Whom Should HR Report To?

Over the years, I have been fortunate to report to a variety of functions including the CEO, VP of HR, HR Director, and HR Managers.

When I apply to new jobs, I am always curious to know who the hiring manager is. I take pause if the hiring manager works in finance. I would be concerned about a couple of potential red flags in this situation.

The primary role of HR is to support the business by recruiting, retaining, and developing the best employees. Well, this costs money. In order to attract top talent, you may have to pay higher salaries and offer a better benefits package than your competitors. You will have to spend money on training and development programs to help retain employees and keep them challenged. You may need to offer education reimbursement programs, ongoing seminars, etc. If the decision maker for additional employee programs also is accountable for the budget, employee-friendly programs may get cut because the benefits don’t necessarily translate to hard dollar profits on a spreadsheet.

It depends on the company structure who HR reports to and this varies across companies. My best experience was when I reported to the CEO. In this role, I had ready access to top management and I was viewed as a part of the leadership team. I was included in regular meetings with all the other decision makers and was able to truly make an impact. I felt in this situation that the culture was one that valued HR as an equal.

The farther HR is in reporting structure from the top, unfortunately the less of a voice they have. Ideally, the head of HR should report directly to the CEO.

What do you think? In what reporting structure have you been most successful?