Why Every CEO Should Give HR A Seat At The Table

Full Article in Forbes:

I firmly believe that behind every successful organization is a great human resources department. If we took a magnifying glass and looked closely at today’s most successful companies and those that make the list of best places to work, they all have one thing in common: happy people.

CEOs are beginning to understand they can no longer consider HR as a back-office function. They are realizing that in order to better impact their bottom line, they must invest in their people. They can no longer create budgets without including employees. Salaries are a huge expense already, so why not ensure you’re getting a return on investment by providing your employees a happy place to work?

Maybe you’re still trying to understand what constitutes a “happy place to work” and how can you create that yourself. Well, this is my point exactly. It’s not for you to figure out, but for your trusted HR team.

Don’t make HR the minority of the organization.

I spent most of my HR career in organizations that didn’t have a human resources department. I would be hired to develop that part of the business. Organizations that typically function without an HR department and rely on the office manager to handle all personnel issues don’t really see the value in human resources. HR is viewed as the minority — a department that only exists because it’s the natural next step as the company grows.

Even after organizations make the leap to add a human resources team, we would never be invited to important meetings. We would be given payroll to process and files to organize and this was considered our main responsibility. You might have been asked for assistance implementing the company’s new benefits program, but the organization would have already mapped out what it was and how much it was willing to spend.

Being the minority in an organization doesn’t benefit anyone, but with a little help from the CEO, we can turn this around by becoming a key player.

There’s plenty of value in having HR at the table.

Organizations stand to gain a lot of value from having HR at the table. Our job is to care, nurture and discipline. We build trust while setting the tone of the organization. How we welcome and train each new hire determines the course and the direction of the company. Having a seat at the table allows us insight into the minds of the leadership team and expectations of the department.

At the end of the day, the most typical complaint HR receives is “there’s no communication.” This is why understanding the thought process of each leader is so important. I’ve been through a few mergers and acquisitions, and I’ve found that employees are not updated nearly as often as they should be, especially with all of the planning that the process involves. Often times, messages get tied up at the highest level and never make it down the line to managers.

When it’s viewed as a strategic partner of the business, HR can ensure the lines of communication remain open. With proper planning and effective messaging, HR ensures a smooth transition for affected employees, departments and managers when it comes to layoffs. We create, implement and monitor staffing budgets. We analyze compensation trends to ensure we stay competitive in the industry. We are experts in attracting and retaining top talent. We find cost-effective ways to educate and train employees who are on a specific career path. We do our due diligence with grievances and conduct thorough investigations, leaving limited to no liability on the employer. If organizations allow us, we keep employees happy and the company free and clear from lawsuits.

HR helps make a cultural impact.

The most frequently asked question potential candidates ask is, “What’s it like to work here?”

HR can help you determine the vision of your company to make a positive cultural impact. You can’t create a culture without knowing your company’s core values. For example, my current organization is shifting gears to turn us into a service-excellence company. We didn’t just send a memo to all staff telling them we want to focus on customer service, so “be nice to everyone.” We’re getting employees to adapt to this new mindset as they treat patients who are struggling with addiction. My team and I are finding a way to brand and market the new vision without letting employees feel the impact of the change.

There are lots of things to consider when trying to build or change cultures, but it is important to take employees into account and the type of work they do. This can be a tricky thing, but with human resources at the table, the needs of both management and employees are understood and communicated.

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