Having moved from strictly administrative functioning toward a more strategic role long before the pandemic began, a strategic HR plan is increasingly regarded as a powerful factor in a company’s success.
Indeed, leaders have been driven to depend on and value HR guidance more than ever before.
HR no longer owns just the transactional and compliance-focused activities of organizations, but has stretched to take greater responsibility for:
- Employee experience and wellbeing
- Company culture
- Emotionally intelligent management
- Diversity, equity and inclusion
- Data-driven insight
In other words, as business climates and regulations continually evolve, so do HR best practices. Effective leaders must be thinking about their strategic HR plan in relation to the future of their businesses.
To get your employees and organization ready for whatever lies ahead, there are six important strategy questions you need to ask and discuss with your HR team.
1. How is the concept of being employed at our organization changing?
Consider how the pandemic impacted what your workplace looks and feels like to your employees. Depending on your unique situation, their worksites may have shifted from completely in-office to totally remote, or perhaps there’s a new balance between the two. And maybe your workplace is different for them because methods of interacting with your customers have changed.
Related questions to ask include:
- How do you predict these factors will continue to evolve?
- If your competitors handle things differently (and perhaps more successfully), will you follow?
- Which pieces of your customer and employee experience must be held firmly?
- How can you ensure that your employees trust the work environment you provide?
2. What will be our company culture’s biggest influences in the future?
Organizational culture development must continue – even if you have fewer opportunities to model your values using former methods.
With your HR team, explore how you can proactively shape your company culture in new ways amid a changing workplace.
Ask the following questions:
- How will you communicate what matters most to the company?
- How can you encourage employees to bring those values into their interactions with customers and each other?
Specifically, you may need an updated plan for how you’ll bring your culture and values into any new recruiting, hiring, onboarding and training practices. And you may need to find ways to continuously translate employee perks, rewards, events and rituals into meaningful virtual contexts.
3. How can we make adapting to new employer regulations seamless for our people?
Not only do you need to continue to stay informed about legislation affecting employers – which has been more fluid since the pandemic began – but you should also prioritize making any changes as smooth as possible for your employees.
That may mean accelerating and tightening the process that happens between HR notifying you of relevant regulatory changes and communicating the necessary updates to all employees.
Doing so can help give your managers and workforce more time to absorb the information and get acclimated to new policies or procedures, which is helpful from a change management perspective.
Related questions to ask include:
- How can your leadership team improve the way significant regulatory updates are received, addressed and communicated internally?
- How would making these changes impact your managers and people?
4. How can we leverage our HR information to become more proactive?
People analytics is becoming a major part of HR’s strategic role in organizations. Leaders who are focusing on this data-driven HR insight and taking action when it points to new solutions will be ahead of their competitors in the future.
Ask your HR team for regular snapshots and predictions from your HCM system. Pay close attention to areas such as employee turnover, retention, attrition, diversity and equity. Challenge them to connect the insights they uncover to your company’s bottom line.
Then, commit to looking at your people analytics objectively and incorporating it into your HR strategic plan. Let both your instincts and the metrics be your guide as you make people-related business decisions.
5. How will we retain institutional knowledge?
It’s important to identify where your company is most vulnerable to institutional knowledge drain (a.k.a. “brain drain”) in the future.
For example, do you have a significant number of tenured employees who could retire from their posts around the same time? Are your people analytics predicting another significant turnover event due to other factors (e.g., a desire for remote work, employment opportunities with competitors)?
There are steps you can take now to improve your future position as an organization.
- Develop and discuss your succession plan with your leadership team and ensure future leaders have been clearly identified.
- Create internal processes for regularly capturing your institutional knowledge.
- Keep current employees more engaged with personal and professional development opportunities.
- Explore mentoring options.
6. How will we uncover and respond to evolving employee expectations?
Companies that value their employees’ opinions and create a culture of continuous listening will also have an advantage in the future. These companies regularly solicit feedback from their people using surveys and focus groups with the goal of getting deeper insight into specific HR concerns and uncovering workable solutions.
Combined with instinct and human capital analytics, employee feedback can be a transformative strategic tool, as long as leaders uphold trust by responding to feedback as transparently and promptly as possible.
Related questions to ask include:
- How can you improve and expand any employee surveys you are currently conducting?
- What strategic goals can you get closer to by leveraging employee feedback?
- How will you ensure your employees know you value their thoughts and expectations?
Your long-term HR strategic plan
How will you move forward with the human capital management strategies that matter most to your organization right now and in the future?
Many organizations combine the use of HR outsourcing and technology to streamline the high-volume, tactical aspects of human capital management. This gives their leaders and internal HR teams the time and support needed to give their higher-order people strategy concerns the focused attention they require.
To learn more about how HR outsourcing can help your HR team expand beyond its traditional role to help your company reach its goals, download our free e-book: HR outsourcing: An essential guide for middle market businesses.