Strategic HR: How to Earn a Seat at the Table
What does it mean to have a seat at the table? In the past, the table was a literal one: the boardroom table, where getting a seat meant having a C-level title on your resume or a significant share of company ownership. But now, a seat at the table means you’re a part of the strategic conversation that decides the future of your organization. And as traditional corporate structures have begun to flatten into more connected workforces, many companies are realizing that strategic HR management is a big part of figuring out just how big the new table is and how many seats are available.
If HR has plans to be strategic partners in their organizations, they had better have a seat reserved when the music stops.
When it comes to running an organization, two important processes have to happen: someone needs to make decisions and someone needs to carry them out. Ironically, it’s executives who tend to make these decisions and provide leadership for the employees who actually execute the strategy.
Strategy and execution—it takes both to help your organization accomplish its mission, realize its vision, and live its values. Both strategy and execution affect how your people interact and produce on a daily basis. And all too often, HR is relegated to the time-consuming execution of organizational maintenance while others make the strategic decisions.
As an organization grows, HR doesn’t just need to take a seat at the strategic table—it needs to facilitate the decision-making process with a strategic HR plan and make sure that managers and leadership are on the same page. It takes a unified and communicating executive team to provide employees with an experience that inspires them to give their best work.
With connections throughout the organization, HR is uniquely qualified to provide the data and insights to support executives’ decisions and make company-wide communication possible.
But any strategy takes time to execute, and for an HR department burdened with busywork, time is already in short supply. This is where technology can help: an HRIS, or human resources information system, can help streamline the process to make it feasible for HR and management to fit strategy into their schedules without cumbersome effort.
This ebook will give you a macro-level look at effective strategies for every step of the employee experience, each paired with tips for using an HRIS for efficient execution.
HR Strategic Plan: Timely and Targeted
Hiring is one of the top tasks that HR is asked to execute. But almost more than in any other area, having an HR strategic plan for your hiring strategy in place before extending the offer makes all the difference in ensuring you have the people you need, and helping those new employees stick with your organization.
Here are the people you need to bring to the table for your hiring strategy:
Hiring Managers: When a team is short-staffed, the hiring manager feels pressure to hire from their team members and from other departments. Making hiring managers a part of the larger strategic conversation helps reassure them that the organization recognizes their needs and is ready to support the search for a quality candidate.
CFO: Job review sites are providing unprecedented transparency when it comes to salary. Negotiating salary on a case-by-case basis can lead to unfavorable comparisons between employees, and paying too much for a new hire may leave them with little room for salary progression. Your financial officers can provide input on your industry and positioning to help you develop standardized pay ranges for your employees, supporting them now and in the future.
Chief Executives: If you haven’t already, it’s essential for your organization’s leadership to solidify your mission, vision, and values. These provide a clear picture of what your organization wants to accomplish and how it wants to achieve this goal. Clarifying these ideals needs to happen before you can define who you need to hire.
The full table won’t need to convene for every hiring decision. But it will need to establish hiring guidelines and make sure that they’re being followed as hiring continues.
Candidates ask themselves two questions when they consider your job opening:
Your hiring strategy should make it easy for candidates to find honest answers to these questions, because they won’t stop asking them after their first day of work. If they start answering no to either question, then they’ll start looking for employment that’s a better fit for their skills and goals.
Time to hire is a common metric for measuring recruiting success. While a short time to hire gives recruiters an impressive statistic to show, it can also come with an unintended consequence—it incentivizes quick hiring over targeted hiring with no concern for long-term success.
Getting recruiters, executives, and hiring managers on the same page when it comes to long-term needs helps make sure everyone gets a lasting solution to their talent shortage issue.
Execution: Targeted Description, Consistent Communication
What does it take to bring in the right candidates without excess delays?
Help hiring managers develop a specific description of the job at your organization instead of listing the attributes of their best employee or using a generic description based on the position title.
Identify the successful hard skills qualified candidates will need to narrow your applicant pool.
Determine which skills and procedures can be taught on the job (e.g. using collaboration software or following a support script).
Respect your candidates’ time and decisions throughout the hiring process—from scheduling to interview questions to prompt responses.
An applicant tracking system (ATS) is an invaluable tool for coordinating efforts and storing candidate information. Since your ATS can access candidate data stored in your HRIS, inviting another person to the hiring table doesn’t have to mean changing email lists and photocopying interview notes. And tools like automated offer letters and interview information packets lets you demonstrate that you respect their time.
HR Strategic Plan: Complete New Hires’ Great First Expectations
Optimizing your hiring process sets the stage for the next crucial part of the employee experience: onboarding. As new hires go through their first day and beyond, they update the impressions they formed during the hiring process. Delivering an excellent onboarding experience helps your organization live up to what it promised.
