Trends in human resources change as HR professionals are no longer confined to the traditional roles of policy enforcement, payroll management, and administrative tasks.

Leading organizations are at the forefront of this transformation, recognizing that talent is central to solving business challenges and seizing opportunities. These trailblazers are redefining success, demonstrating through their innovative HR practices that a positive, strategic approach to human resources can lead to outstanding business results.  

The good news is that this evolution of HR maximizes business value because investing in talent secures a competitive edge. As Gartner showed, achieving success when cost challenges emerge, and employee expectations keep shifting demands a critical focus on this aspect. 

When CHROs are recognized as business leaders, they can progressively adapt the HR domain to balance personnel, strategic planning, operational processes, and technological advancements, in line with business goals.  

The bad news is that organizations sticking to outdated human resource management models will likely struggle to keep pace.

A Strategic HR Partner

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The modern workplace needs a modern HR department that can be an essential partner in all organizational decision-making processes. Gotara’s CEO and Founder, Dr. D Sangeeta, shares: In my experience, many HR people have made the business impact, and the best HR teams do just that. But it does require a seat at the table.

Having HR involved in top-level meetings makes sure that employee needs and plans for managing talent are vital parts of creating business strategies, not just added on later. This is a significant change from when HR was often brought in only after the main business plans were made.  

For HR to effectively contribute to workforce planning and shaping business strategies, companies must restructure their departments to address the current issue: 95% of HR leaders feel overwhelmed by the workload and stress. This restructuring should aim to streamline HR operations, possibly through adopting more efficient systems or redistributing tasks, to allow HR pros the bandwidth to focus on strategic work. 

You know your HR team has a seat at the table when: 

  • HR is actively involved in top management discussions, contributing to the overall business strategy with insights on organizational capabilities, culture, and workforce dynamics. 
  • HR professionals are recognized as key strategists who formulate policies that align with the company’s long-term objectives, influencing the strategic direction through workforce planning and talent management. 
  • HR is involved in all organizational changes from the outset, so they can strategically manage and facilitate the transition process while maintaining employee engagement and morale with effective communication and support strategies. 
  • The company culture recognizes HR’s role in supporting the company’s vision and strategic goals.  
  • HR experts are integral members of cross-functional teams and can bring their unique perspective on organizational behavior and talent management, ensuring that human capital is considered in all strategic decisions.

Building a Strong Partnership Between HR Practitioners and Business Leaders

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So, how can an HR professional have a seat at the executive table, formulating strategies in partnership with business leaders? Chief People Officer Angie Hemmelgarn suggests deeply understanding the business imperatives, developing relationships with peers, and working together to formulate a talent strategy: “First, behave ‘as if’—I have an equal voice, I have value to bring. But you also have to know how to talk the talk.

This is the strategic role of HR: investing in people and maintaining employee engagement so that business goals are met, customer needs are served well, and employees find purpose and joy in work.

First, clearly understand and articulate the business problem you are trying to solve. Then, solicit the support of business leaders for the necessary resources, voice, and time to bring your plan to fruition. Engage and secure buy-in from your business counterparts, demonstrate progress within your strategic framework, and underscore achievements. Then you win together,” adds Hemmelgarn.

How Do You Measure the Success of HR Initiatives?

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Jessica’s story isn’t an isolated scenario but a common issue across many companies. The absence of structured training and upskilling for managers, especially in technical fields, often leaves them without the necessary leadership skills to think strategically. They may be familiar with the mission and vision but need help to identify the tasks required to achieve strategic goals. This gap in knowledge and alignment leads to wasted efforts and lost financial resources. 

The bad news is that the challenge extends beyond the individual level, affecting the entire workforce. Many organizations rely on unwritten rules and expect employees to learn on the job, which in time deepens the gap in standardized knowledge of business acumen across teams.  

How can companies bridge this gap? Ongoing training and development opportunities enable those in leadership positions to enhance their business acumen and, thus, better guide their teams toward shared strategic goals. Good leadership starts with shaping the success of individual managers. In return, those strong leadership skills will help consolidate the organization.

