I can't tell you how many times I've heard HR professionals tell me, "I went into HR because I'm a people person." It makes sense, since one of the roles that HR professionals play is advocating for employees. But it's not their only role—it's also up to HR teams to advocate for organizations.
This doesn't mean that the best interests of the two sides are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, they must be aligned to ensure business success. To advocate for employees means formulating specific organizational commitments, and ensuring that companies honor those commitments to their workers. Meanwhile, advocating for an organization means setting clear expectations for employees, and ensuring that those expectations are met or exceeded.
How can HR make sure that both sides deliver? Follow this four-step approach to help the two parties see eye-to-eye.
1)Assess the Baseline Situation
First, set a baseline by assessing how effectively business objectives are currently aligned with employee expectations. Are organizational values being embodied consistently? If not, where is the disconnect? Use turnover data as well as data from performance assessments, employee surveys and business financials to better understand where each side stands.
2) Zero in on Problem Areas
When looking at employee surveys, identify problems that appear in patterns. If communication is a key organizational value, yet responses from a number of employees in a specific department point to communication challenges, then a broader problem exists.
Take a deeper dive into that department's business. How are the financials? Is turnover high? What does employee performance look like? How is the unit leader rated? Develop an educated hypothesis that explains what may be going on, and get ready to share it with business leaders.
3) Present Your Findings from a Business Angle
Inform business leaders of the challenge you've identified on the employee side, and demonstrate how solving the problem could help drive revenue, drive sales, reduce expenses or accomplish another business goal. Be ready to offer a number of potential solutions and ideas for how to execute them.
4)Don't Jump the Gun
It's tempting to start solving a problem as soon as you've identified it, but don't rush. Once you've given business leaders several options for dealing with an employee challenge, let them decide the best way to proceed. You've armed them with the advantages and risks associated with each option—now leave it up to them. Better to have commitment from leadership, than to have a solution fail due to poor execution.
Following this process aligns words with actions, making HR the advocate for both the employee and the business. Employees benefit because the organization is delivering what it promised to, and the organization thrives because employees are less frustrated, and more focused on performance.