Here are the people you need to bring to the table for your onboarding strategy:
HR: Most of the tasks during onboarding involve HR, from tracking down signatures to preparing the physical space to starting new hire training.
Managers: Getting new hires up to speed takes time and communication. Managers need to coordinate with current team members and other departments to find the time to train new members.
Benefits Professionals: With so much to take in on their first day, it’s a rare employee that heads home and memorizes your benefits materials in full. Arranging quarterly meetings with representatives from your benefits providers can give new hires time for more in-depth questions without adding to a crowded first-day schedule.
Onboarding is more than a great first day; it’s making sure that new hires have the time to internalize all the ways their lives changed when they joined your organization. Even the most skilled and experienced employees will need to learn the ins and outs of your organization’s procedures, and it takes time to develop relationships between coworkers.
Execution: Continuous Competence and Integration
Successful employees will take steps to find what they need to do their job. When your organization stays on top of providing what they need before they need to ask for it, it demonstrates a high level of competence and planning. And when your new hires don’t have to clear these hurdles, they can spend their time making important connections with their new team.
Here are some ways an HRIS can support your onboarding process:
Automated onboarding checklists remind everyone involved with a new hire, from IT to facilities to managers, of the tasks they need to complete before the new employee arrives.
Electronic signatures let you turn first-day paperwork into a pre-boarding process that your new hires complete at home, freeing more time on the first day.
Sending out an icebreaker email to current employees with introductory information about the new hire (such as hometown, hobbies, and bucket list items) can help spark conversations on the new hire’s first day.
Sending training reminders and tracking goals in your HRIS provides managers with transparency and accountability as they follow up with new hires throughout their first months.
Effective onboarding does more than just get employees to do what you want them to do. Effective onboarding demonstrates that your organization is willing and capable of supporting new employees as they begin a new chapter of their lives.
HR Strategic Plan: Understanding Your Employees’ Human Needs
After giving your employees the right start, it’s important to understand what will continue to motivate them in the long term. This involves more than providing a steady paycheck and suitable benefits—employees also need challenging work, a clear path to progression, and a sense of purpose.
Employee satisfaction is a key ingredient in producing employee engagement, which can make all the difference in turnover, productivity, and future recruiting efforts.
It takes a coordinated effort to effectively communicate what your organization can offer each employee. Here are the people you’ll need at the table to fully address employee satisfaction efforts:
Managers: Understanding employee concerns begins with a healthy relationship between managers and employees. Holding regular one-on-one meetings helps managers learn what employees need to succeed. Done correctly, it also gives employees reassurance that their organization wants to help them grow, not punish them for their mistakes.
Executives: Many long-term employee concerns are tied to your organization’s overall strategy. What are your plans for compensation increases? How will positions change or stay the same as the organization grows? Will there be opportunities for advancement? Answering these questions helps your organization send the right message to your employees before they read between the lines and find their own answers.
HR: After working with executives and managers to develop plans to address employee satisfaction, the next step is to measure how well the plan works. With the right support, HR can measure long-term satisfaction trends in the organization and provide leadership with meaningful feedback as they make decisions for the future.
HR won’t be the commanding voice in employee satisfaction decisions. But through careful decisions and accurate measurement (including optimized hiring and onboarding), HR can provide insights that help the organization make the best possible decisions for their people and their future operations.
HRIS features do more than just provide ways for HR to participate in these conversations. They also help measure factors of employee satisfaction at every level of the organization.
Prompting employees to do manager and peer evaluations helps bring individual employees’ strengths and weaknesses to the forefront, providing detailed feedback for areas of improvement.
Goal-setting features help employees track personal progress in their craft in a way that lets your organization’s leadership appreciate their success as well.
Advanced tools like Employee Satisfaction with eNPS® provide insights on issues that large groups of employees care about, helping you spot opinion trends and change direction accordingly
Unlike other concerns, compliance doesn’t have much strategy involved: the decisions have already been made. It’s up to the organization to ensure that their daily operations clear the safeguards placed on hiring, payroll, workplace safety, and data protection.
A compliant HRIS provides a clear record for regulators to reference. It also lessens the chance for manual data entry to create errors in finances or document storage.
HR doesn’t need to have a C in the title to make a difference. Some organizations will never bestow that title. But no matter where HR professionals are, they can elevate the employee experience conversation through strategic HR—through contributing data, listening to executive needs, and then translating it into an executable people strategy.
With the right HRIS to help execute their daily tasks, HR can bring everyone to the table and coordinate the many benefits that come from a united people strategy.