According to new research from global HR Services Group, Penna, HR Directors have seen their influence increase over the past 12 months, suggesting that the economic climate has provided fertile ground for a new breed of HR Director.

Penna’s Mindset of the HRD involved video interviews with 18 HR professionals from high profile private and public sector organisations with a combined workforce of over 1.1 million. The study investigated the changes, challenges and influence shifts experienced by senior HR practitioners during the last twelve months.

The findings revealed that 83% of those interviewed had seen the focus and functions of their role change in the last 12 months, moving from transactional based support to increased involvement in the development of the organisation’s strategic direction and managing essential change management programmes. The position of the HR Director as a key business partner has also become more apparent. Reflecting this shift in influence, 70% of those surveyed felt that HR did have the right level of representation at senior management level.

Additional findings from the survey include:
• Two thirds have seen a change in the way HR is viewed within their organisation
• HR has to prove it’s worth by being more commercial and strategic
• The Public Sector have made great advances in gender balance at senior level; Private Sector still has to address the issue
• Future challenges for HR include retaining and developing talent, ensuring the workforce has the right skills, restructuring, career development and defining the link between business and society.

Gary Browning, CEO of Penna, said: “This research has provided valuable insight into how the role of HR is changing and how organisations are addressing their current challenges. By engaging with leading HR professionals across a number of different sectors, it is evident that in these challenging times, the role of the HRD goes beyond delivering people strategies. Our study reveals that HR Directors have a much higher profile, an increased level of influence and recognition of a future of further change”.