Human Resources, Onboarding

HR Is Now a Strategic Partner. Are You Ready to Deliver?

by Linda Itskovitz

HR isn’t just about administration, compliance, and onboarding anymore. Between training, metrics, and employee engagement, the field has evolved into a strategic business role within the organization. Linda Itskovitz, vice president of marketing for GuideSpark, has tips for delivering strategic HR.

The HR function has undergone an enormous shift in the past few decades, moving beyond the process-heavy, tactical aspects to becoming a strategic partner in tune with overall company goals and priorities. From understanding the organization’s talent needs to finding the personnel and providing the support and training to help them excel, HR has largely been able to step up to the plate. But many of today’s chief human resource officers believe HR still hasn’t achieved its true potential in terms of honing the brand image and making an even greater impact on the health and growth of a company.

This need to become more strategic is highlighted in a survey by Information Services Group and the HRO Today Services and Technology Association, in which 32% of respondents cited strategic alignment with the business as the leading area of improvement for 2016—more so than talent acquisition and retention or delivering on cost reduction targets. And the best way for HR to step up is by finding the people solutions that will drive business forward and spur innovation.

Why HR Must Be a Strategic Partner

While HR will still be expected to maintain its focus on the traditional areas, the function is increasingly looked on for more important drivers—providing sound leadership, delivering big-picture thinking, and bringing its unique people-focused voice and perspective to respond to future challenges and opportunities.

But how ready are today’s HR organizations to step up to meet these new expectations? Bersin by Deloitte’s 2015 Global Human Capital Trends report suggests much progress needs to be made; only 6% of HR executives feel fully ready to address their leadership issues. And, in addition to the new demands put on HR are new challenges—from contending with the rapid pace of technology; to engaging multiple generations of workers; and facing an increasingly diverse, remote, and globalized workforce.

In order to succeed in this difficult environment, HR will have to become better, creative problem solvers and consensus builders. They must also take a hard look at the current structures, mandates, and programs to determine what to keep, what to discard, and what to improve on to deliver greater value to all stakeholders. With a clear understanding of company goals and core values, HR can deliver on its promise and be that strategic partner.

10 Ways HR Can Be More Strategic

While most HR leaders understand the pressing need to become a strategic partner aligned to organizational priorities, providing the leadership required can be easier said than done. So, how can HR be more strategic? Consider the following steps:

  1. Partner with the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). The company’s brand isn’t just about external perception; how employees themselves perceive the company is just as important. By partnering with the CMO to design and refine the brand, HR leaders can help ensure a powerful, consistent, and singular message to all audiences.
  2. Tap into people analytics. The vast amount of data created in the workplace each day can be overwhelming, but leveraging this information provides HR with the insight to improve the quality, efficiency, and return on investment (ROI) of each stage in the employee life cycle. Whether identifying the best candidates or predicting who is likely to leave, HR can make more meaningful and more informed decisions.
  3. Prevent and break down silos. Having key processes separated into different silos leads to fragmentation, duplication, and poor communication. As such, HR must strive to keep talent management activities integrated; rather than leaving onboarding to each department and treating it as a brief and preparatory exercise, it should encompass deeper employee learning and understanding to set them up for long-term success.

In tomorrow’s Advisor, Itskovitz presents the final seven ways HR can be more strategic, along with final thoughts on how to achieve more strategic HR.