Nicole Bello, Group Vice President, SMB and Channel, EMEA, UKG
HR teams play a critical role in the overall success of an organisation – transforming productivity and increasing competitive advantage through enhancing workplace culture and developing employees. HR’s role has always been pivotal, but it has been thrust into the limelight like never before as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. But, now that HR leaders have a seat at the executive table, it’s important that they align HR actions with overarching business objectives, proving HR’s true value to the wider business.
With this in mind, here are the key areas HR leaders need to focus on in order to maximise their teams business impact:
Focus on strategy, not tasks
Considering how HR teams can minimize transactional tasks – which are usually a huge drain on time and resources – to become more strategic can give leaders a major advantage when speaking the language of the C-suite.
Of course, transactional tasks such as managing, scanning, and filing employee documents are necessary, but the time required to complete them is typically disproportionate to the value they drive. Instead, when we look at strategic HR activities, these are what make HR a crucial partner to the business, rather than just another cog in the organisational machine. For example, building a great place to work, attracting and retaining top talent, and expanding rewards initiatives enhance overall workplace infrastructure.
You should therefore look to create the right balance between transactional and strategic HR, prioritising the activities that add value to overarching business objectives, and the bottom line. It is important to note that disconnected digital systems can be a barrier at this stage as leveraging technology is the best way to manage transactional tasks and create capacity for HR professionals.
Organisations leading the way here will have automated systems in place, and will utilise the power of data and analytics to manage one’s time and daily activities more efficiently.
Base your strategy on business objectives
In order to prove greater business value, you need to align your strategies with your organisation’s short and long-term objectives.
To achieve this, take a moment to pause, reflect, and ask yourselves what is at the heart of the business and what new doors can HR open. You must also speak to C-Suite executives and look at annual reports, industry trends, customer feedback, or new hires. Once you have this insight and data, you can then figure out how to stay in the loop on all of the above. Essentially, the transformative power of HR can lead to immeasurable benefits for organisations, and this begins with defining a clear strategy that aligns closely with the core business goals.
Build actions that work towards your strategy
Once you have your strategy in place that feeds into the overall business objectives, you then need to identify your areas of focus, and scope out your actions with precision. This can be broken down into three simple steps:
- Select the business goal that will make the biggest impact, and drive true value for the wider organisation
- Figure out how HR can contribute to this
- Action the specific HR activities to meet this goal, making sure to consider what today’s employees want and need
For example, if a top concern for staff is that their basic wellbeing requirements are not being met, HR can focus on strategic HR tasks such as creating new and improved wellbeing initiatives – catering to the needs of each and every employee. The bottom line here is that employee expectations are critical to the overall business strategy and organisation’s that focus their efforts will be better placed to cater to these needs.
Taking a boardroom approach
Once you have all of your planning in place, it’s important that you learn the language of leadership, and figure out how to communicate actions clearly to C-Suite executives. To avoid confusion, HR leaders must align their statements to what is most relevant to the business, avoid HR jargon, and translate HR actions into C-Suite language.
Doing your research, being succinct, and creating a line of sight in which HR drives business performance will also be critical when communicating with those at the top of the organisation.
Ultimately, HR’s voice at the executive table has never been louder, and this is a positive step in building businesses that put people at the heart of their operations. Now that HR has firmly earned this seat, these four steps will help to maintain it and prove the business value delivered through strategic HR activities.