Obtaining Customer Feedback on HR

Finding out what managers and employees think of HR services and the HR function

Carter A, Hirsh W, Mercer M, Reilly P | Report 479 | Institute for Employment Studies | Aug 2011

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There continues to be a lively debate in organisations about whether to seek the views of customers about HR (and which customers to ask) and, if so, how to go about it. By talking to a number of different organisations, IES researchers looked at why they chose to do so, and the varying methods used.

This resulting report suggests that there are different objectives in the customer sensing exercise: how is the service working; what is the quality of HR policy and practice; how effective are HR staff, and is people management improving? Some organisations clearly place the feedback as part of the HR transformation journey and use it to judge progress, whilst others apply it more tactically as a means of assessing current service levels.

The investigation found that a number of methods are employed by HR to gather views during such exercises. Surveys, focus groups and interviews were the prime means through which customer feedback data were acquired, though instant feedback on a service (eg via a call centre) was also tried. The information is then variously deployed in SWOT analyses, linked to other performance data and reflected in scorecards, etc.

This report outlines the challenges organisations have faced in managing the data collected and being pushed towards an over-emphasis on measuring the transactional elements of interaction because they are easy to monitor, rather than the more strategic elements of HR's work. The report also helpfully describes how some case study organisations have overcome these problems.