By: Amy Dozier on July 2nd, 2024

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How to Maximize the Impact of HR in 2024

Business Management & Strategy | Best Practices

If Human Resources was once a purely back-office function, that’s not true today.  89% of CEOs now say that HR leaders are vital strategic partners, which shows the changing role of Human Resources in the C-Suite. 

Businesses rely on HR more than ever for data, cultural insights, and a reliable supply of outstanding talent. HR professionals can have a transformative impact on their companies. Let’s take a look at the areas where HR really makes a difference in business success.

Kayla Bell and Amy Dozier of Helios HR discuss ways to maximize your HR impact


Where can HR leaders have a high impact?

HR involves a lot of day-to-day requests that relate to the employee experience, but HR doesn’t have to be purely reactive. There are many areas where HR can get involved to maximize opportunities, identify efficiency, and build a stable foundation for the future.

Strategic partnership and workforce planning

People strategy must align closely with the company’s long-term business objectives. For HR, this means identifying skill gaps, streamlining the hiring process, and building a reliable talent pipeline. HR can also provide data and analytics that can inform high-level strategic planning.

HR can also monitor external workforce trends, such as employment rates and compensation trends. This data can help refine your recruitment strategy and identify the risk of losing your best people to a higher-paying competitor.

1. Talent strategy

A compelling employer brand can help you find the best candidates, even when the recruitment market is tight. HR can help build this employer brand and cultivate a positive relationship with passive candidates.

HR can also work on ways to retain the brightest people on your current team. This can include recommendations for bonuses and other incentives, plus professional development programs for your next generation of leaders.

2. Employee experience and engagement

HR should lead the charge in creating a positive, inclusive work environment that fosters engagement, productivity, and loyalty. This includes personalizing the employee experience and using technology to monitor engagement.

If there are issues with the workplace culture, then HR can take action. This might involve DEI training, working to improve communication, or coaching leaders on having difficult conversations with their teams or navigate challenging employee situations.

3. Organizational agility and change management

Sometimes, your strategy might require a rapid pivot. It’s hard to realign everyone with the new goals, but HR can help. They can communicate change, organize training where needed, and identify skills gaps that might require additional hiring.

HR can also navigate through difficult transitions, such as M&A or reductions in force. These are challenging moments that can threaten your entire organizational culture. A good HR leader can manage these changes with empathy and compassion, easing the stress on the team.

4. Technology adoption and digital transformation

Digital transformation is about people, processes and technology. HR is perfectly placed to ensure a balance between all three. The HR team can build a team with the right skills mix, help document and formalize new processes, and support employees as they adjust to new technologies.

This is especially important as we face a wave of new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence. The HR team can help humans navigate the challenge of building a productive relationship with AI.

5. Compliance and risk mitigation

Compliance is a major risk factor for every business. Your strategy could be severely damaged if you break rules on things like hiring, discrimination, compensation, or handling employee data. A good HR team can help steer companies away from any regulatory dangers.

HR also plays a vital role in training managers in compliance matters. The HR team can monitor employees and ensure they’re up to date on core trainings, such as data protection, ethics, and anti-money laundering.

6. Employee well-being and mental health

With increased awareness of the importance of holistic well-being, HR must champion comprehensive wellness programs that address physical, mental, and financial health.

Well-being plays an enormously important role, as it reduces spending on health benefits, improves engagement and retention, and helps meet DEI goals. HR is perfectly placed to ensure that well-being is a core part of the organizational culture.

These are some of the strategically important areas where HR can make a difference. But what are the most urgent priorities right now?

5 Critical HR Priorities for the Workforce in 2024

1. Embrace AI and technology while maintaining the human touch

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is everywhere now, which creates two urgent HR problems. First, HR must help employees get to grips with the new technology. Next, HR must help to ensure that AI doesn’t remove the human touch from employee interactions.

Key actions:

  • Implement AI-powered tools for recruitment, onboarding, and employee self-service.
  • Develop clear AI policies to address ethical concerns and potential biases.
  • Train HR team members and employees on AI applications and their limitations.
  • Ensure that technology enhances rather than diminishes personal connections within the organization.
  • Look for ways to improve HR workflows with AI (for example, using analytics to improve hiring)

2. Adapt to evolving work models

The remote work debate continues, with many employers now using a hybrid mix of remote and on-site scheduling. HR can help make the most of flexible work arrangements that balance employee preferences with business needs.

Key actions:

  • Develop policies that support various work models (in-office, remote, hybrid, gig-workers, etc.).
  • Implement technologies that facilitate seamless collaboration across dispersed teams.
  • Train managers on effectively leading remote and hybrid teams.
  • Reassess performance management systems to ensure they're suitable for diverse work arrangements.
  • Foster a culture of trust and results-oriented work, rather than focusing on time spent at a desk.

3. Prioritizing employee well-being and mental health

Recent years have highlighted the critical importance of employee well-being. Meanwhile, the rising cost of health benefits demonstrates why employers need to focus on building a happy, healthy workplace. HR can take a proactive approach to supporting employees' physical, mental, and emotional health.

Key actions:

  • Implement comprehensive wellness programs that address various aspects of health.
  • Provide resources and support for mental health, including access to EAPs and counselling services.
  • Train managers to recognize signs of stress and burnout in their teams.
  • Promote work-life balance through flexible scheduling and time-off policies.
  • Regularly assess and improve the effectiveness of well-being initiatives.

4. Foster diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB)

DEIB remains an important focus area for organizations. HR must lead efforts to create truly inclusive workplaces where all employees feel valued and have equal opportunities to succeed. Employers are recognizing each employee has different needs, not just because of their race or gender, but because they come from different backgrounds and are in different stages of life. HR must lead efforts to create truly inclusive workplaces where all employees feel valued and have equal opportunities to succeed.

Key actions:

  • Conduct regular audits of hiring practices, promotion decisions, and pay equity.
  • Implement unconscious bias training for all employees, especially those involved in hiring and promotion decisions.
  • Establish employee resource groups and mentorship programs to support underrepresented groups.
  • Personalize the employee experience by providing programs that give employees options and flexibility, so their individual needs are met.
  • Regularly collect and analyze data on DEIB progress, adjusting strategies as needed.

5. Foster an agile workforce

As job roles evolve rapidly due to technological advancements and changing business needs, HR must spearhead efforts to ensure the workforce remains adaptable and skilled.

Key actions:

  • Focus on being intentional and value driven.
  • Develop personalized learning and development plans for employees.
  • Implement a learning management system that offers a wide range of training options, including microlearning and just-in-time learning.
  • Create a culture of continuous learning, where skills and skill development, not formal education and years of experience, is valued and rewarded.
  • Prioritize efficiency and responsiveness over set-in-stone routines.

As you plan for the remainder of the year, stay focused on the areas that will make the most impact to your business such as the technology adoption, evolving work models, employee well-being, inclusion and belonging, employee experience and engagement, and organizational agility. These are areas where HR can make a significant difference in driving success and growth for the business.

By partnering with an HR consulting firm, businesses can supplement their existing team or set themselves up for success by tapping into specialized expertise and resources. With the right guidance and support, businesses can ensure that their HR practices are aligned with their long-term objectives and are equipped to navigate the challenges and opportunities of the future. If you need additional guidance, schedule a no-obligation consultation with our HR team today.

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