Human Resources

How Do I Build an HR Department for the Future?


Getting a “seat at the table” has been coined for years as one of HR’s biggest struggles and opportunities to be seen as a strategic group within the organization. After exploring this issue for quite some time, many argue, “most human-resources professionals aren’t nearly there. They have no seat, and the table is locked inside a conference room to which they have no key. HR people are, for most practical purposes, neither strategic nor leaders,” wrote Keith Hammonds, former Fast Company deputy editor, in 2005. Many continue to challenge the tactical view of HR and suggest what HR can do to earn that seat at the table.

So, the question still remains—how do HR professionals become more strategic leaders within their businesses to earn that seat at the table? Here we share three things your HR department should be doing now to make sure your HR professionals are equipped to take on more prominent and strategic roles in your organization.

Building a Strategy for Finding Sources of Future Talent

Your hiring strategy should focus on more than just the tactical aspects of recruiting, such as posting job descriptions, screening and assessing applicants and onboarding. It should also be developing the activities critical to talent acquisition and retention, including contact management, employment branding and internal mobility.

Start by examining your current hiring strategy and measuring your quality of hire. This process will help you define metrics and a way to measure the success of your hiring, which you will use to improve the process now and in the future.

There are several metrics you can use to measure quality of hire; here are three highlighted by Robin Erickson, talent acquisition research director for Bersin by Deloitte:

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  • Post-Hire Assessments: Ongoing assessments of new hires, even past the 90-day mark, can be insightful on a new employee’s post-ramp up performance and adoption of company culture.
  • Hiring Manager Satisfaction: Consistent feedback from your hiring managers can be an effective way to give leadership insight into what’s working from the hiring perspective and bring any issues to light that may need to be addressed.
  • Candidate Satisfaction: Surveying your new hires on a consistent basis can help create a baseline for recruiter performance and identify opportunities or improvements that can be made to the hiring process.

Partnering with and Consulting Business Leaders on HR

Start identifying real organizational issues within your company and consult company leadership on how HR can help meet those challenges. Being able to speak to your CEO’s most pressing needs and share strategies for hiring and employee management that will help meet those challenges can help HR connect with C-level executives on a business level.

“[HR has] to help the frontline managers think more deeply about their own workforce, and ask questions like, ‘Where’s your business going in five years? What kind of talent do we have? Are we structured right?’ ” says Jay Jamrog, a senior vice president at the Institute for Corporate Productivity.

By expressing the value of HR and your work and how it impacts your company’s bottom line, you can help business leaders understand why HR should be a voice in long-term business strategy discussions.

Developing Proficiency in HR Technology to Streamline Traditional Tasks

Another issue that could be holding you back from playing a strategic role in your organization is the amount of tactical and administrative responsibilities you have, such as payroll, benefits administration and time tracking.

In a study by the Institute for Corporate Productivity, 64 percent of business leaders surveyed said “employees will begin to take away some of the transactional work from HR, partly because of new technology that allows HR departments to streamline traditional tasks.”

Becoming more proficient and aware of technology and applications that can make HR more efficient, such as applicant tracking software and talent management systems, and applying that knowledge to the business can help reveal how HR impacts your company’s bottom line.

As a good first step, find the right HR technology for your business. Reference our buyer’s guide to identify the best online hiring and recruiting software for you.

How to Choose an Online Hiring and Recruiting System

  Discuss This Article

Comments: 6

  • Thank you for sharing such an informational and intriguing article. As every part of a business has its own responsibilities and objectives … HR should always have a place “@ the table” since they are typically the ones who have to deal with the before and after employee relationship it would only make sense to have them involved regularly throughout the employment lifetime.

  • I loved the 3 priorities and feel they’re timeless: Acquire and Develop Talent, Understand and Support Strategy, Master and Exploit Technology. My only issue is the whole ‘seat at the table’ thing. If you have to demand one, you’ll never have one. It’s like Fredo in the Godfather, “I’m smart…” Act like you belong there, make the contributions you know you can and you’ll be treated as a leader and significant contributor. I have never heard an effective HR Leader talk about ‘getting a seat at the table’. they just assumed they had one and acted that way.

  • Good point, Matt. It’s interesting – a true HR Pro knows how to get her/his seat at the table (contributions) but unfortunately, some orgs simply don’t give HR the visibility, support, and position it should have. It does seem as though things are changing, and rapidly, for the better.

  • Implicit in the second point, partnerip front line managers to resolve their most pressing needs, is a requirement to truly understand how the business operates and the markets it is competing in. If you can’t have the conversation about where the industry is going and the challenges your company faces in it, well that’s exactly the conversation the top table is having!

  • The role of HR is always under estimated are made look very simple. When the going is good in the company , credit is attributed to all the other functionaries, where as if there is any failure , it is solely attributed to HR for wrong hire or wrong policy.In this context , this article is of great relevance.

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