It’s now or never: transforming HR into a strategic partner

3 March 2021 - Reading time: 5 Minutes

International HR

Over the last decade, we have been witnessing a shift in HR – and the current pandemic crisis is accelerating the trends. With issues and topics more polarising with every passing day, it is HR professionals that will be in the spotlight – now more than ever. Grasp this opportunity to embrace HR’s role as strategic partner and play an essential part in becoming an organisation of the future

Doing business: a lot more than just generating profit

According to a recent survey distributed to 60 CHROs by CRF Research in 2020, 76% indicate that their organisation’s business model has changed on a fundamental or fairly significant level in the last five years. That’s an incredibly rapid and widespread shift.

76% of CHROs say that their business model is significantly different than 5 years ago.


In the past, doing business was mainly about attracting customers. Today, in addition to delivering business value and successfully innovating, businesses must maintain existing margins and respond to the needs of a broadening pool of stakeholders. That’s a lot like performing repairs on a car while it’s barrelling at high speed along the motorway!

Companies have so many balls in the air nowadays that statements of purpose in cutting-edge annual reports contain a huge number of elements, from delivering value to customers and stakeholders, developing their people, ensuring ethical business deals with vetted partners, growing their communities, committing to sustainability and more.

Doing business today is a lot like repairing a car while it’s barrelling forward at high speed.

On top of all of that – businesses have to prove that they are delivering on their purpose by being transparent about their efforts toward all stakeholders.

How HR empowers the organisation of the future

Needless to say, keeping all of these balls in the air during normal times is a special challenge – not to mention during global pandemics, hotly contested elections and the other unusual circumstances that define our world today! This is where an empowered HR department is an invaluable strategic resource.

In the organisation of the future, the administrative tasks that take up so much time in outdated businesses are automated by digital tools. This frees up the department to become a strategic partner with one overarching goal: to enable the business to execute its strategic roadmap. It does so in a number of ways, including:

  • Developing a unique corporate culture that enables transformation and differentiates the organisation from the competition.
  • Creating a leadership strategy aligned with corporate strategy to develop and empower the people that lead the company, now and in the future.
  • Facilitate and measure performance, efficiency and productivity.
  • Developing the capabilities needed for innovation and the execution of new business models and strategies.
  • Giving the organisation meaning by ensuring that work offers purpose, plenty of development opportunities and rewards to employees.
  • Ensuring strong communication at all levels and between all colleagues, fostering engagement, involvement and effectiveness.

Long story short: HR must be included at the core of business decision-making in order to be able to carry out this multifaceted mission.

How HR contributes powerfully to business strategy

As a strategic partner, the HR department offers some game-changing insights, perspectives and connections with the legs and arms of the business that no other department can. Based on the results of the survey, company leaders must ensure that HR is:

Involved up front in strategy discussions vs. acting as a subject matter expert.

  • Proactively invited to participate in the development of business strategy.
  • Present and available to boost the organisation’s ability to connect external business thinking with internal conversations
  • Actively advocating for customers during strategy talks
  • Preventing the organisation from making strategic choices that aren’t aligned with its culture.

Present talent-related opportunities to the table – including acquisitions – and define strategic opportunities such as the redeployment of people affected by automation, or the introduction of new forms of employment.

Bringing the outside in – and the inside up

In fact, HR is well poised to bring the outside in – after all, HR personnel are much more connected to trends related to the wider – social, technological, economic, political – environment in which the organisation operates.
From an inside-up perspective, HR is one of the few departments with the innate ability to bridge siloes, ensuring better links between business functions and fostering a more cohesive organisation as a whole.

Eager for more insights into the strategic role of HR and how it is essential to an organisation’s success in “the new normal”? Stay tuned for more in this series!

 

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