C-Suite: Wants more from HR…but is it in the Best Interests of our Organizations?

“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” Richard Branson

I have had the fortune recently…I think… of reading between 400-500 articles on various Human Resources subjects. Many of the articles I have read are about contemporary trends in HR.

In reading all these articles, one of the themes that has stuck out and resonated with me is the new expectations from the C-Suite for HR management/employees.

The C-Suite has said, not only should HR be at the table of Senior Management, but HR should:

  • contribute to the company’s bottom line and be able to show how it is contributing to the bottom line through expense reduction, revenue generation, talent management, and risk mitigation
  • ensure it has a thorough understanding of the organization’s business
  • be able to employ various metrics to show what the company’s business needs are
  • be driving mergers and acquisitions and helping companies enter new markets
  • be responsible for change management, and be cultural change agents
  • be responsible for organizational structure changes

Oh by the way, the above requirements are in addition to all the “basic” HR transactional aspects that we should be taking care of.

I have made a list of what could be the “basic” HR requirements for ease of reference:

  • HR Strategic Planning
  • Position Descriptions
  • Recognition Programs
  • Benefits
  • Disability Management
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Retention
  • Compensation
  • Policies and Procedures
  • Satisfaction Surveys/Culture Surveys
  • Bargaining/ Labour Relations
  • Foreign Recruitment
  • Health and Safety
  • HR Leadership/Management
  • HRIS HR Technology
  • Recruitment
  • Terminations
  • HR Administration
  • HR Metrics
  • Performance Management
  • Training and Development
  • On-Boarding and Orientation
  • Succession Planning
  • Exit Interviews
  • Mentoring

One of the main reasons that the C-Suite has these new and higher expectations for HR is that they feel that most of these “basic” HR transactional requirements should be handled by HRIS System(s).

My response to the C-Suite’s new expectations are: “Really?”

Before I further expound on the “really” statement, let me make some preliminary comments:

One, I have heard too often over the last 10 years, at many HR conferences/networking events, HR professionals professing that we should be at the table of Senior Management. To me it was often stated with too much…well… whining.

Let our HR actions speak for themselves. If we are doing a good enough job, we will be asked to be at the Table of Senior Management. C-Suite Executives understand how important their employees are and how important HR is.

As Richard Branson has said, “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”

Senior Management understands this Branson principle.

Two, we should have a thorough understanding of the business, and I think this is the same as it has been for many years.

Three, HR should be looking at ways to measure how it contributes to the bottom line, this is a fairly new HR requirement, and in today’s competitive world, yes, HR should be contributing to the bottom line.

But…if the C-Suite is asking us to be responsible for organizational change, organizational structure, organizational culture, mergers and acquisitions, and new markets, my question is: what is the Chief Operating Officer and/or CEO doing??

One reason the C-Suite has new/different expectations, is that we as HR professionals have done a very poor marketing job of letting Management and all Employees know about how much we really do in the “basic” 25 areas of responsibility listed above.

HR work in these 25 areas is tough demanding work. People aren’t easy; people are complex.

I was going to expound on HR’s demanding work in these 25 areas, but it is your responsibly to ensure Senior Management and employees have a thorough knowledge of the work you are doing in these areas.

And as far as seeing HRIS’ take care of all the HR transactional demands of these 25 areas, I don’t think so.

The computer-savvy, well educated, talented Generations Y and Z (who will be taking over soon), will quickly realize that HR Software and Big Data will not take care of the organizational requirements in these 25 areas.

Altruistic and genuine caring HR Professionals will.

Also, as HR professionals, we must reflect with sombre thought, if we want the C-suite suggested “extra responsibilities” noted above (if we have a choice).

Taking care of the 25 HR areas above is complex, rigorous, and are very important requirements.

How much “weight” can we carry, and if we spread ourselves too thin, will we really be serving  the best interests of the most important part of our organizations-our employees.

2 thoughts on “C-Suite: Wants more from HR…but is it in the Best Interests of our Organizations?”

  1. Hi Darryl,
    Congrats on starting a blog and on your new website .

    HR needs to reinvent and disrupt itself like every other part of the business . Ultimately HR manages the life cycle of employees from entry to exit and everything in between. As part of the leadership system, great HR leaders also apply ingredients that systematically help people thrive while advancing the culture . It’s that straightforward and complex at the same time . And it requires being both transactional and transformational. Ultimately and ideally the CPO is be the most impactful C Suite role after the CEO.

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