How HR Can Build a Business Case in the C-Suite

Group of People and Human Resoures Concept

In order to succeed in today’s business world, HR must gain the trust of business leaders such as the CEO and other C-suite leaders. That’s why Eva Sage-Gavin says it’s crucial for HR to connect to business objectives. Sage-Gavin is a board director and senior advisor with BCG, and a former CHRO with more than 30 years experience in human resources at Fortune 500 companies.

In a recent webinar hosted jointly by Human Resource Executive and XpertHR, Sage-Gavin explored proven approaches to influence and impact the board of directors and gain support for key HR initiatives. She also highlighted key roles for HR to play in today’s workforce as well as the workforce of tomorrow.

Why Alignment Is Important

It is critical for HR to align with business strategies and focus on the issues that keep CEOs up at night such as employees, customer relationships, bringing new ideas to the business, operational excellence and improving the corporate brand and reputation. This is important because, as Sage-Gavin points out, there is a direct connection between HR capabilities as well as economic performance.

Research shows that companies that invest in talent and their people achieve more growth in total shareholders. Great HR teams connect with the business, prioritize most strategic business-based outcomes and drive business impact.

Key Tips and Strategies

Accordingly, Sage-Gavin identified four key roles for HR today:

External Business Leadership–HR executives must act as ambassadors of their employer’s brand and provide counsel for the Board of Directors. HR should be thoroughly familiar with people-related policies and practices as well as thought leadership for HR professionals.

Internal Business Leadership–HR must engage in an active business partnership with the Board and make sure HR goals align with company strategy. In addition, HR must be an expert at managing talent and people.

Employee and Worker Advocate–HR must act as a steward and champion for employees and issues affecting them.

Team Leader–It is important for HR to act as a coach and mentor for others.

To succeed in these roles, Sage-Gavin says HR should be skilled at scouting future trends and identifying if the trends are an accelerator or a detractor for the business. In addition, she advises HR to be prepared to explain how these trends can add business value. But that’s not all. Sage-Gavin also recommends:

• Foreseeing the impact of technology and innovation on real work;
• Identifying how talent will integrate with company changes;
• Managing talent as well as performance and leadership;
Understanding analytics and how they affect the business; and
• Creating a sense of purpose, engaging people and building communities.

What’s Ahead?

Forecasting into the future, Sage-Gavin predicts that HR may play an even greater role as business and technology progress through the 21st century. Sage-Gavin foresees that HR may be called on to act as:

Organizational Engineer–HR is going to need to be an expert in new ways of working as our workforces become ever more global and more mobile. HR will have to facilitate virtual teams who may never meet face to face.

Social Policy and Community Activist–HR will need to become a talent and community engager and provide leadership in terms of corporate social responsibility.

Global Talent Scout/Coach--HR will need to continue to act as a talent scout and develop talent and provide coaching to employees.

Data Talent and Technology Integrator–HR must be at the forefront of forecasting new skills, as dictated and driven by technology, and effectively adopting them to increase productivity in the workplace.

Virtual Culture Architect–HR will need to act as an advocate of company culture globally and take part in building the brand worldwide.

What do you see as HR’s biggest role? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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