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4 ways to develop a more proactive HR function

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Human resources has become a more strategic player in organisations, but there are still times when HR responds reactively to situations, making it difficult for them to keep up with business challenges, particularly in high growth markets.

Through responses collated from 30 countries over two years, Organisation Solution’s latest Talent Practices for Growth Markets report found 70% of HR functions insist on being reactive.

This means they spend more time “fighting fires and delivering day-to-day operational work” than focusing on future business needs and strategies.

Companies surveyed which did invest time in addressing future business needs and strategies were found to have lower turnover rates, better capabilities and were more likely to hire from within.

“Almost all companies in our study had core leadership training and key talent programmes. The best performing companies were more strategic in how they implemented these practices,” Dr. James Eyring, COO of Organisation Solutions, said.

“They were better at gearing core leadership training to local market needs and developed their key talent through programmes with real world experience.”

The report provided leaders with four tips for creating a proactive HR function:

1. Rely on evidence
Build your practices based on evidence of what works, not on what is currently popular or at the request of a manager. This evidence-based stance takes professional expertise in understanding what practices work and personal discipline in resisting calls to do things that are popular but ineffective.

2. Cut back on practices that are less important
HR needs to focus their limited resources on what gives the biggest “bang for the buck.” Again, this takes an understanding of what is most important in your particular business and the discipline to shift resources to where they have the most leverage even if this means cutting back on well-liked programmes.

3. Educate senior leaders to elevate issues globally
Sometimes, global policies or talent practices might hamper your company’s ability to reach its growth objectives. In a large organisation, managers sometimes think, “That is just the way it is” and are not aware of how important it is to elevate the local talent issues for consideration at the corporate level. HR needs to educate leaders about which talent issues are critical and encourage them to raise the issues with the corporate office so that the organisation can find a solution.

4. Ensure HR’s own talent is up to the task
Having a strategic or proactive HR department requires talented and experienced HR professionals. In some countries, the staff might be too small to develop appropriate talent processes. In this case, ask for more support from regional or global HR. In the absence of that support, it will be difficult for a company to attract and retain the business talent needed to attain high growth.

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