Despite the "'overwhelming' factual evidence that 'progressive' HR practices are associated with improvements in organizational effectiveness or business performance," companies continue to resist adopting them, according to this study. Among 237 companies surveyed earlier in the United Kingdom about 18 such practices, "Only one percent used more than three-quarters of the practices, 25 percent used more than half and 20 percent used fewer than a quarter." Why?
This survey of 98 high-level HR professionals (also in the UK), followed by interviews with 24 of them, tried to answer that simple question. One fact leaps out of the data: the six of 12 people-oriented practices these HR professionals considered least important were the ones they said their companies had made the most progress on! In fact, the correlation was perfect—number 7 in importance was number 1 in progress, importance 8 was progress 2, and so on.
Of course, the researcher points out, those six were also the easiest to implement. For example, improving communications with employees requires a a lower commitment of energy and resources than eliminating management layers. Other obstacles to the "high commitment" practices mentioned in the interviews included upper management and union resistance, and lack of money. But the author also concludes that the HR people themselves were part of the problem—that they were stuck in a view of HR as an administrative function rather than one that could be part of the company's strategic efforts. "It is perhaps no surprise then," he wrote, "that most of the interviewees struggled to provide convincing examples of 'high commitment' HR practices or (metrics) of the impact of HR on organisational performance or effectiveness." Without the ability to do so, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when the HR professional cannot convince managers and employees of the value of these practices.
As for the directly team-related results, "Encouraging team working and co-operation across internal organisational boundaries" was rated as number 4 in importance out of the 18, but only 42% of respondents said their companies had made substantial progress in implementing this. Four obstacles were mentioned:
Source: Caldwell, R. (04), "Rhetoric, Facts and Self-Fulfilling Prophecies: Exploring Practitioners' Perceptions of Progress in Implementing HRM," Industrial Relations Journal 35(3):196.