There’s regular conversation about the need for human resources to be more strategic. And, the discussion usually mentions that HR needs to learn the business and numbers. Totally true. Successful HR pros understand their industry, company, as well as their role.
However, I came across a report recently that might offer some insight why this is such a tough transition for HR. Harvard Business review published a report called “The Changing Role of the CHRO.” Frankly, while it speaks in terms of the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO), I can see it applying to other human resources roles. The summary of findings was particularly interesting.
No surprise. Seventy-five percent (75%) of companies surveyed said the number one challenge for CHROs is attracting, developing and retaining talent. This hasn’t changed in over a decade. Survey after survey reaffirm that talent is a key differentiator in business.
What did surprise me was that companies are equally split about the role of human resources. Some feel HR should focus on aligning business and talent strategy. Others feel that HR needs to maintain compliance, compensation and benefits, etc. What struck me about this finding is, if companies are struggling to define HR’s role…then you can imagine how HR feels. And the challenges of trying to be all things to all people.
That being said, another non-surprise to me was that analytical skills are the biggest challenge for HR. Regardless of whether senior management wants HR to maintain compliance or align strategy, human resources professionals need to possess strong analytical skills.
But, here’s the clincher. Thirty-four percent (34%) of companies said they’ve done nothing to help HR get any better at analytical skills. This includes not making technology investments to help HR gather the data to make the necessary analytical decisions.
This is the equivalent of telling a new hire employee that you want them to do a task and not giving them the training, coaching, etc. so they can be successful. Then telling them during their annual performance review that they’re not meeting the company standard. We don’t do that to employees, so why do it to HR?!
Organizations that want human resources to be more strategic, need to 1) set the expectation with HR, 2) give them the training and technology tools necessary, and finally 3) hold them accountable. Based upon the statistic that 75 percent of organizations feel talent is the number one priority, I’d like to think that companies really want HR to deliver on this. And in a big way.
When it comes to talent, I’ve never had a CEO tell me, “Well, just get us a couple of average employees. Don’t work too hard on it.” Organizations want the best talent. This means HR needs to be strategic and analytical in their approach. It makes no sense for companies to ask HR to deliver then tie their hands. Give the HR function the support, resources and tools they need to be successful. The business – and bottom line – will benefit from it.2