Aligning Business and HR Executives for Strategic Advantage

Deloitte and The Economist Intelligence Unit issued a report a year ago titled “Aligned at the Top: How business and HR executives view today’s most significant people challenges – and what they’re doing about it.” Much of this report confirms similar findings in our recent research on Bridging the Gap between Finance and Talent Management.

The global survey of more than 500 HR and non-HR executives from 470 companies in every corner of the world found 85% of all surveyed executives consider people “vital” to every aspect of company performance. But only 23% of business executives believe HR currently plays a crucial role in strategy formulation and operational results.

This aligns with the findings from our study in which our first key finding was HR must take a more strategic role in the business. In fact, 87% of our respondents said HR should play a more strategic role than in the past.

But senior business executives relegate HR to administrative functions, believing “strategic people agenda issues” such as talent management, productivity, and leadership development are being managed elsewhere. Indeed, along with a high performance culture, these are identified as the most critical for both groups of executives. This too aligns with our research’s second key finding showing 99% of respondents agreeing employee engagement increases both retention and productivity.

The Deloitte study found: “Whilst values and cultural attitudes provide a foundation for employee engagement, to drive performance and results there must be a clear link between executable strategy and behaviour. Achieving this link is a top priority, and in most cases the CEO – not HR – appears to be leading the charge.”

I couldn’t agree more. CEOs and their executive teams invest a great deal of time and effort in creating the company values and the strategy. But to infuse those values into the culture and inspire behaviors to drive the strategy, a global program for recognition must be in place. A strategic tool such as the Globoforce platform ensures the values and behaviors the company desires are frequently recognized and rewarded in a way that allows the leadership team to track where and how those values are being adopted. This deep insight into values adoption allows leadership to manipulate the culture by addressing areas where certain values or behaviors may not be rewarded as frequently as desired and re-educate or train on those specific areas.

While it is clear from our own and Deloitte’s research that HR and business executives are not working together as they should on strategic issues, it is encouraging to know that this gap is at least now being recognized and addressed.

Does such a gap exist in your own organization? Is your HR group engaged at a strategic level or relegated to the administrative roles?

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