HR Transformation? No Time Like the Present

Here’s a scenario that will sound familiar to any HR professional: an employee in the break room approaches, “Are you the new HR Manager?” As soon as you confirm, you’ll find an employee in distress. You give her a pep talk, get her fit for duty and send her on her way. Then one day it occurs to you that you’re not serving the organization or the Human Resources team well by being a therapist, addressing benefits issues, and telling adult staff to play nice. It is time to begin identifying opportunities to transform your HR department by rethinking how to do business at a higher, more strategic level vs. focusing on the transactional and functional.

So, what exactly is HR transformation?

HR transformation is about re-establishing human resources as an integral part of an organization’s core business strategies. It  identifies ways that the department’s core functions can be optimized to make HR more consultative and impactful, which will ultimately result in a more efficient, cost-effective organization.

Let’s face it, Human Resources has evolved over the years, transitioning from the traditional policing and compliance “personnel” arm of the business to a more strategic discipline. Today, HR departments are responsible for things as varied as sourcing and securing top talent, onboarding change management, creating and maintaining a positive, inclusive workplace culture — all things that strengthen the very foundation of an organization. If HR is to continue to occupy a seat at the strategic leadership table, we owe it to our leadership partners to consider a more progressive approach to supporting the business. In short, HR Transformation!

Five strategic HR Transformation Initiatives

Below are five HR transformation initiatives every organization should consider or refine as part of their HR strategy:

  1. Strive to become data driven
    If you don’t already have an HR Dashboard, make developing one a priority this year. Consider a tracking tool that holds analytics for all of your critical HR metrics, particularly those tied to the organization’s goals and profit margins. Your dashboard should include data visualizations that help the HR department improve recruiting processes, optimize workplace management, and enhance employee performance. Monitor your top 8 to 10 metrics that benchmark performance and metrics that can be linked to future organizational outcomes.
  2. Create an internal partnership that aligns with your business goals
    Make sure that HR is represented at the leadership table and that all of your HR staff is trained to be more consultative than transactional. Your HR Team should be trained and marketed as professionals who work closely with hiring managers and senior leaders in order to develop recruiting, compensation, staff engagement, and talent management strategies that best support the overall objectives of the organization. Start by meeting with your senior leadership team to find out what they want to achieve and then determine how you can leverage your HR team to help them achieve this.
  3. Invest in technology
    In order to improve all aspects of employment from recruitment to operations to turnover, Human Resources must be equipped with the most innovative tools available in gathering data with maximum efficiency. Strategically HR Technology is used to attract, hire, retain and maintain talent, and optimize workforce management. It also provides leaders with the necessary decision-making tools to allow them to make more effective HR-related decisions, all of which requires the most highly functional technology.
  4. Automate core transactional processes
    Automating basic processes is key to transforming HR from the transactional to the strategic. The more you empower your employee through self-service features, the more your time can be dedicated to creating a stronger, more stable workplace culture. Chances are, your current HR systems are capable of automating more processes than you use them for. This may be the right time for an HRIS assessment.
  5. Start thinking three steps ahead
    You won’t get very far strategically if you’re thinking too much in the short term. Short-term thinking extinguishes flames. Mid-term thinking finds the source of the fire. Where you really need to be is fireproofing your whole building! If you start thinking three steps ahead, you’ll soon be aligning HR with your organization’s bigger strategy. You’ll be working towards becoming a strategic business partner.

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In the world of Human Resources the only constant is change and it pays to stay ahead of the curve. Embracing HR transformation and rethinking how your HR team works puts you in the best position to help your organization, your leaders, your hiring managers, and your employees adapt and evolve. Most importantly, transformation will inevitably result in building a more progressive and competitive company.


William Wiggins

William Wiggins

William has held consulting and strategic HR roles at Mercer Human Resources Consulting, Kaiser Permanente, and Williams-Sonoma. He is an industry leader when it comes to building strong collaborative HR partnerships and leadership teams that focus on staff engagement, retention, career development, and staff recognition programs. William’s training curriculum includes Crucial Conversations, Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace, and EEOC 101.

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