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Business leaders need to get back to basics and focus on their people strategies

The HR profession has certainly taken huge strides forward over the past few decades, shifting from what was once referred to as ‘personnel’ and perceived as simply processing sickness absence and annual leave requests. 

However, fast forward to current times and HR is now plying its trade at the very top level. It’s now normal to find the HR department having a presence in boardrooms, having an influential say and playing an integral part in the key business decision-making processes.

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Don’t neglect talent

Equality, diversity and inclusion and wellness and wellbeing have been top of the HR agenda – and rightly so as we operate in a fast-paced, ever-changing world still in post recovery from the global pandemic.

However, the focus on these particular areas has resulted in neglect on talent management and succession planning, in turn contributing to a high turnover of employees. One of the main reasons for the so-called great resignation beginning in early 2021 in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic was due to limited opportunities in career development. 

Over the course of the past couple of years we have witnessed the tables turn in terms of recruitment and a shift to a candidate-driven market to the extent of the applicant questioning the perspective employer at interview stage along the lines of ‘what is on offer for me and why should I choose you over other employers?’. 


One of the priorities for candidates is being offered some assurances that they will be invested in by way of skills and development

Now, I am not underestimating the importance of wellness and wellbeing, but far too many employers are wanting to keep up with the latest trends which can sometimes be merely tick-box exercises, leaving them to take their eye off the ball when they should be putting real investment into their employees. Let’s not forget an organisation’s main asset is its people.

Over my 17 years in HR – working across a number of sectors – I have seen high-potential individuals resign and move onto pastures new more times than I can remember, with one of the main reasons being due to the lack of development and other opportunities available to them. There is nothing more soul destroying for an HR professional to hear than that an employee feels no other option but to move on in order to develop their career elsewhere.

Different strokes

Not all employees necessarily seek to develop and progress, but at the same time many of Generation Z do, and deem this an important factor when deciding on a job offer

Failure to meet this requirement can result in ultimately losing them within two years of initial appointment and the employer faced with a recruitment headache in the shape of time and resources, cost per hire and of course potentially damaged reputation as an employer which has failed in investing in its people.

Of course the ‘hot topics’ should be considered and implemented, but not to the detriment of talent management and succession planning, which are key to an organisation’s success. It is now more important than ever that business leaders, with the support and guidance of HR, need to get back to basics and focus on their people strategies. 

Phil Rimmer is head of HR at law firm Slater Heelis