The Value of HR as a Strategic Partner

Are You Utilizing HR as a Strategic Partner? Here’s Why You Should

Years ago, human resources was viewed as purely administrative, with limited influence on the future or success of the company as a whole. While getting the foundational policies and processes established is important, companies that want to differentiate themselves from their competition and win in their respective markets must transition their HR into a strategic partner.

When HR is a strategic partner, they have the ability to impact the company’s key goals and objectives by focusing on the following five key areas: Talent Acquisition, Employee Development, Succession Planning, Technology and Culture. Identifying the needs and investing the resources required to make each of these areas a core strength for the company will result in superior results and make you an employer of choice in the marketplace.   

Benefits of HR as a Strategic Partner

1. Talent Acquisition

Any business, from a startup to an established company, knows the complexities of talent acquisition all too well. Building a talent pipeline and developing capability fast enough to achieve your goals or support transformation is no easy task — especially when HR is a step or two removed from the strategy. 

To successfully source and acquire talent, HR needs to understand the vision and goals of the company, as well as determine what roles are going to be needed and when. Most importantly, what skills, knowledge, and abilities are desired in addition to what can be done now to start identifying and attracting those individuals so that you are ready when the positions are approved.

In order to establish HR as a strategic partner and identify and attract top-tier talent, they must:

  • Understand the details behind the company’s vision 
  • Be involved in identifying and defining the current and future goals
  • Partner with Senior Leadership in the development of your candidate profile
  • Design and deliver a strategy for attracting and retaining key talent

Without following through on the above tasks, you’re more likely to acquire talent that is a poor fit for your company, the position, and your culture. 

Related: Why A Healthy Workplace Is Vital To Employee Success

2. High-Potential Employee Development

With an intense focus on meeting goals, investing in the employees who will get you there is often overlooked. While 91% of businesses believe high-potential employees (HiPos) are twice as valuable as their peers, 70% of organizations lack confidence in their pipeline of future leaders. Strategic HR leaders can overcome this large gap by identifying the competencies and areas of growth required to meet the company’s short and long term goals.

When HR is involved from the beginning, you can not only ensure that the talent you are acquiring is strong, but also that these individuals are being nurtured for success within your organization. To further express the value of high-potential employee development, here is an excerpt from our whitepaper, Steps to Identifying & Developing High-Potential Employees:

Unlike their peers, high-potential employees require different forms of nurturing to fully achieve their potential. They need to be mentored, challenged, and taught how to become a successful leader in your organization. 
To develop a high-potential employee, you must provide them with opportunities to learn. This comes in many shapes and sizes, and should be tailored to that individual. Learning opportunities should be challenging and highly visible within the company — especially to executive leadership. However, to fully develop this type of future leader, you must also integrate autonomy into the learning process. Giving them the chance to solve problems and grow on their own is instrumental to their success.
Stagnation is a stumbling block for many HiPos in that they do not feel supported or challenged enough to continue in their program. To combat this, these employees should be moved through a series of demanding projects or jobs every 18 to 24 months. Not only will this demonstrate their ability to overcome challenges and build out their networks and relationships, but it also prepares them to take on broader roles when the time comes.  

As a strategic partner, HR can help to develop a high-potential employee’s path to success, grooming them to become self-disruptive leaders within your organization. Ensuring your HR leaders have their eyes on the prize, you can rest assured that the future of your company is in good hands.

Steps to Identifying & Developing High-Potential Employees

Regardless if your company currently has a HiPo development program, our whitepaper can help to assess the current state of your development plan, as well as set you up for success in the event you are creating one. You will learn:

  • What makes an employee high-potential
  • Ways to identify critical talent
  • How to formally identify HiPos within your organization
  • The features of a successful program
  • The steps to transition from first-level to senior leader
  • How to coach HiPos to success
  • What it means to be a self-disruptive leader 

To download the whitepaper, click here.

3. Succession Planning

When you invest in employee development, you get the added benefit of being able to plan for the future. Understanding employee interests and capabilities enable you to get the right people, in the right roles, with the right training and identify successors at different time intervals. 

In addition, utilizing HR as a strategic partner will allow you to understand where gaps exist and what resources are needed to fill them. Regular and frequent evaluation of your talent pipeline, as well as current potential within your organization by your leadership team and HR department will provide critical insight into next steps. 

Do any current employees show promise of filling your company’s needs, or will you need to source someone with a more specific skillset to help your business achieve its goals? Both of these questions can be answered by your HR leaders since they are strategically involved in both talent acquisition and development. 

4. Technology Prowess

HR is often the last department to get the funding or approval to implement a system or their module of an existing system. However, technology can systematize the transactional creating additional time for the strategic. With technology, you can create the analytics to support the discussion around areas to address and opportunities to improve. After all, data should be the foundation for which any decision is made within a company, especially when considering an additional investment. 

By identifying HR as a strategic partner, and granting them the tools they need to succeed, you can more easily cut waste in your organization and invest in technology that will make a lasting, positive difference. 

5. Culture Enhancement

Employee engagement is the key to a successful company. Beyond the perquisites the company offers, do employees understand the company’s strategy and goals? Do they understand how their efforts impact goal achievement? Do they receive professional development and understand how to move to different opportunities within the company? Do they feel they have a voice and can the affect change? 

Working towards a strong company culture benefits you in three main ways. It:

  1. Attracts great employees
  2. Increases retention rates
  3. Boosts productivity

To work towards a strong culture, your leaders — both company-wide and in HR — must work to define your culture, hire people that fit, encourage communication, applaud accomplishments, and plan engaging activities, among other things. Read more about this in our blog, 9 Ways to Cultivate a Positive Workplace Culture.

Additionally, frequent “pulse surveys” that focus on specific topics enable you to stay on top of issues and provide an avenue to implement meaningful actions or provide clarifying communications to increase engagement. A regular and more comprehensive cultural survey needs to be conducted as well to stay ahead of potential issues and identify what is working and where improvement is needed.

Even as a Strategic Partner, HR Can’t Do It All

HR as a strategic partner creates the greatest value when its actions are aligned with the goals of the company. Spending the time to understand the implications each of these activities has on your goals will ensure that your time and energy are focused on the greatest enablers of your company’s success.

However, this doesn’t mean that your HR leaders won’t need outside assistance. At Kinsley Sarn, we specialize in executive search, assessment, and outplacement. Using over 70 years of combined experience, we understand the intricacies of acquiring, developing, and retaining critical talent. As an extension of your company, we will work to deeply understand your goals, vision, and needs, and treat HR as a strategic partner, keeping your team involved in every step of the process

If you are looking to identify potential within your organization, or are seeking to fill gaps in your pipeline, we are ready to help. Click the button below to learn more about our services and how we can support you in your search for talent.

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