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

5 Tips for Developing Company and Employee Objectives

5 Tips for Developing Company and Employee Objectives

If you’ve ever Googled “What’s an OKR?” you’re not alone. OKRs mean objectives and key results and they’re becoming a very popular way for business leaders to get everyone on the same page. By making your organization’s OKRs visible and transparent, employees get a better sense of how they can contribute. And the more they understand the overall impact they make, the more engaged they’ll be.But setting organizational objectives isn’t easy. You have to take into consideration internal factors such as financial resources and human capital as well as external factors such as competitors, demand for the products, and the economy. You’ll also want to encourage employees to set their individual objectives by aligning their contributions to the...

TECH+ 2021: Executive Summary

TECH+ 2021: Executive Summary

Paycor hosted TECH+, our annual national partner conference on Feb 1st and 2nd and this year, the event was virtual. As always, TECH+ brought together benefits brokers, financial advisors and HR consultants for two days of learning, insights and strategies designed to improve business development and client retention. View the sessions on-demand, here.Here are 11 key takeaways: #1: Transparency, Technology and Data Analytics are Transforming Employee Benefits Benefits teams are in the spotlight now that American business is undergoing a “revolution in caring.” Business leaders are focused on making improvements: 61% focused on improving health and well being 55% focused on improving employee satisfaction and engagement 49% focused on...

Case Study: Midwest Security Services

Case Study: Midwest Security Services

Midwest Security Services needed an HCM company who could provide accurate payroll and tax withholdings. They chose Paycor. “The experience of using Paycor’s payroll is clean and easy—and that’s something I need. There’s a lot more follow-up and communication. If I have a request for a new garnishment or there’s a change, I get emails at every step of the way from Paycor. I don’t have to wonder if something was taken care of because I receive confirmation notices. It’s great.” - Shelly Mize, head of HR, Midwest Security Services Prior to Paycor Based in Kettering, Ohio, Midwest Security Services develops security solutions for schools, hospitals and corporations including video surveillance, access control systems, fire alarm and...

Case Study: Ruthmere

Case Study: Ruthmere

Paycor is a trusted partner that helps Ruthmere eliminate payroll errors and track employee hours. “With our previous provider we had to collect timecards and upload them to the payroll system. One whole day (each pay period) was eaten up just trying to do payroll. With Paycor the entire process only takes 5 minutes.” - Jennifer Johns, Curator Prior to Paycor As the Curator of a nonprofit with fewer than 10 employees, Jennifer Johns wears many hats, HR included. Unfortunately—with their previous provider—Jennifer had to manually enter employee information into the system multiple times. In addition, the system didn’t offer an easy way to track PTO. As a result, Jennifer had to approve PTO requests through email.To make matters worse,...