How do you put HR at the heart of the business?
It’s always sobering to discover that a colleague sees something quite differently from you. Especially when the something is your role in the company. So I was hit hard by the latest 20 Minute Master Class from SuccessFactors: “Future priorities for HR: how can you make sure you’re on track”, which is based on a recent CIPD HR Outlook survey.
CIPD had asked HR and non-HR business leaders about corporate priorities and the role of HR and, for a couple of slides, everything was reassuring. Everyone seemed to agree that in the current economic conditions companies were concentrating on short-term issues, such as cost management, productivity and customer focus.
Looking ahead a couple of years, the consensus remained. Yes, HR people were naturally more concerned with longer-term capabilities, but by and large they were talking the same language as their colleagues.
However, when we got to HR’s involvement in strategy, things got a lot more interesting – and uncomfortable. While HR leaders were convinced they were integral to setting, communicating and executing business strategy, non-HR leaders were much less sure. In fact, more than a third of them either said that senior HR people had no involvement in strategy or didn’t know whether they did or not. The implication was that they didn’t really care.
This rang several alarm bells, so it was good to see that the second half of the Masterclass focused on six key messages we can all take from the research to help put HR at the heart of business strategy.
These included raising our visibility and impact by demonstrating the value we bring. We must use evidence and demonstrate the business benefits of HR initiatives. Above all, we need to embrace data and use it not just to illustrate trends, but to initiate change.
I learned that HR people almost always have broad business experience from outside the HR function. They also have a unique understanding of the long-term value of a company’s people. That’s why it’s time to really expose the contribution we can make to business transformation. In tough economic times, businesses are more receptive than ever to creative ideas. But to make sure ours are heard and acted on, we need to present an informed and convincing business case.