By Catherine Skrzypinski
VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Canada—Because HR jobs have emerged as some of the most important roles in business here, HR professionals must move away from processes and policies and focus on shaping company strategies for productivity and performance.
And if HR wants to increase its influence at an organization, it should become more proficient at using data and analytics to measure its return on investment at a company, Rusty Lindquist, vice president of thought leadership and product marketing at software management company BambooHR, told attendees May 2 at the HR Conference & Tradeshow 2017. The Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of British Columbia and Yukon sponsored the conference.
«Our industry is mission-critical to the future of the world,» he added. «HR professionals are the most critical component … because in all organizations, its people systems are the most important.»
Change Executives’ Mindset
However, executives don’t typically share this perspective of HR’s role, Lindquist said, and it’s time to change their minds.
«We’ve got to be better at marketing our own value and start speaking [the] language» of business, he said.
To do this, HR must articulate—through the company’s values, mission and beliefs—why employees should come to work every day and invest themselves, Lindquist explained.
«If you create a great place to work, then great work will take place,» he added.
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The Conference Board reports that CEOs worldwide say their challenge in 2017 is attracting and keeping the best employees. «There is a department in your organization to solve this problem, and it’s the department [executives] pay the least attention to,» Lindquist said while discussing the report.
«For our organizations to survive and thrive in this highly competitive economy, we’ve got to wake up and empower HR,» he added.
Act Like a Business
To gain credibility in the boardroom, HR needs to break away from its operational mode and become involved in company strategy.
«Organizations need to recognize the value HR can create, and HR needs to be present in all discussions,» said Lindquist, a frequent presenter for Society for Human Resource Management-produced webcasts.
Here are three ways HR professionals can take a more strategic role:
  • Focus on activities that add value, such as culture, performance and engagement.
  • Automate tasks such as payroll, benefits, and time and attendance.
  • Improve the onboarding process.
    Psychologists have found that if people want change, they should focus on thoughts and beliefs—not behaviors, Lindquist stated. «When we learn to think like a business, then we naturally start to act like a business,» he continued. «When we undergo this transformation within our departments, the organization then perceives [HR] as a business partner.»
    Business Model Canvas
    Lindquist encouraged conference attendees to try the Business Model Canvas approach to transform HR into an internal business unit, build credibility across the organization and earn a seat at the strategic table. Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneurit’s book Business Model Generation (John Wiley and Sons, 2010) details how organizations create and deliver value, he said.
    Here’s how Lindquist sees this business model applying to HR professionals:
  • Identify HR’s customers—employees, executives, managers, job candidates, etc.—and strengthen those relationships.
  • Be strategic about shaping the company’s culture, employer brand, employee engagement, operational efficiency and organizational performance.
  • Look for partners within the organization that can strengthen how to communicate HR’s role in the organization.
    Catherine Skrzypinski, a freelance writer in Vancouver, covered the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of British Columbia and Yukon’s HR Conference and Tradeshow for SHRM Online.