Strategic human resource management: the policy and the practice, the past and the future

IES is partnering with the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, to investigate the state of strategic human resource management in UK organisations.

Thirty years after the concept of strategic HRM arrived in the UK from across the Atlantic, the project will analyse the key issues on organisations’ HR agendas. It will consider how and how well people management activities are integrated with business strategy, and HR’s contribution to innovation and change. Importantly, the project will compare and contrast both the recent academic research and real-life practice in this area, and how research and practice could and should evolve in the future.

Do organisations still have HR strategies in these fast-moving times?  What do they call them? Most importantly, how do they land and deliver them and ensure that HR policies really are having an impact on employee engagement and wellbeing and organisation performance?

The project will comprise a review of the academic literature on strategic HRM, alongside a quantitative survey of HR directors and detailed case-study research in a range of employers.

Assessing the realities of strategic HRM, this project will identify the extent to which HR is contributing to business strategy and performance, and how this fits with calls for HR’s future role to be as the guardian of culture and values and the ‘moral compass’ of an organisation. What do HR directors think about increasing government intervention through employment legislation and how are they balancing the demands of their different stakeholders: leadership, employees and wider society?

Business strategies and workplaces are very different to the norm 30 years ago and so we need to document how the concept and practice of strategic HRM has evolved and needs to change now. Intelligent HR software and changing workforce expectations could be the gateway to the birth of a new-look, evidence-based and values-driven HR function. HR policies could contribute to addressing the corporate and national skills crisis, achieving genuinely agile and diverse organisations, increasing employee engagement and involvement and social inclusion, and responding to the present and future challenges of job automation. But just how and can HR functions build that positive future?

For more details of the project and to take part as a case study, please contact Duncan Brown. IES head of HR consultancy: