How to Implement a Human Resource Strategy

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Human resource strategies are methods of planning your approach for handling your company’s most valuable asset: your employees. A good HR strategy aims to integrate employees into your company culture and to set rules for those employees to follow. Your HR strategy must keep your organization’s values and mission in mind at all times and steer your company in those directions.

Importance of a Human Resource Strategy

HR is essential to an organization. In fact, United States law states that if you have more than 40 full-time employees, you must have an HR department. This department handles everything from sensitive paperwork about employees to settling arguments over the copier. Logically, this means that the more substantial and more complex your business, the larger and more complex your human resources department needs to be.

Coming up with HR strategies when you’re starting your company is ideal. However, there are some scenarios that might necessitate a new strategy or pivot in company culture. Regardless of why you are going to implement a new human resources department strategy, the steps that you should take remain the same. Remember that this is one department that will have a major impact on how your employees feel about you.

Implementation of HR Strategy

There are eight parts to an effective HR strategy. That said, a two-pronged approach is always needed when you are dealing with human resources: your company values and the way you want your employees to feel about their jobs. This second part is as vital as the job that you do. Your goal is to find the sweet spot between running a viable business and keeping your staff happy.

1. Aligning HR Needs With Business Practices

This first aspect of a great HR strategy is essential and may require the help of management. You will need to find the sweet spot between your business needs and employee satisfaction. Unfortunately, this is where many HR departments find the most friction. Human resource specialists are responsible for making sure that your business complies with the laws of your state along with federal regulations while also ensuring maintenance of the status quo in the workplace.

This may mean that HR will have the final say in some issues, which can cause employees to wonder if HR is out of touch with how the business should be run. The opposite can also be true if your HR department is too rigid about following your corporate policies. You must hire competent HR professionals who will be able to make difficult calls based on specific scenarios that arise.

2. Use Regular Check-Ins

To best utilize your HR department, your human resource strategy should involve touching base with them on a regular schedule. Depending on the size of your company, this schedule may be monthly or quarterly. During your meetings, you should go over company policies to find out if there are some policies that you have set that are not working for your business. Typically, these policies are related to the company culture.

For example, dress codes are tending to relax as time goes on. If your area has healthy competition in regard to pay and benefits, you may lose the best employees to the competition over something that seems as trivial as a dress code. Find out what isn’t working and adjust your HR strategy accordingly.

3. HR Strategy Development

Keeping open communication within your company can alert you to many different problems within your business model. Excellent communication is also a way for you to learn if there are opportunities to make your company more effective and the lives of your employees more enjoyable.

There are times that companies do not focus on continual training and development of their human resources department. By not focusing on their constant growth, you may miss out on keeping them abreast of new HR interventions and other relevant legal changes within the industry.

A competent human resource strategy has to be agile and able to change with the times. New tools for employee management are frequently released, and understanding this technology is essential to keeping the best HR professionals.

4. Organization and Performance

How does your company work as a whole? Optimally, your business should run smoothly. How is information distributed to your workforce, and are those policies clearly defined? The way that you have your staff organized could be the best tool you have.

The best way that your HR department can contribute to your overall corporate structure is by developing an employee review system. How often are your managers meeting with staff? What do they ask of your employees during the review?

Small things that are easily changed can have a powerful effect on morale. For example, if you have a rating scale from one to five, you should reasonably expect there to be a good assortment of five-star ratings. If you make it impossible to get a five on assessments, this demoralizes your staff.

5. Finding a Balance

Find the balance between what matters to your company and what matters to your employees. The review system should work both ways. Your management should be able to help develop employees, and those employees should also be free to express how they feel about working for the company and what changes they’d like to see implemented.

6. Structure as Part of HR Strategy

Structure, or organizational design, is the size and shape of your organization as a whole. A strong structure should focus on how to best serve your customers and should concentrate strongly on flexibility when developing new ways to meet those needs. If you can go with the flow and meet your customers’ needs, your structure could be one of your most valuable assets.

Some companies thrive on a very rigid structure with a lot of levels of responsibility and clear delineation among roles. These companies tend to be older institutions, such as banks or hospitals.

