Expert Round-Up: How Can HR Pros Be Seen as More Strategic?
Expert Round-Up: How Can HR Pros Be Seen as More Strategic?

Expert Round-Up: How Can HR Pros Be Seen as More Strategic?

Human resource professionals today are feeling the pressure to be more strategic. Many organizations still treat HR as a transactional, tactical department that does not add much value, yet HR has a lot of expertise to offer. How can HR professionals take their places at the executive table? We polled a few HR experts for their insights.

Susan Heathfield, Author of HumanResources.about.com

The first step HR professionals can take to be seen as strategic is to develop greater business acumen, or learning to talk the talk. “They need to be able to tie recommendations, people programs, and recognition (including pay) to the goals of the business,” says Susan. “They need to be able to talk in language that other company leaders use when they make recommendations.”
HR professionals have much to contribute about issues such as increasing employee productivity, contribution and engagement—but they must explain why it matters to the business and how it can be achieved.

Suzanne Lucas, Author of the Evil HR Lady blog

For Suzanne, it all comes down to talent. She puts it simply: “Good people make good businesses.” For HR to truly become more strategic, they need to put time and energy towards bringing great people into the organization, keeping them there and developing their potential.

Allison Flynn, Organizational Development Specialist at Paycor

Allison recommends that HR take on the role of the advisor. She suggests that HR pros “ask probing questions and get your business partners thinking about how their business decisions will impact the actual people in the roles.”

She also strongly believes in tying numbers to the big picture. “Present the HR metrics and the impact of those metrics,” she recommends. “Help your business understand the ‘why’ behind the metrics. How do the people metrics tie to the business metrics? For example, how does turnover affect customer satisfaction?”

Erik Smetana, Author of the HR Field Guide blog

According to Erik, HR professionals are often perceived as not liking or understanding data. His advice is to: “Disrupt that way of thinking by developing HR analytics and systems that not only support your organization's operations but help to drive its strategy.” He encourages HR to embrace the Big Data trend by recognizing that “you can't have strong predictive analytics if you're not owning foundational items like metrics and benchmarking.”

Erik urges HR professionals to align their goals with the goals of the business. “Your toolbox should match what you want to build!” For instance, if the company’s goal is to be best-in-class, HR must embrace the technology they need to get there. “Great organizations need great HR leaders in tune with technology and how that technology can reduce transactions and build value.”

Lastly, Erik believes the HR profession is trending towards human capital management. As such, he claims that “It's not enough for HR to call itself a business partner; it needs to look at its processes, systems, ways of thinking, and where it rests in the organization in order to not just add value, but create value.”

Crowdsourced from Senior HR Business Leaders at Paycor:

To be a strategic partner, HR professionals must first learn the business. HR leaders at Paycor believe these are the key questions:

  • How is success measured?
  • How does it make money?
  • How do the business units work together and/or rely on one another?
  • What are the challenges?
  • How does the external market impact internal decisions and
  • strategy?
  • What are the critical positions?
  • How do they impact the bottom line?

Next, HR professionals should focus on building relationships throughout the business, again asking themselves a series of questions:

  • What's important to leaders?
  • What's going well for managers/leaders and associates?
  • What are their challenges?
  • How do they make decisions and why?

Lastly, HR pros must seek to understand, form a point of view and be able to suggest solutions. By being able to answer all of the questions above, HR starts to form answers and get an understanding for how to drive the organization forward.


Looking for more tips on becoming more strategic and making a bigger impact on your organization? Check out our whitepaper, The HR Pro’s Guide: 5 Ways to Make an Impact at Work. Also be sure to check out our HR Center of Excellence for more information on strategies you can use to recruit, manage labor costs, and improve the employee experience.


Being a featured expert in this post does not necessarily represent an endorsement of Paycor and our products. This content is provided for informational purposes only.

More to Discover

Leave of Absence Policy and Acceptance Letter Template

Leave of Absence Policy and Acceptance Letter Template

Every business needs a leave of absence policy that clearly lays out how employees can apply for time away from work, and what the terms of this leave will be. There are many reasons an employee may require a leave of absence from work and while employers usually have the right to reject a request, it’s almost always the right call to allow employees to take leave.The distress and uncertainty caused by COVID-19 has only made it more important that businesses take an understanding approach to employee welfare, even if they are not eligible for FMLA leave. Whatever the reason an employee needs some time away from work, it’s important that, when accepting such a request, employers lay out exactly what it means for an employee’s status in...

Webinar: Post COVID-19: Reimagining the Future of Work

Webinar: Post COVID-19: Reimagining the Future of Work

Join us for a special roundtable discussion on what the future holds for HR leaders post COVID-19 featuring HR experts Jennifer McClure, Jon Thurmond, Wendy Dailey and Joey Price. They will discuss a variety of topics including how to navigate this new normal, new challenges facing HR leaders, personal experiences on motivating employees and keeping engagement strong and much more.

Webinar: How to Tackle HR with a Team of One

Webinar: How to Tackle HR with a Team of One

The way business leaders manage HR at their organization now can cripple or jumpstart long-term growth for their business. Watch now to discover tips and tricks on managing compliance, recruiting, performance management, training and HR technology. Register now! Speaker: Lori Kleiman Lori Kleiman is a business expert with more than 25 years of experience advising companies on HR issues. Her background as a human resources professional and consultant gives her unique insight on how HR professionals and executives can work together effectively to achieve business goals. Her programs are designed to provide critical HR updates and best practices to small businesses.

Why HR Technology Matters Now More than Ever

Why HR Technology Matters Now More than Ever

When a crisis hits, the right HR technology gives business leaders the data, tools and support they need to make important decisions quickly. In this report, Josh Bersin breaks down the four key benefits of HR technology and demonstrates through case studies how leaders can leverage it to solve problems and grow.