Generating New Value for Business: Four Key Steps That HR Can Take

I get a lot of studies and research cross my desk or drop into my email, and a large percentage of them are the type that generate news and a headline today, but perhaps not as much long term insight for tomorrow.

That’s why this current study from Constellation Research is different. Titled “Helping HR Bridge the Business Divide: Four Ways to Generate New Value For Business,” it digs into what human resource professionals can do to help “bring significant business value to their business constituents.”

I don’t know about you, but that line certainly got my attention.

The report goes on to say that, “There are several obstacles that need to be overcome. This best practices report lays out the opportunities for HR to bring value to the business as well as a practical path forward.”

An opportunity for HR as “vital business advisors”

There’s a lot to dig into in this research — and it is extremely thoughtful and full of smart insights — but’s here’s the gist of it, from the executive summary:

Human Resource (HR) organizations over the past decade have had considerable success in delivering improved efficiency – and sometimes effectiveness – within the HR function and HR business systems. However, HR has had less success delivering clear, definable value directly to business leaders.

In the next few years, HR organizations have an unprecedented opportunity to put themselves on the map as vital business advisors, addressing critical people-oriented issues that affect company performance. By taking four (4) key steps, HR leaders can position themselves to deliver direct business value by:

  1. Bringing insight to investment decisions;
  2. Building future value through today’s forums;
  3. Bridging the people visibility gap; (and),
  4. Removing barriers and optimize performance.

Changing course to deliver business value more directly will have the biggest impact on the HR business partners. HR leaders will need to bolster this role with the right skills, tools, and processes to successfully bridge the current divide.”

A need to “be valuable to business leaders directly”

If you follow much of Dr. John Sullivan has been saying here in his TLNT video series, then this survey is for you because it gets into how HR really hasn’t done a good job of making business more effective. It says:

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In order for HR to truly demonstrate strategic value, it needs to be valuable to business leaders directly. HR has put less effort in this area, and achieved fewer results. In a recent Mercer survey, 500 HR directors across Europe, Asia, and the Middle East identified just 15 percent of their activities as strategic interventions. These findings echo a previous study conducted by Deloitte and The Economist Intelligence Unit in which fewer than 16 percent of HR leaders believed HR was highly valued by senior business executives.”

But please don’t think that this research is simply another “let’s bash HR”-type of report. Although it does spell out HR’s shortcomings in helping build a business (in a very frank and straightforward way), it also clearly defines why HR and business leaders need each other, and, the very positive things that HR brings to the table.

I won’t recap the entire research summary here, but you will surely get some value from spending time with it. In fact, one of the recommendations from Constellation principal research analyst and vice president Amy Wilson (the author of the report) is something that Dr. John Sullivan said in his latest TLNT video — that HR business partners must transform themselves into strategic advisors.

As Wilson put it in the executive summary:  “Changing course to deliver business value more directly will have the biggest impact on the HR business partners. HR leaders will need to bolster this role with the right skills, tools, and processes to successfully bridge the current divide.”

If you want to bridge “the current divide,” take a look at this Constellation research (you need to pay for the full report, but here are highlights and a webcast on it from the analyst), because it gives some great thinking and insight on how you can do that to the benefit of both yourself, and, your business as well.

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.

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2 Comments on “Generating New Value for Business: Four Key Steps That HR Can Take

  1. Congratulations on the report launch Amy! The 4 Key Steps
    are well stated, but my favorite has to be number one. Bringing insight to investment
    decisions! This step will require a real focus on HR analytics and solid
    workforce planning.

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