How Can Companies Raise the Bar on HR Programs?

As HR takes on a more strategic role in the organization, the pressure to bridge the gap between people program outcomes and business goals also mounts. So how can HR professionals design program that deliver maximum impact on business?

How Can Companies Raise the Bar on HR Programs?

8 Oct 2017 by  Abishek Mahadevan

In recent times, there has been growing awareness of the profound impact that HR programs have on an organization’s ability to achieve business objectives. As a result, HR must take on a more strategic—rather than transactional—role in order to bridge the gap between people program outcomes and business goals.
Yet, despite the strategic importance of these initiatives, which can typically vary from the implementation of new service delivery models and innovative HR processes, to the outsourcing non-core activities, organizations still struggle to realize the maximum value of their HR programs. In our recent State of HR Transformation study, only 12% of surveyed organizations were satisfied with their business, talent strategy and program design.  The challenge most organizations need to address is the effective ‘contextualization’ of HR programs, to best meet their needs. 

How can HR programs deliver maximum impact on business?

In our experience of delivering HR programs for organizations across the region, there are three aspects that hold the key to enhancing impact and driving effectiveness:

1. HR Program Design
To set the fundamental building block of an effective HR program, inter-disciplinary linkages between different areas need to be established, based on the organization’s maturity and operating environment. The challenge for HR is to ensure all its programs have high levels of integration and synergy among them—ensuring that process gaps and isolations are addressed. For example, in reviewing a performance management system, how would it align with your rewards philosophy? And how would it integrate with learning and development opportunities?

2. HR Internal Capability
The sets of skills required to effectively deliver HR programs to the business requires a different set of knowledge and competencies, which are broader than one functional HR area.  Critical questions to answer include: Does the HR function have talent with the right diversity of skill sets? Is there clearly defined accountability between the roles for the Centers of Excellence and HR Business Partners? Are the right technologies in place to support the HR team in delivery?

3. HR-Business Partnership
Implementation remains critical to achieving the desired success parameters, and even a well-designed HR program is unlikely to succeed if HR and line managers are not on the same page throughout the design and roll-out of an HR initiative. The best way around this is to leverage HR Business Partners, in order to create an effective delivery channel and consistently monitor the outcomes in implementation. 

What can HR do to strengthen relationship with business?

We have observed three areas that organizations can address with a view to develop their HR-Business interaction further:

  • Joint planning and implementation: Building a case for HR programs requires a clear understanding of the impact it has on business. Involving business leaders in the planning processes and governance will bring an alignment ensuing business buy-in and support through implementation.  Committees to oversee the design and implementation aspects of HR programs can be quite helpful.  

  • Developing Business Skills:  The paradox for most organizations is that HR spends more time and effort on developing other functions, and often neglects their own team members. Organizations must strategically invest their time and money to ensure HR are provided the opportunity to develop additional skills efforts—focusing on business acumen, industry knowledge, and command of the internal business practices.  

  • HR operational and business metrics: High-impact HR organizations have evolved their measurement strategies to ensure efficiency, effectiveness and business alignment. For example, technology giant Google has developed a mathematical retention algorithm to proactively predict employees are most likely to leave, and putting measures to safeguard against this. At the heart of this is the ability to measure and monitor what matters. 

There is more to designing successful HR interventions than a robust design, or an innovative technical solution.  A joined-up approach with the business, asking the right questions, and having a broader outlook for business needs is likely to lead to a more successful, fit-for-purpose output.

Abishek Mahadevan

Abhishek is a consultant with over 8+ years of experience in delivering HR solutions to clients in India and the Middle East. He is based in Aon’s Dubai office, manages projects in areas such as Integrated Talent Management including competency articulation, high potential management, succession planning, career management, and talent assessments. Abhishek enjoys leveraging his consulting expertise for the design and implementation of psychometric and behavioral solutions for talent management initiatives across industries.

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Abishek Mahadevan
Dubai, UAE
Mina Morris
Dubai, UAE