HR in the Driver’s Seat: Moving Human Resources from Support to Strategy

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How do most businesses think about human resources functions? Do they see it as central to their strategic planning? When an organization’s leadership team sits down to set strategy and make business decisions, does HR have a seat at the table?

In most cases, the answer is no. Human Resources is pegged as an administrative support function. It means payroll and paperwork and little else. Why is this? It is partly because compliance at the state and federal level is an ever-changing landscape. With regulations constantly evolving and multiplying, much of an HR team’s energy and resources must be dedicated to regulatory compliance. There continues to be an archaic view that HR has a limited operations-only role.

At a time when labor is the largest cost for businesses, and attracting, retaining and engaging top talent is one of the greatest challenges faced by companies, why isn’t human resources seen as a strategic resource and partner? Because the truth is that business success is rooted in efficient, empathetic HR service delivery.

So how should organizations be thinking about HR and what are some ways to go about incorporating it into strategic leadership and planning?

  • First, technology and data do matter. Like other business areas, HR must be forward-thinking in its use of technology to streamline cumbersome HR processes and provide data in real-time. This data must be used to provide employee insights.
  • HR is often seen as reactive rather than proactive. It’s the department that tells you how you can’t do something rather than how you can. Instead, HR needs to be solutions-oriented and lose its reputation as the policy enforcement department.
  • Consider centralizing HR functions. If you have everything in one place—payroll, worker’s compensation, benefits, risk management—then you can more easily see the big picture and make business decisions.
  • Workplace culture is not just for show. The organization’s leadership must understand workplace culture, know how to describe it, and live it.

For many small and medium-sized businesses, outsourcing HR functions makes this transition easier and is often more cost effective. It takes daily compliance concerns off the table while giving you access to a team of experts who are trained in HR functions and leveraging analytics for workforce insights. In addition, these teams have experience in customizing HR service delivery to meet business needs.

We know that business success is tied to the best use of our resources, and human capital is the greatest of our resources. Making HR part of strategic business planning leads to better decision-making. This means it is time to move HR from a supporting role and give it a front seat.

 

About the Author

Ed Whalley in the Chief Financial Officer at Anthros, Inc.