About the Respondents 
Nine hundred and eighteen people took part in the 2014 Harvey Nash HR Leadership Survey. Almost one in ten respondents (9 per cent) are senior (C-level) executives, defined as a divisional or organisation- wide leader. The majority of respondents are senior HR decision-makers (41 per cent) with job titles that include Vice President, Director, or Head of HR. A further 39 per cent have HR management responsibilities. Just under half of the respondents (43 per cent) have global or multinational HR responsibilities.
Board HR Priorities 
Developing the skills and capabilities of the leadership team is the top priority for 64 per cent of HR professionals, closely followed by a focus on performance management and talent management (both 61 per cent), employee engagement (56 per cent) and recruitment (52 per cent) initiatives. When asked what single HR priority would be the most important in the coming 12 months, employee engagement was ranked highest.
HR Reporting and Performance
Advancements in HR reporting technology provide more opportunity than ever before to measure and report on the performance of HR deliverables. While a large majority of HR professionals measure employee turnover (75 per cent), employee engagement (65 per cent) and employee retention (55 per cent), less than one in five HR professionals (18 per cent) measure the effectiveness of HR communication and less than a third (32 per cent) regularly report on employee productivity. 
The shifting focus of HR priorities is also leading to a misalignment in the value of the work delivered by HR. Fifty per cent of respondents believe their HR function excels at work with HR policies, yet less than one in ten respondents (8 per cent) say work with HR policies is a high priority for the organisation. 
HR Challenges 
From a diverse range of answers it is clear that the speed and scale of change is likely to impact, and possibly overwhelm, many HR professionals in the coming year. The fact that many of the most difficult HR challenges are also the top HR priorities that senior leaders want HR professionals to focus on will add pressure to an already daunting to-do list.
Labour Market Trends 
The labour market trends that most concern respondents to the 2014 Harvey Nash HR Leadership Survey are based on the tight supply of labour with appropriate skills (51 per cent) and the inability to recruit the best talent locally (52 per cent). 
There is a significant gulf between HR professionals in Asia and Europe regarding the impact of an ageing workforce. While four in ten European HR professionals (39 per cent) rate the ageing workforce as a major labour market challenge for them, only 27 per cent of HR professionals from Asia share the anxiety. 
The single most important HR priority for the coming 12 months is employee engagement
Internally available recruitment tools such as the corporate website (58 per cent), an internal recruitment team (56 per cent) and promoting from within (52 per cent) remain more popular than social media-led activity (49 per cent) and LinkedIn advertising (38 per cent). However, less than half of respondents rate their recruitment strategy as very successful, where most or all the talent requirements were met, suggesting external recruitment experts can still add value.
Employee Engagement 
Including high performers in succession planning (53 per cent) and providing access to senior leaders (52 per cent) to act as mentors are important to more than half of HR professionals to boost employee commitment to the organisation. The compensation structure is used by HR professionals primarily to ensure that the organisation can compete to attract and retain the best talent (66 per cent), while only 36 per cent use compensation to ensure that a strong performance ethic exists.
Diversity and Inclusion 
Diversity and inclusion policies have been established by many of the HR professionals, but implementing diversity programmes remains a lower priority than employee engagement, talent management and recruitment. Despite widespread recognition that gaps exist in diversity programmes, there appears to be little urgency to increase the progress with diversity initiatives: 60 per cent of respondents did not plan additional activity. 
Diversity in HR 
It is sometimes the case that diversity initiatives put in place for the organisation are overlooked within the HR department itself. While almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of the respondents are female, more than half (53 per cent) of senior HR leaders (C-level, Vice President or Director title) are male. 
These results pose questions about the HR career path for ambitious female HR professionals and why comparatively fewer women are making it into the top HR job.
HR Career 
Almost half (43 per cent) of HR professionals have moved role within the last two years, compared to only 32 per cent who were in a similar position 12 months ago. At the same time, the proportion of HR professionals staying with their employer for more than five years has dropped to 18 per cent (down from 22 per cent last year).
The increasing transition within the HR job market is accompanied by a slight drop in the level of fulfilment experienced by HR professionals in their role. In 2012, 89 per cent were fulfilled or very fulfilled in their role, but by 2013 this has dropped to 85 per cent. While still an overwhelming majority, a decline in job satisfaction is cause for concern by employers looking to retain their top HR talent. 
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