

To download a complimentary copy of this ADP Research Institute whitepaper visit Human Capital Management’s Disconnect: A Global Snapshot.

ADP HR outsourcing services handles the HR management and employee benefits for small to mid size businesses.