The power to transform an organisation lies in the hands of the HR team – developing, mentoring, and guiding employees to perform to the best of their abilities, and enhance overall productivity levels.
However, by failing to align HR actions with overarching business objectives, many HR professionals miss the boat when it comes to driving true value for the wider business. As such, if you wish to optimise your performance, you consider bringing HR into the boardroom.
Currently, employees, managers, and HR professionals spend too much time on transactional, non-value adding activities, which not only threaten employee engagement, but also reduce capacity to perform strategic HR tasks – work that contributes directly to an organisation’s bottom line.
Most importantly, HR investments are often regarded as too costly and not important enough to integrate throughout the wider organisation. HR teams must therefore learn to speak the language of leadership and align their statements to what is most relevant to the business.
In light of this, below I shed light on how to communicate the importance of HR’s voice to the C-Suite on HR activities and the top tips for maximising HR’s business impact. By following these four simple steps, HR’s voice in the boardroom will move from nice-to-have to necessity.
Create capacity to be strategic
To optimise performance, HR leaders must first consider the transactional vs. strategic HR debate. On the one hand, transactional tasks such as managing, scanning, and filing employee documents are necessary, but the time required to complete them is typically disproportionate to the value they drive.
On the other hand, strategic HR activities make HR a crucial partner to the business, rather than just another cog in the organisational machine. For example, building a great place to work, attracting and retaining top talent, and expanding rewards initiatives enhance overall workplace infrastructure.
Managers must therefore look to create the right balance between transactional and strategic HR, prioritising the activities that add value to overarching business objectives. It is important to note that disconnected digital systems can be a barrier at this stage as leveraging technology is the best way to manage transactional tasks and create capacity for HR professionals.
Organisations who are ahead of the innovation curve will have automated systems in place, and will utilise the power of data and analytics to manage one’s time and daily activities more efficiently.
Define a clear strategy that aligns with business objectives
The second stage considers an organisation’s short and long-term objectives, and how to align these with individual, team, and departmental HR actions. The key question at this stage is how can HR professionals work on driving greater value for the business if they don’t know what they are aiming for?
For example, it is common for HR teams to focus on day-to-day tasks without stopping to consider what makes the business tick. In doing so, HR teams often fall short of achieving maximum business value from their efforts.
To combat this downfall, stop and ask yourselves what is at the heart of the business and what new doors can HR open. You must also speak to C-Suite executives and look at annual reports, industry trends, customer feedback, or new hires. HR must then figure out how to stay in the loop on all of the above.
Essentially, the transformative power of HR can lead to immeasurable benefits for organisations and this begins with defining a clear strategy that aligns closely with the core business goals.
Narrow down what matters most to the business
At this stage, identify your areas of focus and scope out your actions with precision. This can be broken down into three simple steps. First, select the business goal that will make the biggest impact and drive true value for the wider organisation. Second, figure out how HR can contribute to this. And third, action the specific HR activities to meet this goal, making sure to consider what today’s employees want and need.
For example, if a top concern for staff is that their basic wellbeing requirements are not being met, HR can focus on strategic HR tasks such as creating new and improved wellbeing initiatives – catering to the needs of each and every employee.
The bottom line here is that employee expectations are critical to the overall business strategy and organisation’s that focus their efforts will be better placed to cater to these needs. Put simply, it’s a matter of deciding what things you’re not going to do.
Learn the language of leadership
And finally, learn the language of leadership and figure out how to communicate actions clearly to C-Suite executives. For example, business leaders often speak a lingo that is specific to their roles and this can create a barrier for HR when entering the boardroom.
To avoid confusion, HR leaders must align their statements to what is most relevant to the business, avoid HR jargon, and translate HR actions into C-Suite language. Doing your research, being succinct, and creating a line of sight in which HR drives business performance will also be critical when communicating with those at the top of the organisation.
The key takeaway here is that HR’s voice in the boardroom is pivotal to business success, from attracting, and retaining top talent, to the management, and monitoring of employee engagement. HR leaders simply need to prove it to the C-Suite, connect the dots, and align actions with broader corporate strategies.