People are at the top of the agenda in many a company with the war for talent intensifying in many business sectors. “It is crucial for the Human Resources (HR) department to recognize the value that it brings in terms of helping the business to compete in finding the right talent, “says Anja Hartman, HR Director for Softline VIP, part of the Sage Group Plc.

The future of HR however depends on its business presence. “You need to have the mindset of a business role-player fi­rst and then an HR professional to understand the contribution that HR can make to the bigger picture. It boils down to how well you really know your business and who your clients are, be it employees, line managers, external clients or even investors. Ask yourself the following questions to establish whether you understand your business,” urges Hartman.

  • What are the top three priorities and concerns of your business leaders?
  • Who is your biggest client and why do they use your service or product?
  • Which product/service is the most portable, and why?
  • What emerging technology trends can influence your business?
  • What socio-economic or political trends might be disruptive to your industry?
  • What is the company’s operating margin?
  • What was the revenue and profi­t for the previous fi­nancial year?

“If you are familiar with the needs of the business, your HR practices will reflect that knowledge,” says Hartman. The answers to the above questions can help the HR practitioner achieve business objectives through informed HR decisions.

There are many ways in which HR practices can support business performance. “The principles and philosophies that you implement as an HR professional affect the workplace, the value chain, the company’s value proposition, as well as the technology that the company uses. The people represent the company’s image and its ability to adequately deliver its service or product and it is ultimately your responsibility to shape that image and to align it with the business needs,” explains Hartman. “The broader HR mandate far exceeds the mere administration of HR technology and policies alone. “The focus has moved towards the management of talent which includes recruitment, training and development, performance management, talent assessment and succession planning. As far as the organization is concerned, HR practices will shape the business structure, rewards, internal communication and process design, “she says.

Hartman says it is crucial that the organization’s HR strategy underscores that of the business. “HR goals need to be consistent with that of the company’s and need to be designed to make the business strategy happen. Likewise, HR also needs buy-in from management to mobilize its strategy.”

“It is therefore necessary to focus on building relationships of trust. “To make an impact in the business the HR professional needs to be confi­dent, have a commercial point of view, be able to speak candidly and influence others. A positive investment in their own personal growth will help any HR professional in this regard,” Hartman explains.

“Key elements to focus on are to create a business presence, to learn the language of your business and to continue with an HR mindset. The ultimate goal is to empower your people and to focus on business results as these are lifelines that keep your business alive.”

by Anja Hartman


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