B. Covarrubias Venegas, T. Thill, S. Groblschegg

FHWien University of Applied Sciences (AUSTRIA)
The roles and activities of human resource management (HRM) have changed a lot in the past years. Driven by a changing environment the scope of human resource (HR) activities has widened. Besides cost efficiency, optimisation and service-orientation of the HR processes, the development of the employees became more and more important. Today, the demographic change and skill shortages cause new challenges for companies and their human resource management. The strategic alignment of the HR activities and the development of sustainable HR strategies are crucial to ensure the long-term success of a company.

This strategic focus of HR has been discussed in science for many years. But what about the implementation of this strategic focused HR as a business practice? This quantitative survey examined the extent of the current strategic focus of HR activities in the three DACH-region countries. A comparison of their current HR business practices is of particular interest, as they are strongly economically and culturally connected and there is a lively exchange of employees. The following questions led the survey:
• What is the current focus of the HR activities in the DACH-region?
• How does this affect the resources dedicated to the different HR roles?
• Are there any differences in the focus of the HR activities within the DACH-region?

Based on the HR Role Model of Dave Ulrich, where the HR roles are differentiated by their operational and strategic aspects and the focus on processes and people, the study examined the organisation of the HR activities in terms of content, the resources spent on these roles and the extent to which these roles were regarded as management positions. Besides the status quo, the companies were asked for an estimation of the past and future development. The roles were tested on the basis of a factor analysis.

The results indicate that there was a major shift regarding the focus of HR activities. In all three countries HR is now mostly seen as an employee champion, coming from an administrative, process oriented HR understanding. The strategic aspect of HR roles also evolved remarkably. And as the results show that shift is not yet completed. The most important driver for the change is the increasing competences of the HR professionals. Regarding the intercultural aspect it is remarkable, that despite these development most of the HR functions are not seen as management positions in Germany and Austria.

As strategic management is mostly a management and top-management issue, the importance of HR roles has to evolve. Therefore it is important to strengthen the HR roles as management positions and to increase the strategic and management competences of HR employees.