HR data round-up January 2012: What is the ideal employee to HR ratio in 2012?

“I laugh when I see benchmarks saying the ratio [of employees to HR practitioners] should be 250 to one or even 350 to one.” This is according to Taleo CEO Michael Gregoire, speaking at the recent Human Capital Metrics Conference in New York.

Gregoire noted that this ratio was closer to 60 to one when he entered the HR profession, more than two decades ago. He argues that as the number of employees represented by each HR professional increases, so the ability of that HR professional to undertake anything more than basic administrative responsibilities for each employee gradually decreases. Gregoire says that toward the top end of the employee to HR scale, “that [HR] person is just an administrator.”

He poses the following simple question:

Who has a better view on talent – the HR generalist responsible for 350 people, or someone who is the manager of 10 people? Yet in exit interviews, employees say the number one reason why they leave is that they [don't like] their manager. It doesn’t make sense. We have to drive the HR professional into making more strategic decisions.

XpertHR Benchmarking data on employee to HR ratios

So what is the ideal employee to HR ratio in 2012? Later this year, we publish the findings of the 2011/2012 XpertHR benchmarking survey of HR roles and responsibilities.

This is XpertHR’s annual look at HR functions, what they do, and how they do it – and how effective they are at doing it. Each year, this survey provides a snapshot of the state of the UK HR profession, with data on a host of key metrics relating to the composition of HR departments, including latest updates on HR budgets and the ratio of employees to HR professionals.

Last year, the XpertHR Benchmarking survey of HR Roles and Responsibilities 2010/2011 found that UK employers reported a median ratio of 81.8 employees for each member of HR staff (XpertHR Benchmarking subscription required).

HREmployeeRatio2011XpertHRBenchmarking.JPGXpertHR Benchmarking subscribers can access and drill down into the complete findings of the XpertHR Benchmarking survey of HR Roles and Responsibilities 2010/2011, or download our HR department benchmarker spreadsheet.

The complete results data from our HR Roles and Responsibilities 2011/2012 survey will be added to XpertHR Benchmarking in the near future.

UPDATE 1 (Wednesday 11 January 2012): I’m pleased to say that there have already been some interesting responses to the issues regarding the ideal employee to HR ratio, as raised in this post. Gareth Jones has left a comment, while @deadbeatmum has posted the following response via Twitter:

interesting I had this discussion with a client the other week. I always worked on 100/1.

UPDATE 2 (Wednesday 11 January 2012): Another very interesting response to the issues raised in this post via Twitter, this time from @LizMorris. She says:

it depends on who is included in “HR”, I’ve known some orgs count reception, canteen and ochealth!!

I’m extremely interested to hear if any other XpertHR readers have encountered situations in which reception and/or canteen staff (or those from other functions which might be argued to be outside of what might ‘traditionally’ be classified as part of HR) have been classified as part of HR.

New to XpertHR Benchmarking

XpertHR Benchmarking is continually updated with complete datasets from each new XpertHR survey. Check out the complete list of XpertHR Benchmarking survey data.

The past month has seen the addition of a number of major HR benchmarking datasets to XpertHR Benchmarking, including the following: stress management; and bonuses.

Subscribers to XpertHR Benchmarking can drill down into the complete results data from these surveys. Here’s a selection of key HR benchmarking questions from our bonuses survey (XpertHR Benchmarking subscription required) to open each question:

HR data blog post round-up: January 2012

Here’s our latest monthly pick of top blog posts on HR data issues from XpertHR’s blogs and other blogs:

  • Are you an HR lifer? Latest XpertHR benchmarking research into HR careers includes fascinating analysis of just how many UK HR professionals might be termed “HR lifers.” It finds that just under one in five HR professionals say they began their career in HR. But this figure rises sharply at the most senior level of the profession: One in four HR Directors says their first job was in HR.

  • Job searching with social media There’s an abundance of interesting data relating to how social media are transforming job searching, in this infographic from the HRN Europe blog, looking at research from Career Enlightenment. Here’s just one tidbit: Four-fifths of hiring managers and job recruiters say that they “review applicants’ online info.”
  • Employee engagement in focus. Employee engagement remains a topic of perennial interest and concern for many HR professionals. Recent XpertHR research on employee engagement (XpertHR Benchmarking subscription required) suggested that awareness of the importance of employee engagement has never been higher. But many employers also felt that employee engagement levels had come under serious pressure during 2011. Further interesting analysis of this topic – and the critical impact that trust in executives can have on employee engagement levels – can be found in this interesting infographic on the importance of employee engagement from US-based organisational psychologoy research institute the NBRI. Find out more about the NBRI research here.
  • Will social media lead to the demise of the office? Two-thirds of college students and young professionals in the US believe an “office is unnecessary for being productive” in this age of ever-escalating connectedness via social media. This is one of the findings of research from the Cisco Connected World Technology Report (CCWTR). An infographic illustrating some of the key findings of this survey can be viewed here. Perhaps more worryingly, one-third of respondents claimed that they find the Internet to be more important than food, water and air! Let us hope this latter finding is never put to the test…

About XpertHR’s HR data round-up

XpertHR’s round-up of HR data for January 2012 is the latest instalment in an ongoing monthly series, highlighting latest HR data releases from XpertHR and other sources, alongside links to news stories and blog posts of direct or indirect relevance to issues around using HR data.

If there are any HR-related data measures you would like to see covered in future XpertHR data round-ups, or if there are any surveys or HR data blog posts that you would like to see highlighted, please do get in touch. You can submit comments via the box below, or contact me directly via Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google+.

XpertHR data round-up archive

Catch up with all the posts in XpertHR’s data archive series!

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