By: Kim Moshlak on September 13th, 2013

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Is Your HR Department Strategic?

Total Rewards | Business Management & Strategy | Best Practices | Employee Relations | Talent Acquisition

At Helios, we are often asked to define (and provide) strategic HR to an organization in need of change. Strategic HR is a big "buzz" term that has been used in senior leadership circles for quite some time. It is widely known to be the future of HR, is talked about at every HR conference, and is what most executives tell us they want when we work with them. But what is it? How can you determine if your HR department is working strategically? What is Strategic HR?

Traditionally, HR departments work in a largely administrative environment, completing transactions such as hiring and onboarding employees, processing promotions and changes from part-time to full-time, managing performance review processes and the like. All of this work needs to occur and is a part of any strong HR department. Strategic HR differs from traditional HR in that the work is much more focused on the success of the business, and contributes to the mission, vision and values of the organization.

What is Strategic HR?

Strategic HR looks at the human capital of the business and intentionally aligns their talent with the mission, vision and values of the organization. The work includes, but is not limited to, helping to make determinations about areas such as assessing the current talent on the team to determine if the talent needed exists in the organization, developing managers to have the skills to move their employees in the direction of the organization and to attract and retain the best talent, and evaluating the progress of human capital to ensure the work supports the forward-direction of the organization.

Related reading: Grow Your Business with Strategic HR Outsourcing

How to Determine if your HR Department is Strategic

Here are a few questions to be used in assessing the direction of your HR department.

  1. Is your senior HR leader sought for direction when making a significant organizational change because he/she asks candid questions that cause you to consider your direction carefully?
  2. Does your organization handle change well? Do communications that are disseminated about change help your employees to manage the new direction successfully?
  3. Does your HR department follow the trends of the industry in which your organization works, and does he/she know the details of your business including who your competitors are?
  4. Does your performance management program include processes like 360 evaluations, individual development plans, and competency modeling?
  5. Do you evaluate your staff regularly with a tool such as a 9-box grid which identifies your high potential employees in determining if you have the talent you need to move your organization forward? And if so, are you developing (or perhaps considering replacing) the talent that is not helping your organization?
  6. Do you have conversations with HR regarding who is not only capable in your organization, but who is willing to do the job you need them to accomplish?
  7. Is your rewards and recognition system aligned with the mission and vision of the organization?
  8. Does your HR department help to measure the success of the organization by offering benchmarking, balanced scorecards, surveys and/or other measurement tools?
  9. Is your organization passionate about Corporate Social Responsibility?

Strategic HR is more than just processing paperwork and helping employees with their benefits. It is a powerful management method that permits alignment of the human capital talent and the organization's direction to ensure the success of both.