3 ways HR leaders can add a competitive edge

There is suggestion of a strong link between pay and performance at the executive level

HR leaders need to focus on three key areas in connecting business with HR strategy and driving commercial outcomes, according to Oracle.

The first is a focus on ‘what we’re spending’ and linking workforce performance and individual and team performance with how workforce plans address growth or change in the organisation, said Aaron Green, VP HCM strategy at Oracle.

The next step is to focus on mobility and help enable employees and managers at every level of the organisation to do their jobs from anywhere at any point in time with the right tools, he said.

The third step is to develop rewards programmes that are tailored to different sectors of a workforce to positively impact attraction and retention of existing talent, Green said.

“HR needs to partner with the business and really understand and adapt to its changing demands,” he said.

“In doing so, HR should take a cross-functional lead across the business and provide advice on how to grow the business through attracting the right talent as well as signalling early warning signs on business performance.

“Those are areas that HR has a really unique insight into, because HR is one of the functions that spans the entire enterprise.”

The value of HR
Green said it’s time for HR to stop worrying about proving its worth, and instead gain credibility by showing value.

“The number one thing to do is to operate inside the business in the way that other functional peers operate inside the business.

“In my mind, that’s around cold hard facts and how you work around those cold hard facts.

“We can call it reporting, business intelligence and business insight; because when HR has that data, and understands how to answer questions about that data and understand what it means for organisational performance, that’s really where HR’s value lies.”

The challenges facing business over the coming 20 years will be significantly different to those faced currently and in the past, and Green said this will have major implications for HR.

“HR needs to develop talent programmes that help retain talent that would otherwise be retiring, or which engage emerging talent into the workforce, or which help motivate talent that is at the ‘mid-point’ in their career,” he said.

“This requires a big mindset shift from HR’s perspective, because it needs to understand all the different segments of the workforce and how different generations engage with the organisation and their colleagues.”

Green also said HR also needs to become well versed in technology, as technology unifies organisations.

“We need to understand how we can handle social technology and how we interact with the workforce and communicate with people,” said Green, who predicted the next generation of HR practitioners are going to be “data ninjas”.

“These are people who really understand all of the ‘non-correlated’ data points about people and management in the organisation and understand how to extract meaningful business information from that,” he said.

“HR is the one function in an organisation that has the unique ability to collect objective data and also layer subjectivity on top of that. That’s something that you don’t see anywhere else in the organisation.”

Opportunities and challenges in going global
Green also observed that the nature of the Australian workplace is becoming more global, with an influx of workers from overseas as well as a more global approach to doing business in general.

“What we’re seeing in Australia for the first time since the GFC is employees coming from all over the world, and we’re also seeing a lot of Australian businesses starting to become multinational businesses with global branches and with global customers,” he said.

“This presents a completely different set of challenges for the HR practitioner.

“We need to make sure that our employees are capable, trained and skilled up to do business overseas; it’s a great opportunity to start fostering mobility programmes for our employees.

“It also presents a unique opportunity to source talent from outside the Australian market or even from inside it, to help keep the competitive edge.”