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HR strategy examples - What makes a successful HR strategy?

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 — August 2nd, 2021

HR strategy examples - What makes a successful HR strategy?

Long gone are the days when the Human Resources department focused solely on recruiting employees. HR has become an invaluable resource itself, working hand in hand with top-level management to create a cohesive, organization-wide strategy.

The strategic importance of HR cannot be underestimated. Its role as the liaison between employees and the organization is a vital one, especially given the highly competitive nature of the workplace today.

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We've written previously about how human resource planning has become an integral part of an organization's strategy, and that's true, the four-step HR plan of assessing HR capacity, forecasting future requirements, identifying gaps, and integrating the plan with the organization's strategy is vital to the success of any organization.

Being able to compete effectively depends heavily on an organization's ability to adapt and respond to the market. And this is where a formal HR plan earns its stripes.


What is strategic HRM?

HR is a wide remit, covering an organization's key asset, its employees. Within that remit, there are core areas that, together, work to build a successful HR strategy.

Hiring the right people: selective recruitment has arguably never been more important. Hiring top talent gives an organization a distinct competitive advantage. In today's incredibly competitive business landscape the right people can make a significant impact on critical projects and overall business strategy.

Creating effective teams: wrapped around hiring the right people is understanding how people will fit into already existing teams. A good HR department will have insight into the workings of specific teams and will understand not only the roles they need to fill but also the type of person who would make a team more effective.

Fair and performance-based compensation: a key tool in recruiting and retaining top talent is an organization's compensation package. Developing a competitive, fair, and performance-based package is a crucial part of any successful HR strategy.

Ongoing training and skills development: together with a compensation package, ongoing training, and skills development are proving to be a key differentiator when attracting top talent. Almost 60% of millennials say opportunities to learn and grow are extremely important to them when applying for a job.

Creating an effective skills development program could be the difference between a loyal, talented workforce and ongoing employee churn.

Ensuring security for all employees: at a basic level, a HR department's role in ensuring the security and wellbeing of an organization's employees. This works in many ways including delivering a safe and fair workplace, being an impartial intermediary in any workplace disputes, and ensuring all staff understands specific workplace guidelines around acceptable behavior.

Creating a diverse and equal workplace: equality and diversity have firmly entered the realm of the boardroom. For an organization to be successful in today's business landscape it needs to embrace this ethos and ensure it filters throughout the entire organization from the top down.

This is where a HR strategy plays an important role, particularly in identifying and filling specific workforce gaps and creating an open and equal work environment through workshops and accessibility training.

Making information easily accessible to those who need it: information is the fuel for the efficient running of an organization. Ensuring everyone has access to the core information they need when they need it is an important part of a good HR strategy. Today's HR leaders also need to be cognizant of the different requirements of their workforce and make sure that all information is accessible to everyone.

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Why HR strategic planning is so important

We've mentioned how important recruitment and retention are to the competitiveness of an organization. Let's delve a little deeper into what is one of the main facets of an efficient HR strategy – workforce planning. Thorough and effective workforce planning delivers clear benefits.


Be prepared for the future

Workforce planning ensures managers have the information and tools they need to mitigate talent risk long before it can affect an organization’s objectives. Equipped with this data they can see if key employees are planning on retiring imminently and if so how will that impact the business; they will be more aware of employee churn and how it affects each department, and more importantly how they can implement a process to ensure business continuity.

Ultimately, the information allows businesses to have the right talent in place so they can plan better and achieve specific organizational goals.

Reduce hiring costs

It's important for an organization to understand exactly how many people it needs together to maintain the productivity levels necessary to run and grow the business. Armed with this information an organization can optimize the workforce it has, which in turn will help to reduce recruitment costs while at the same time ensure that the business is running effectively.

Streamline your recruitment processes

By identifying the traits of high performers in your workforce HR can isolate specific hiring criteria designed to recruit candidates best suited for your business culture and its goals. This will naturally lead to a better interview-to-hire rate, an employee retention rate, reduce the recruitment process, and cut recruitment costs.

Inform development programs

Workforce planning can help to define employees or groups of employees that deliver a high return on investment for the business and therefore which groups may merit more training and development investment.

On the flip side, workforce planning can highlight areas that may need extra resources so that they can contribute more to the business.

Identify talent gaps

In an ideal environment where HR and business goals are aligned, it is easier to forecast the hires you may need to make in the long term to fuel ongoing expansion. Workforce planning also means you can recognize any existing gaps in your workforce.

Aid retention strategy

With strategic workforce planning, HR can make use of predictive analytics to better categorize top performers and people in key roles, who may be considering leaving the organization. With that knowledge, the team can develop an effective retention strategy that will help to minimize that risk and will work to keep top talent at your organization.


What are the best HR strategies?

On a broader level, a successful HR strategy can often set the tone for the way an organization operates and how it is viewed by the world. And that's important for today's job hunters who are often swayed by an organization's culture and its impact on the world around them.

There are many different types of HR strategies, but at their heart, they all start with the same foundation: to create a work environment that's synonymous with engaged, productive, and loyal staff.

Every organization is different and will be staffed by employees from different backgrounds, sectors, goals, ambitions, etc. The key to a successful HR strategy is to identify what unifies and motivates employees and to develop a strategic plan around that understanding. Think about conducting a regular survey where you ask what motivates employees and ask them to rank a series of options in order of importance to them.

Let's look at some of the tools available to HR departments when developing their strategic plan?

  • Competitive salaries
  • Enviable benefits packages
  • Promotion opportunities
  • Continuous staff training and development
  • Transparent and regular communications
  • Focus on employee wellbeing
  • Investment in corporate social responsibility
  • Employee autonomy
  • Open-door policy
  • Freedom to be creative
  • Enhanced hiring practices

In today's competitive jobs market, attractive salaries and job perks are commonplace. Large technology multinationals arguably set the tone for often eye-watering benefits packages and other organizations were forced to keep up.

However, with these types of benefits now de rigueur, employees are looking beyond how much a company can pay them, and what a company stands for has become an important part of the story.

It is here where a successful HR strategy comes into its own. The most successful HR departments at the most successful organizations, while all focusing on their people, differ in the ways in which they cement their reputation for innovative HR strategies.

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Examples of successful HR strategies

Across the many 'Best Places to Work' lists (like Glassdoor for example) many of the usual suspects reign supreme – such as Google and LinkedIn. These organizations boast HR strategies that are recognized internationally as being innovative.

And while many of the stalwarts on these lists are high-tech firms, it's heartening to see organizations that have been around for decades making waves in the HR sector.

Organizations like Nissan, which have developed an HR concept it calls 'kaizen'. Kaizen empowers the Nissan workforce to continually improve the way a job is done. This is coupled with an emphasis on providing managers with the autonomy to recruit and build their own teams.

Alliance Boots (parent company of the Boots chain) also shines for its promotion of community outreach programs for employees. In fact, Alliance Boots was the first organization of its kind that offered formal accreditation to employees for their work in the community.

Another interesting example is BT, a juggernaut of a telecoms company, which even during the economic crash continued to retain, train and redeploy its existing staff. Its focus on its employees has earned it a reputation for loyalty that is matched by its employees.

Mayo Clinic, which consistently features on Forbes 100 Best Companies to Work For, has worked to create a dynamic team. This is supported by strong management, consistent internal communications, and ongoing training and development.

These are just four examples of successful HR strategies that make their organizations stand out. Human Resources MBA has compiled a fascinating list of 30 innovative corporate HR departments that provide food for thought for any HR professional.

What's interesting about these examples, is that while all four have a different focus, the thread of understanding what your employees are motivated by runs through them all.


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