HR in the boardroom: four tips for maximising HR’s business impact
While the power of HR has undoubtedly been pushed to the fore over the past year, many HR professionals often fall short in delivering the effective support and competitive advantages needed to drive true business value.
Regardless of size, budget or industry, the reality is that HR teams typically struggle to translate HR actions into c-suite language. Alongside this, while HR’s contribution to managing and maintaining employees is unmatched, the team can only become a strategic partner to the organisation with full alignment to overarching business goals. Identifying these objectives and creating a line of sight in which HR drives business performance is becoming increasingly important.
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With this in mind, below are my top tips to maximise HR’s business impact – diving deeper into how HR professionals can optimise their performance and contribute real value to the wider business.
Turn transactional activities into strategic projects
The first stage considers the time allocated to transactional and strategic HR. For example, while transactional tasks such as managing routine employee requests are necessary, the time required to complete them is disproportionate to the value they drive. In turn, this time constraint is affecting HR professionals’ capacity to perform strategic HR activities – work that directly impacts people.
Managers must therefore create a balance between transactional and strategic HR, prioritising the activities that contribute directly to an organisation’s 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 create capacity. Those who are ahead of the innovation curve will have automated systems in place, enabling HR to become a strategic partner to the business.
Align with business objectives
For HR leaders looking to optimise their performance, they must take the time to consider the organisation’s short- and long-term objectives. For example, it is common for HR professionals to focus on day-to-day tasks without stopping to consider the goals of the wider business. In doing so, by failing to align HR actions with broader corporate strategies, HR teams will fall short of achieving maximum business value from their efforts.
To combat this, HR leaders must stop and ask themselves what is at the heart of the business and what new doors can HR open. They must also speak to c-suite executives and look at annual reports, industry trends, customer feedback, or new hires. HR must then figure out how to stay in the loop on all of the above.
Identify your areas of focus and scope out your actions
At this stage, HR professionals must narrow down what matters most to the business. This can be broken down into three steps. First, select the business goal that will make the biggest impact. Second, figure out how HR can contribute to this. And third, action the specific HR activities to meet this goal, making sure to consider what today’s employees want.
For example, if staff feel their wellbeing needs are not being met, HR can focus on strategic HR tasks – catering to the needs of each and every employee. The bottom line here is that employee expectations are critical to the overall business strategy.
Translate HR actions into c-suite language
And finally, HR professionals must figure out how to communicate their actions clearly to the organisation's leadership. For example, c-suite executives often speak a lingo that is specific to their roles. To do this successfully, HR leaders must align their statements to what is most relevant to the business and translate HR actions into c-suite language. Ensuring HR is not left out of the boardroom will mean the difference between sinking and swimming.
These four tips send a clear message that the HR team can become a powerful strategic partner to the organisation. HR leaders simply need to create capacity for strategic HR tasks, align their actions with broader corporate strategies, and communicate effectively with c-suite executives.
Nicole Bello is group vice president, SMB and Channel, EMEA at UKG