Strategic HR Planning: Where to Start

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Human resource departments have been increasing in size over the past few years because more and more employers have begun recognising the positive effects that an effective hr department can have on employees. HR departments are now seen as indispensable components of organisations that hope to become leaders in their industry.

What are HR strategies?

HR strategies are methods that can be used to help the human resource department implement its policies. As such, they address all the different aspects of the department’s work, including recruitment and retention.

They are also often referred to as human resource planning because they are part of an organisation’s ability to achieve its goals. It’s only with good human resource planning that an organisation can hope to achieve its aspirations and as such, it’s important to develop strategies that cater to an organisation’s needs.

Popular strategies

1. Strategic human resource management

It’s becoming increasingly important for organisations to shift towards strategic human resource management. This is the ability of an HR department to formulate its strategies based on the organisation’s short and long term goals.

Consequently, the decisions that are taken on departmental level should reflect targets that the company has set for itself. If the company for example is planning to expand, your recruitment strategy should focus on developing methods that will allow you to hire top talent.

2. Employee engagement

Although employee motivation is often overlooked, it can help significantly boost productivity and increase loyalty. Perks and benefits are usually an excellent way to help incentivise staff, but if you are looking for meaningful motivation, it’s important to make it performance based.

Studies have demonstrated that employees produce better results when they receive feedback and it goes without saying that it’s important to be positive, while any negative remarks should be delivered in a supportive environment.

Performance reviews

Scheduled performance appraisals are easy to plan, and they should be regular. Many companies hold performance reviews once a year, but the truth is that it’s not often enough. Employees need to sit with their managers every so often to discuss their targets, receive feedback and figure out ways to make them more motivated.

The more you invest in these feedback sessions, the better the results are going to be. Often employees are unsure how to proceed and feel intimidated to ask a superior, but these sessions should focus on constructive dialogue.

Employee rewards

Because there is no greater incentive for employees than rewards, it’s important to include some sort of reward strategy for high performers. Whether that’s bonuses at the end of the year, extra days off or whatever you feel that the staff would appreciate more, it’s important that you include it.

3. Recruitment

Identifying successful recruitment strategies is one of the core functions of any effective HR department. For the organisation to push forward it needs talented people that will be able to show innovative thinking and help the company achieve its goals. But, as recruiting is becoming increasingly difficult due to fierce competition from other companies, it’s important to figure out strategies that will allow you to hire top talent with minimum costs.

It’s important to invest in building up your employer brand, as well as creating a positive company culture as these things are attractive to prospective candidates and they also help create a positive buzz about your brand.

4. Retention

What perhaps distinguishes truly successful companies from not so successful companies is their ability to retain their talented employees. This should not only be your goal because turnover is costly - needing to repeat the hiring process and training the new employee - but also because continuity helps organisations focus on their goals.

People leave their jobs when they are unhappy, and it’s your job to identify what could be making people in your company unhappy and figure out ways to remedy those problems. It could be, that they feel that there’s no room to grow, or that they are not compensated well enough for their efforts, or it could be that they feel like they are in a toxic workplace. Whatever it is, it’s important to maintain a close relationship with all of the employees so that they can confide in you when there’s need.

5. HR analytics

Analytics essentially allow companies to use employee data to make better decisions about their workforce and improve the performance of their workforce. They provide insight for effectively managing employees to reach organisational goals in a more efficient manner. They also help managers forecast future staffing needs which can be extremely beneficial for large organisations.

6. Consulting

If your responsibilities are overwhelming, there’s always the possibility to hire HR consulting firms. Many companies outsource their human resource needs as these companies address the issues your organisation might be facing and develop effective processes and programmes.

With HR consulting you’ll be able to develop more strategic processes that relate to human capital and maximise performance. Of course, it’s important to choose wisely when hiring as there are a number of companies out there that you can hire, but you need to look at their reputation and certifications, while it would also be wise to check their references as well.

Top consulting firms:

  • Aon Hewitt
  • Deloitte Consulting
  • Hay Group
  • Mercer
  • Oliver Wyman

7. Additional resources

If outsourcing is not something you are interested in, but you’d still like every bit of help you can get, you should definitely consider checking out some of the resources that are available online. There are many websites online that try to provide professional advice to HR managers and assistants.

Developing your HR plan

Different issues need to be addressed differently, but it’s important to view the process of building your strategies as an integrated one. Recruiting and retaining, for example, have a lot in common, and treating them as two completely different issues could lead to problems.

1. Assess goals and current needs

To figure out the strategies you need to incorporate in your work, start by assessing the organisation’s goals. If you are not already in the loop about the company’s short and long-term goals, it’s important to get yourself involved.  

Apart from assessing future goals, it’s also important to assess current needs. This will help ensure that everything is running smoothly and enable you to implement the strategies you want to implement.

2. Separate your goals into separate areas

To optimise results, you are always advised to look at your policies as distinct areas. Generally speaking, there are four major areas you need to consider: recruiting, retaining, hr systems and organisational goals.

  • Recruiting includes hiring new employees, but it also involves putting systems in place that will help you become an attractive employer.
  • Retaining has to do with reducing turnover costs and ensuring talented employees don’t leave.
  • HR systems involve analytics that allow you to test your goals against your current needs.
  • Organisational goals include building a workplace where employees feel motivated.

3. Determine your next steps

After you’ve identified what you need to do to help your organisation push forward, you need to start taking action. If you realise that you are lacking specialists in certain areas you need to figure out strategies that will allow you to attract those specialists and so on.

HR strategies are there to make employees happy and help organisations meet their goals, however, it's also important to take into account existing legislation and regulations as it can help you formulate more powerful strategies.

Which strategy do you think is more important? Let me know in the comment section below!