How to Elevate HR Teams

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  1. Evaluate every HR professional’s potential

Understand their unique strengths and untapped potential so you can identify individuals ready to step outside their usual roles and take on more strategic responsibilities.

  1. Ensure HR professionals have an equal seat at the table

Position HR on an equal footing with business leaders who manage P&L accounts. Give them an equal voice in developing and implementing business strategies, ensuring their insights and expertise in talent management are valued just as highly as financial and operational perspectives.

  1. Change the way HR’s work is measured

In many companies, HR objectives often mirror a reactive, order-taking approach. Take, for instance, a scenario where a CEO allocated $200,000 to a Chief People Officer to train 2,000 staff members. If the success metric is based solely on the number of participants trained, the actual impact of the training on their performance gets ignored. In such cases, it’s crucial for the CEO to identify this discrepancy and for the CPO to advocate for more meaningful measures of success, focusing on the tangible outcomes and improvements resulting from the training rather than just completion rates.

  1. Create a vision for raising the bar on talent

HR can be a strategic partner by measuring upskilling and talent development on these programs’ ROI. Did the training increase productivity, innovation, or improved customer relationships? Did the training bring more diverse talent into the leadership pipeline? This way, the workforce evolves with the business to consolidate an agile, responsive, goal and customer-centric organization.

  1. Prioritize ideas

Align leadership and HR strategies. This way, the organization strategically allocates resources to initiatives more likely to support revenue goals. Prioritizing at this stage maximizes the potential for success and meaningful impact.

  1. Work outside standard processes

Encourage HR professionals to challenge the norm. This earned agility will enable a culture of adaptability, allowing the HR team to respond swiftly to organizational change and lead talent strategies with flexibility and innovation.

  1. Coordinate content creation and engage senior leaders

Give HR a voice and let the experts communicate the vision and progress of the various initiatives. Make it easy for them to engage senior leaders in creating a shared vision with collaboration and transparency.

  1. Tailor the execution framework

Support HR professionals as they work through implementation, ensuring that every strategic initiative around workforce planning and talent development aligns with the day-to-day work.

  1. Test concepts without disruption

Give HR room to assess the viability of initiatives. It’s a strategic move to ensure that concepts are refined and ready before proceeding to broader implementation.

  1. Share success stories

Give HR professionals room to share the tangible impact of their strategic initiatives. Help them create a narrative of success that resonates with senior management. This inspires a continuous improvement and innovation culture throughout the organization and establishes HR as architects of organizational success.

What We’ve Learned from Companies that Push HR Trends and Boundaries

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  • Empowered HR executives show strategic thinking and improve talent management initiatives despite the most challenging times. 
  • Encouraging leaders to collaborate with HR departments as equals results in a more human-centric approach to performance management. 
  • Setting a culture of continuous learning within HR departments ensures professionals keep up with emerging HR trends and talent acquisition best practices. 
  • When allowed to act outside the HR standard talent development process, HR leaders explore innovative ways to measure employee engagement beyond traditional surveys. 
  • Retention strategies are better implemented in companies where HR is a strategic equal rather than an executor. 

Final Thoughts

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A balanced perspective is crucial in HR: give them a place at the table to advocate for employee well-being (the mental health, needs, and aspirations of employees) and your strategic objectives. This way, they can balance these perspectives to stop talent leaks and implement effective career management strategies. This means recognizing and nurturing the enthusiasm and energy employees are willing to invest in the company, which is key to retaining top talent. 

Simultaneously, HR needs to clearly understand the business’s needs, goals, and challenges. This dual focus enables HR professionals to effectively align workforce strategies with business imperatives, ensuring employee satisfaction and employer interests are served. 

This synergy leads to a ‘win-win’ situation: employee experience is enhanced with opportunities for growth and fulfillment, while the business benefits from improved performance, innovation, and competitive advantage. 

Need help with leader and management development? Gotara can help you upskill your workforce and empower HR departments to navigate and lead change effectively. Check out our dedicated programs to learn how to deliver business results and create a pipeline of leaders for your organization.