Will HR ever be welcomed at the top table?

Written by
Nicola McQueen

15 Mar 2016

15 Mar 2016 • by Nicola McQueen

Seeing the big picture

It is often the case that companies are caught up in the everyday management of talent and ticking boxes, not giving themselves enough time to sit down and re-think their goals. 

Something needs to change. Although some companies are moving towards developing their workforce planning capability, only a few have created an articulate strategy to fit their workforce needs. 

It is imperative for HR teams to work closer with C-suite executives to discuss their approach to HR and resourcing and what they can do to attract and retain the right talent. After all, hiring the right personnel can help a company get that competitive advantage and ultimately impact business performance and growth. 

Whats stopping HR from reaching the top?

It is rare to have previously found HR in the boardroom mainly because of traditional business culture, whereby CEOs, COOs and CFOs alike are deemed to be the most appropriate positions to make board-level decisions. However, we are slowly seeing an increasing number of larger companies change this as they begin to recognise the value of HR to executive processes. 

In fact, the arrival of new business functions such as big data, talent management and workforce planning, which are owned by HR departments but are yet to be fully embraced by most corporate teams, is a great opportunity for HR teams to share valuable insights with the wider business. However, any executive discussions around these, and in regards to HR in the boardroom, have been fragmentary thus far.

In order to secure a place at the top table, HR departments need to be able show how these people strategies affect the very core of business. 

Using big data for a big advantage:

Over the past year, big data has become a big topic in HR news and, according to our recent Workforce Horizons report, it is now commonly believed to be the best way to predict HR capacity and recruitment needs. However, a number of HR personnel are struggling to cope with the amount of data on their hands and without the necessary analytical skills, are unable to analyse this data succinctly.

Nevertheless, HR professionals must quickly get to grips with big data as it is a great opportunity to back up the work they are doing with technical evidence. The key is to pick out relevant data that can add true worth and understanding, and use it to come up with tailored solutions to specific issues, ultimately improving the business bottom line and showing the board how important the voice and knowledge of HR is. 

Schmooze your way to the top

Getting to know and comprehend the way other departments work can help HR teams better manage the host of company data that they’re working with. In particular, gaining an understanding of the varied resourcing challenges faced by the different parts of the business can help HR effectively segment and categorise department data. Doing this will allow for a more tailored approach and help meet unique needs around specific employees. In order to cement that position in the boardroom, HR professionals must endeavour to win over other influential leaders in the business, such as department heads – not just the CEO – and the board will soon follow.

Ditch the jargon

Using complicated terminology which other functions of the business may not be able to understand isn’t doing HR any favours. Instead, HR teams need to ensure that they’re speaking the same language as C-suite executives is absolutely necessary if HR wants to secure its seat at the top table. 

It’s inevitable that resourcing will eventually become a regular presence in the boardroom for companies of all sizes and in all sectors, but it’s difficult to predict how far off this will be. However, for those HR professionals determined to secure the top talent and streamline strategic resourcing, cementing their place at the top table is not a question of if, but when.