HR Directors Earn Top Salaries

Last Updated Jun 5, 2008 12:04 PM EDT

The UK's HR directors are the most highly paid in the world, according to Management Today's global salary survey. (Skip to the end if you just want to check out what everyone gets paid.)

British HR directors take home £327,300 a year -- over £140,000 more than a finance director. But does this mean we value our 'people people' any more than other nations?

The report quotes Virginia Merritt at Stanton Morris, who claims the UK HR market is "one of the most advanced in the world", with talent management and organisational development the main focal points.

But there's also a telling comment from entrepreneur and Channel 4 chairman Luke Johnson, who sees HR as a 'necessary evil' but hardly the most valuable contributor to business.

His comment raises a familiar complaint: boards aren't taking advantage of the strategic talents HR people could bring to the business.

Professor Edward Lawler III argues in favour of greater HR involvement in the big-picture and suggests three key areas where HR people could apply their under-used talents.

  1. Improve leadership -- helping business leaders to improve communication skills, motivate people, link goals to rewards and sharpen their employee evaluation methods.
  2. Informing the board -- assessing whether the organisation has the right people for a new project. Is the organisational design working? Does the company have a succession plan?
  3. Assessing the workforce -- matching individual skills and performance with the company's needs.
As two of Dr Lawler's suggestions require that directors submit to some potentially unflattering scrutiny, is it possible the boardroom door is locked to HR from the inside?

And does it matter? Only if your company trots out the 'people are our greatest asset' mantra, with nothing to substantiate it.

Recruitment firm Perriam & Everett's research reveals that recruiters themselves see a 'disconnect' between the values an organisation puts about when it's hiring, and the real way in which people are managed. And this is a survey about recruitment firms. If they can't get it right, who can?

But here's what you really want to know...

The best and the worst salaries:
CEO US £1,486,990
India £103,820

FD US £342, 284
China £49,419

HR director UK £327,300
India £44,030

Marketing director US £202,234
India £48,718

Sales executive Germany £40,077
India £3,633

IT manager UK £73,958
India £9,000