When you think of HR, do you tend to think of people administering payroll and benefits, processing employee paperwork and planning training and engagement activities?
If so, you may want to think again.
Many corporate human resources departments evolved from being administrators providing those traditional services to being involved in strategic HR management.
In a strategic role, HR can be a fully engaged partner, helping executives formulate long-term strategic plans for maximizing the value of the company's employees.
Involving HR in a strategic role in your company is especially important in this day and age. Think about all the major human resources issues that are surfacing today that can have an impact on the success of your business.
You may want to consider letting your HR department play a strategic role in these three areas.
1. Manage the effects of the “Me Too" movement on the workplace environment.
The “Me Too" movement is an initiative against workplace harassment that, while founded in 2006 by activist Tarana Burke, spread virally in 2017 as a hashtag on social media. Since then, there's been a tsunami of media coverage on the topic.
Workplace harassment issues can affect employee morale, drive out your best talent and erode the culture you worked hard to establish. They can also have legal repercussions.
All of this can hurt your people and your bottom line.
Maintaining a respectful workplace is one of the areas where a HR professional may play an invaluable role. For example, they can:
- help to educate staff on what constitutes misconduct in the workplace,
- raise awareness of the laws governing workplace harassment,
- provide training to help staff and others entering the workplace feel safe,
- establish procedures for handling issues of workplace harassment if they occur,
- be a communication conduit with senior management on any issues they need to address before situations escalate and
- help to keep your company's reputation safe.
2. Play a strategic role in developing your brand as a great place to work.
Nowadays being branded as a great place to work may significantly affect your business growth and success. This type of branding can help you in your quest to build a workforce of top-tier employees. These top employees typically have many options, so a credible employer brand may help you stand out among your competitors looking for the same talent.
Being chosen as a great place to work for can have an impact on employee retention. In 2016, Great Place to Work® research involving more than 230,000 employees at 620 organizations reveals that millennials who feel they're working at a great workplace are “25 times more likely to plan a long-term future at their workplace."
The research also found employees of all ages are looking for similar things in a great workplace, namely, a company they're proud to work for, connections with their colleagues and honest, ethical leaders.
A HR professional may help you position your company as a place people want to work for. They may be an instrumental part of creating the conditions that may help you be an employer of choice. These include:
- hiring and retaining top-notch candidates,
- mentoring employees,
- empowering individuals to manage their career paths,
- helping talented employees acquire valuable experiences on the job,
- establishing programs for physical and mental well-being and
- helping create a positive work environment.
A human resources professional who's invited to play a strategic role can help you monitor your reputation as an employer through a variety of means such as engagement with the human resources community, new hire surveys at different milestones, employee opinion surveys and informal employee discussions to name a few.
3. Raise awareness of diversity and inclusion.
Today diversity and inclusion covers not only long-established categories such as age, gender and race, but also gender identity, sexual orientation and veteran or military status. Some companies have even started to look at neurodiversity by hiring people on the autism spectrum.
Research shows that diversity improves a company's financial returns. In 2018, McKinsey & Company published a research report called Delivering Through Diversity. (The researchers culled data from 1,007 companies covering 12 countries globally.)
The report reveals that “companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 21 percent more likely to experience above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile." For ethnic and cultural diversity, there was a 33 percent likelihood of increased profitability.
How can HR professionals help you build an inclusive culture for the mosaic of employees that enrich a workplace? By...
- monitoring diversity levels in your company and making appropriate recommendations.
- becoming advocates for diversity.
- sourcing the necessary information to create a diversity and inclusion program.
- playing an important role in implementation, from sourcing, screening and providing onboarding and support.
- helping you demonstrate your commitment to building a workplace that benefits a broad spectrum of humanity.
If you're a small business that hasn't included HR as part of its core functions, or if you're a company that confines HR to traditional administrative duties, consider the value that a strategic partnership may bring to your company. Inviting human resources to the table as a strategic partner may help strengthen your brand and make your company shine.
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