Why HR is a Movement, Not a Department

Over the years, we’ve attended a number of Human Resource (HR) conferences. They’ve helped to shed light on some of the greatest challenges faced by employers, as well as by the HR specialists who work for them.

The most common trend amongst HR specialists today? Feeling undervalued. That frustration is only further cemented when organizations replace key functions of the traditional HR role, such as payroll and recruiting, with automated technology or outside vendors.

But these efficiencies aren’t the demise of HR. It’s simply the reinvention of the role as we once knew it. Savvy HR directors are thinking beyond their administrative job functions and toward more strategic ones. This transition has given them the freedom to be more agile, innovative, and high performing. And it’s also helped them play a vital role in moving companies toward their business goals.

What greater value proposition is there than that?

Here are three ways that you can join the HR movement:

1. Gain insight into your organization’s business goals.

No matter what industry you work in, your organization should have defined business goals. Some might be related to profitability and cost efficiency, such as revenue, growth, or retention. Others might be specific to your industry, such as improved patient outcomes for healthcare providers or the reduction of your company’s carbon footprint for commercial airlines. Ask your leadership team to define these goals for you, which is the starting point to determining how you can help reach them.

2. Get to know people beyond their personnel file.

When someone gets called into HR, it’s often likened to being sent to the principal’s office. This positions HR as an enemy rather than an ally. Reframe that perspective by developing genuine relationships with colleagues in other departments. Learn about the various roles that make up your organization and the people who fill them — from the intern to the CEO. Then look for opportunities to collaborate. Seek out their input on initiatives you’re leading, listen to their input, and find ways to integrate it into your strategy. When you’re inclusive of others in decision-making, they’re more likely to return the favor, involving HR in strategic decisions they may not have been otherwise.

3. Look at the big picture — then zoom in on the gaps.

One of the greatest misconceptions about HR is that it’s strictly an administrative role, maintaining benefits packages, company policies, HR records, and administering compensation. Those job functions, while essential, overlook your ability to act strategically on behalf of the organization.

For example, let’s say you work for a healthcare organization that has a goal of increasing employee retention. Knowing this, you breakdown the turnover rate by role and notice that nurses account for most of it.

You might consider:

  • Sending out an anonymous survey to determine what’s working and what could be improved
  • Meeting with supervisors
  • Reviewing compensation, benefits packages, and recognition practices, in comparison to that of your competitors

Through your research, you might discover that stress is one of the main reasons people leave. Get creative with offering the nurses healthy ways to manage it. Maybe it’s developing an onsite walking path and working with supervisors to implement a more consistent break schedule. Or facilitating quarterly resilience trainings, in order to help providers, nurses, and staff find healthy ways to manage stress.

Looking beyond your traditional HR role will require you to stretch outside of your comfort zone. But it will also cement your role in the organization as a strategic — and indispensable — partner.