Oct 27, 2014

In a recent interview, DDI General Manager Simon Mitchell commented that a high proportion of CEOs and board-level executives see HR as “the least strategic function” within an organization based upon a major survey conducted with a broad base of global leaders and HR executives.*

This kind of survey feedback should certainly be a concern to Human Resources departments around the world who tirelessly strive to add value to their business and drive it forward.

HR’s organizational role has never been more critical. HR is the human capital driver of the business strategy.

5 ways to keep HR in C-level discussions

Workforce demographics are continuing to shift, roles are evolving, employment longevity is changing and the flexible workforce is growing in importance, with a bigger percentage of contingent employees involved in high-impact, business-critical roles. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in September that temp agencies were employing a record 2.9 million workers.

Addressing such changes head-on is vital to ensuring the business is attractive to the top talent that will drive future success and growth. HR is essential to this process, constantly working to improve the quality of talent, productivity, and keeping governance and reporting functions aligned, all whilst increasing business impact.

To gain the recognition and support it deserves from the CEO suite, the HR department needs to ensure it is proactively aligning itself with wider business interests.

Here are five strategies that will ensure HR is a prominent feature in C-level discussions:

1. Strengthening relationships outside of HR

It might seem obvious, but it is surprising how easy it is for HR to become absorbed by pressing recruitment and talent management activities. HR naturally affects every employee in the business and is the point of call for a wide range of issues and procedures, but often relationships are transactional.

HR executives should make a conscious effort to build their intra-organizational network. Not only will this boost their presence as a business force, but it will naturally lead to a greater understanding of the needs of different functions across the business. In turn, this means improved quality hires as talent acquisition leaders have an improved understanding of business needs.

2. A more sophisticated approach to budgeting & planning

Long gone are the days of approximate budgets and rudimentary plans for the next quarter; functions across the business are increasingly expected to be able to justify plans and their associated budgets with business reason.

HR is no exception. Human Resource departments need to ensure they are not just reporting budgets, but effectively forecasting them. This, coupled with the ability to present effectively to the C-suite, will inspire greater confidence in the HR department from above.

3. Using data to anticipate future challenges

Marketers have been using data for years to predict customer behavior and lend their strategies to maximise return. Now, however, HR technologies are more sophisticated than ever and HR has a range of tools at their disposal to anticipate talent needs and align with the business.

The CEO expects strategy to be built upon a foundation of fact; data can provide this. HR should have already made the switch from reactive to proactive, by effectively predicting future challenges and adapting its strategies accordingly.

4. Creating an effective business culture

By carefully selecting employees, HR is responsible not only for amassing a workforce that has the right talent and skills, but for the creation of the entire company culture.

Smart HR departments are putting cultural fit at the center of their acquisition process to help them attract and retain the most valuable candidates. Paying close attention to company culture means HR can build a workforce thriving with talent that drives the business forward.

5. Putting technological innovation at the heart of HR

Innovation is not just a buzzword – it is here to stay. CEOs want innovation to run through the blood of their organization, leaving the perfect opportunity for the HR to make their company a trailblazer.

Whether it’s by shaking up their sourcing strategy with mobile and social optimization, or leveraging new technologies for employee development in their company, HR has more opportunities than some other functions to push its boundaries.

By doing so, the HR department can prove to they are forward-thinking and determined to put their company on the map.

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