“Strategic HR”. It’s a buzzword in the HR industry that has been around for some time and I anticipate it will be around for a while longer. This concept of strategic HR is floated frequently and it’s quite possible that like many other business owners, you find yourself asking “what is strategic HR and how do I know if my business is ready for it?”
What is Strategic HR?
A strategic HR department is one that has evolved beyond the traditional approach of solely transactional and operational support of the employee life cycle (recruiting and onboarding, performance management, employee relations, benefits, separations, etc.). Strategic HR is aligned with senior management to execute on the overall mission, vision and goals of an organization, with a keen focus on people and performance. In doing so, the HR department has integrated the operational components of the employee life cycle with the organization’s initiatives. The result is a fully aligned approach for talent management that takes the HR function beyond the day to day of a status quo human resources department to help make an impact on the business bottom line.
Strategic HR programs are unique by nature and will vary based on business needs, mission, values, culture, and overall strategy for growth, renewal, maintenance – whatever phase of the business lifecycle they are in.
Strategic HR Supports:
- Change Management – offering solid recommendations and informed insights into the impact change will have in your organization and how employees may respond as helping to develop a detailed plan for execution including managing communications, employee reactions, and resistance.
- Workforce Planning & Development – assisting leadership in identifying the talent needed to advance your business goals by providing skill gap analysis and a roadmap to growing employees individually and identifying external resources you may need.
- Engagement & Communication – developing programs and strategies designed to engage employees in a way that makes them excited about their role in your organizations success and supporting that momentum through strong organizational communication.
- Business Planning Alignment – supporting your business planning initiatives with key insights around compliance and expert considerations on the impact of staffing decisions, restructuring and expanding into states with employment laws that differ from your current practices, etc.
By augmenting the human capital program businesses see increases in engagement and retention of employees who help drive the overall mission of the organization. After all, without people how would your business reach its goals?
How to Know if Your Business Needs Strategic HR
Now that you have a basic understanding of the concept of a strategic HR department it’s time to determine if you’re ready to make the jump; and it is a jump. Focusing on the people within your organization is an investment that will cost your business time and money. It is important to first assess your readiness for transition or determine what you may need to do to get your business ready.
Four Questions to Ask Yourself to Determine if You Are Ready For Strategic HR
Below are four questions to ask yourself to help determine if you may be ready to elevate your HR department to a strategic level:
- Is the foundation of your HR department strong? This means you have the operational components described above functioning in a way that keeps the day to day moving smoothly.
- Do you have the full support of the leadership team to invest in the efforts of elevating your HR function? This means your leadership team is ready to commit executive time and energy to your human resource initiatives and to champion these efforts.
- Is there is a willingness to accept that significant changes may have to occur within your business to elevate your HR function? This may mean changes in staffing, policy and/or processes.
- Are you prepared for your human resources function to integrate itself with other departments of your organization that have typically not been involved with HR in the past? This means involving the human resources function with business initiatives to elevate your overall business strategy.
With this information in mind, you are now more equipped to determine if your business is ready to invest in the development of a strategic HR function. Perhaps you’re close, and need to make small adjustments to your tactical and operational HR processes or work to ensure you have full executive buy-in for this next step in managing the people of you organization. No matter where you are as an organization, it is critical to reflect on where you are today so you can best decide how you are going to move forward.
Think Your HR Department May Already Be Strategic?
Check out my colleague, Kim Moshlak’s, article “Is your HR Department Strategic?” which further elaborates on the concept of what a strategic HR department looks like, how to tell if you have the right people on your team to take you there, and how a strategic HR function supports a business.