Strategic human resources. An oxymoron perhaps? What does "strategic HR" really mean?
If you talk to HR professionals about business strategy, you may hear things like "having a seat at the table," "being a trusted advisor" or "being included in key business initiatives." But HR pros can play more than just an advisory role — they should be business leaders. What other overhead department has such a significant opportunity to drive business results by creating a framework for a high performing workforce?
Follow my logic: Nothing is accomplished in business without active performance of the workforce. A highly skilled and focused workforce can have a significant impact on the success of the organization, but the work performed and skills exercises must be directly aligned to the business strategy and objectives, otherwise time and money are wasted. In order to ensure an aligned workforce, there needs to be an infrastructure that coordinates human behavior with the company mission.
HR has the opportunity to develop this infrastructure and create an aligned workforce. That's not just grabbing a seat at the table; it's impacting the bottom line. Here are five steps for HR leaders to make the move from an overhead department to a strategic leadership department.
Study Your Organization
Read your annual report carefully. Review every financial report you can get your hands on, both at the organizational and departmental level. Brainstorm with your HR team, particularly those embedded in operations, and look for cases of human behavior obstructing business success.
For example, let's say you review the financials for one of your struggling business units that is losing market share to a competitor. Your HR team comes together to discuss the business unit: Recruiting reports they have had to fill the same manager position three times in the past 18 months. Compensation says the director insists on paying below market. The employee satisfaction scores indicate unrest in the workforce and explain the low retention rate.
Frame the Business Opportunity
After identifying a problem, look for the opportunity. In our example case, the opportunity is to help the business unit leader improve market share.
Once you have identified an opportunity, outline the precise human behavior issues that you see as obstacles to achieving this goal. For instance, point to the low employee engagement levels in the department and the sources — bad leadership and below market rate payment.
Make Your Case
Next, provide business leaders with actionable steps to take to address these obstacles, and explain how your proposal, if implemented, will make a significant positive contribution to revenue, income, market share or expense.
For example, explain how increasing employee satisfaction can subsequently increase productivity. To increase satisfaction, you need to re-evaluate your compensation strategy, and pay above market rate for top talent.
Make sure you clearly detail the commitment needed for your proposal to achieve the desired result.
Go for It
After you receive commitment, implement carefully. Provide regular progress reports, and let those who made the commitment know when commitments are not honored.
In our sample case, you should work closely with the struggling director on compensation strategy. Discuss the current pay strategy and offer a new approach, based on employee feedback and performance.
It is critical to involve key stakeholders in your process. Without regular updates and check-ins, your proposal may fail.
Shift the Paradigm
After the project is completed, you have a powerful opportunity to demonstrate what "strategic HR" can be — a powerful resource to drive business results.
Let's say you implement the new compensation strategy. Continue following up on the impact of the new strategy, and present leadership with concrete results, such as increased productivity and rising market share. Analytics and data-driven reports focused on business results — revenue, income, market share or expenses — demonstrate your ability to impact the bottom line.
By shifting the focus of HR from a reactive to a proactive department, you will not only drive organizational success, but also transform the reputation of strategic HR.
Want to keep learning? Explore our products, customer stories, and the latest industry insights.
Empowering Employees by Learning & Development at Amplifon
Learning and development strategies must continue to evolve in the ever-changing world of work. Training and development provide employees with a softer landing into change, and the introduction of digital learning and development platforms allowed employees a smoother transition into a new style of work. Amplifon created a learning and development strategy that is hyper-personalised and skills-focused, allowing their people and their entire organisations to become more agile and adaptable. Amplifon invested not only in learning and development content but also in strengthening the global network and collaboration across geographies and functions, to encourage an equal sense of belonging across the entire organisation. Amplifon created a learning and development strategy that is hyper-personalised and skills-focused, allowing their people and their entire organisations to become more agile and adaptable. Amplifon invested not only in learning and development content but also in strengthening the global network and collaboration across geographies and functions, to encourage an equal sense of belonging across the entire organisation.
Howdens shares how they grew learning by over 500% in one year
Charlene Jackson, HR & Payroll Systems Lead, shares how Howdens moved from traditional classroom based training, to grow learning by over 500% in just one year through the introduction of a simple, modern user experience, accessible from any device.
4 tips to managing diversity and gender equality in your company
If you want to generate success in your company and work in a harmonious environment, then you need to consider each and every one of your employees, get to know their interests, and offer them the best treatment and commitment. However, one of the most important principles that should be commonplace in every organisation is the equal treatment of employees (regardless of gender, race or religion). Gender, for example, should not be a factor that influences how we treat our workforce. Having a gender equality policy shows employees that they are valued and that the company is serious about ending discrimination. Having a fair remuneration policy that is not distinguished by the employee’s gender, but by their job position and their development within the company is an important step towards gender quality too. Opt for a gender-diverse workforce Having more gender diversity in a company is very positive and not just for the company’s own benefit. In fact, the UK could boost its GDP by 9% if the female employment rates matched with Sweden’s for instance. The challenge for HR departments is to successfully and strategically find and enrol more women in their business. It could solve a real problem, breaking barriers of gender discrimination in the workplace and promoting equality within the company. Equality between your workers is essential It is important to not only review the salaries of your employees, but also other professional aspects such as career plans and promotions, ensuring that there are equal opportunities for both men and women. Equality will undoubtedly be a motivational element for employees, regardless of their gender, as having clear objectives is a contributing factor in maintaining employees’ interest levels Strike a balance between work life and family life Fostering harmony between work and family life is key to attracting and retaining talent. It can contribute to the company culture, and to a positive attitude and collaboration amongst employees. Another important point is not to make sweeping generalisations about different genders, and instead to consider the specifics on a case by case basis. Employees need to see that their family life is considered and respected. They will appreciate this and it will likely improve company loyalty in the long run. HR must ensure gender equality in their company HR’s role is essential in managing and promoting gender diversity within the business. They must ensure that the motivation and commitment of their employees is strengthened, which, in turn, strengthens the workforce overall and benefits the entire company.