Other companies have what is called a flat hierarchy, meaning that no employee is above another one. This structure can work well with smaller groups, but be cautious. Employees may desire more structure, not less, to do their jobs appropriately.

7. Resourcing and Hiring

Human resources employees are responsible for hiring for your company. They will be the first face that a prospective employee sees, and they are traditionally responsible for raising your company’s name recognition at job fairs and other hiring events. HR may well determine how potential employees see your company.

In essence, they are responsible for establishing your brand for prospective employees. HR is accountable for these resourcing strategies and nearly all recruitment initiatives. Without a strong hiring procedure, you run the risk of turning off the best employees.

8. Staff Development in an HR Strategy

How do you intend to develop your workforce and remain competitive? There are three primary levels of responsibility when thinking about staff development: the organization as a whole, the teams that make up the organization and the individuals who make up the teams.

  • The term "organization" means the company as a whole and concerns the general vibe and culture of your company.

  • Teams are individual working teams or departments. These teams may all have different areas of proficiency and different, sometimes competing goals. To ensure that you are getting the best to your teams, you must show them how they interface with the organization at large.

  • Individuals are the heart of your company. They make up the teams and contribute to the greater organization of your workforce. Managers should be conducting regular meetings with your employees, and HR should have a policy that allows employees to contact them directly if needed. 

Benefits and HR Strategy

What benefits are you offering your employees? Do you give bonuses based on performance or sales numbers? What do you do to reward your employees?

Many types of benefits are required by federal law, such as offering health insurance. However, going above that baseline can net you the best people.

What is your reward system, and how does it contribute to the overall company culture? Base pay, profit sharing and bonuses are all common benefits in a variety of industries. To maintain a strong workforce, your benefits should be in line with your competitors, and you should be open to revisiting them as often as is needed.

Company Culture Strategy

If you have developed a strong human resource strategy and focused on hiring the best people, then you should have a good company culture. However, many things can go wrong within your organization that could create a rift and change your company culture for the worse. When your workplace atmosphere is contributing to employee attrition and creating a difficult working environment for your staff, the culture has become toxic.

Employees don't want to think that the way they do things or the way they behave is contributing to a toxic environment, so addressing these issues must be done sensitively. You will likely get push back from employees who are contributing to the toxicity. When that push back happens, you must step in as an owner or manager and explain that everyone within your organization is here to do a job. Part of that job is to work well with other co-workers and to complete tasks while being polite and pleasant to co-workers.

Importance of Soft Skills

This isn’t to say that everyone in your organization needs to be friends. However, your company is a business, and there is a reasonable expectation that all of your employees should do their jobs without making other employees' jobs harder or less pleasant. There is a tendency in many industries to keep employees with hard-to-find technical skills regardless of the way they treat other people.

This is one of the biggest mistakes that new managers can make. It is easy enough to train technical skills, and there are plenty of online classes and workshops that can cover the day-to-day needs in most work instances. It’s much harder to train so-called “soft skills". By coming down hard and demanding that your staff work together and be polite to each other, you’ve set a company culture that will keep your employees happy.

HR Strategy Process

These components to HR strategy are a framework that you can use to walk through your policies and procedures. Every industry is different, however. You need to find out what components are important to your business and how you can best support your employees.

While working out your strategies, consider this line of thought:

  • Start: What processes, policies or procedures are you not using that you should be using? Are there new tools that you could use to better your company?

  • Stop: Are there policies in place that are not adding value to your products? Do you have rules for your employees to follow that are contributing nothing to their overall ability to do their jobs?

  • Continue: What is working for your company? Acknowledging what is working well and the employees who are contributing to success is important in any industry. If a policy is working, there’s no reason to fix or change it.  

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About the Author

Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She has been writing on business-related topics for nearly 10 years. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing (www.wordsmythcontent.com) and she works with a number of small businesses to develop B2B content for their websites, social media accounts, and marketing materials. In addition to this content, she has written business-related articles for sites like Sweet Frivolity, Alliance Worldwide Investigative Group, Bloom Co and Spent.