Once upon a time, HR was purely seen as a transactional role for compliance and administration purposes. However, the role of HR has evolved significantly over the years into what is now a strategic entity. What’s important to note here is that this does, of course, depend on the size of the business, its ‘maturity’ and business objectives – For example, a start-up with five employees will not have the same need (yet) as a multi-national organisation with 10 000 employees.
However, let’s concentrate on the strategic role of HR and how this has changed. In previous times, as touched on, HR was sometimes viewed as a ‘necessary evil’. But now, the role is slowly transforming into a strategic business partner. Questions are now asked of HR professionals relating to how they are contributing to the bottom line? How are they going to help the business grow? Mounting pressures in today’s business climate including environmental pressures, technological change and tougher competition, means companies are having to change the way they work and HR needs to support this, strategically.
It’s increasingly important for the HR department to understand the business and develop a ‘people’ strategy in-line with the overarching business strategy, taking into consideration all the different elements an HR strategy and role entails from recruiting the right people to performance management, reward and retention, training and development, succession planning and more.
In line with the above, the various departments within an organisation need to prove their worth and so need to ensure their people perform to the best of their ability. Therefore, having HR as a dedicated strategic business partner is extremely powerful in ensuring employees are in the right roles, performing to their best ability and as a consequence, suitably rewarded.
Even with the landscape evolving from ‘personnel function’ to a business partner, of course, there is still a mountain of paperwork to process. However, the development of HCM software has meant repetitive administrative tasks which once swamped HR professionals, are now automated and both employees and managers have the ability to self-serve. This shift allows the HR professional the time to concentrate on their people strategy.
There are many ways HR can achieve fully-fledged strategic business partner status;
Some companies assign dedicated HR resource to each business unit to allow a focused relationship. Others take on a consultative approach whereby internal customers are viewed as clients. Others ensure line managers are trained in various areas of HR, increasing their access to information and adopting new technologies.
We’re interested to see the continued journey of the HR professional and should you need advice on how to automate your processes to allow you to concentrate on the more strategic elements of your role, then please click here.