Overseas firms ahead in personnel matters

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FOREIGN-OWNED companies operating in Britain are more than twice as likely to have a personnel director on the board than their UK-owned counterparts, writes Roger Trapp.

They are also likely to have more sophisticated personnel management policies, according to a report for the Institute of Personnel Management published today.

The survey, covering 176 companies with more than 1,000 employees, found that 54 per cent of foreign-owned organisations had board-level personnel specialists compared with just 22 per cent of British groups.

The study, published in the February issue of Personnel Management, shows that companies with personnel directors on the board are more likely to use performance targets for senior managers, to link pay and productivity and to adopt flexible working practices. These are all widely regarded as indicators of effective management.

The study is based on an analysis of data gathered in a 1992 survey by Jon Purcell, fellow in human resource management at Templeton College, Oxford.

Mr Purcell said: 'A consistent picture emerges of a rounded, sophisticated personnel function being much more likely to exist where there is a main board director wholly or mainly devoted to personnel matters.'

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