It feels like human resources has been trying for so long to be legitimized, that they have overlooked some of their core strengths of what they could do for the business. This isn’t about the tactical or the strategic arms of HR, it’s about both. Both are relevant to the business, albeit in different ways and both are instrumental in making a case for developing strong people practices.
It’s time to move on from the debate about whether HR has a seat at the table. Having a seat at the table does not guarantee being part of the ongoing adult (read as business) conversation. How about showing up with a story to tell of how in your HR role you can help the business win? How about coming prepared to tell the business how the organization’s human capital should inform their actions, instead of being seen as a risk to innovation that needs to be mitigated?
If you can’t figure out how to do that, maybe it’s time you worked in another field. There’s mountains of evidence now that shows the dollar to dollar value of various people practices. For example the return on investment of employee engagement, the true value associated with building a culture that supports and empowers employees can also be shown in dollars.
Of course there are real savings in implementing the tactical policies that mitigate day to day risk. The leaves of absence policies, the sexual harassment policies, etc. I can go on and on. These priorities may sound soft and squishy, but the reality is that there are hard numbers that can be found. Numbers that when explained in the context of either saving the company money, or making the company money … become meaningful to the business.
You don’t need to earn your set at the table, you already have if you’re doing things right. So stop quipping about it. Start doing something about it, and figure out how to add real value to the business. Need some suggestions on how to get moving … start with this list of 10 actions:
1. Stop calling yourself business support
2. Stop calling yourself business partner
3. Start measuring the impact of what you do, in real dollars
4. Stop implementing policies that don’t make sense
5. Stop creating policies that you need a lawyer to decipher
6. Start acting like a business owner
7. Start calling yourself a strategic asset
8. Start being more consultative
9. Stop creating your own work to justify your existence
10. Stop being an order taker
Lastly, know the business. Really take the time to learn the business. Only then can you truly be a strategic asset. It’s not enough anymore to just know HR. Times have changed. If you want take a seat at the big kids table, start speaking the same language.
If the recently reinvigorated war on talent lives up to the NEW hype, speaking up now will then help HR become the most strategic part of the business.
It is time HR actually earned a seat at the table … instead of just being happy to have an assigned seat.