I have a problem with the constant barrage of HR professionals or those that
are related to the function, who continuously state the obvious: HR should be
more strategic, more closely aligned with the needs of the business, acting as
business partners, part of the operational support focus, an essential element
within the commercial structure of the company.
Let’s get back to basics. HR is an essential element within the business. It
is there to support the development, growth, or consolidation of activities.
The key to success in business terms is ‘adding value’ to the operations as
required by the executive heads of functions aligned with the corporate
Yet there are a number of specific requirements essential to ensuring HR
delivers its targets within the business: the chief executive must be totally
sold on the function and the professional capabilities of the HR team members;
peer groups and the HR director must understand the value of the function and
the services it provides; the HR team members must acknowledge the
accountability, not the responsibility, that they carry for the provision of
professional services, to enhance the performance of the business.
Irrespective of whether the HR function is strategic, operational or
support- orientated, HR services must be appropriate to the business model, add
clear and measurable value and be perceived as a true business partner.
If you are an HR director, ask yourself some key questions:
– What is the perceived value of the HR function?
– How often are the services used and to what extent?
– Do the peer groups agree the HR function offers ‘added value’, and that
it’s processes are respected and appreciated?
– Is HR perceived as a service which is integral to the well-being of the
If the answer to all these questions is yes, then the HR function has a
place in the organisation. If not, the clear answer is that it doesn’t.
Here’s your checklist to enforce your belief in what your HR service
provides for the business:
– Ensure it is related to the true needs of the business
– The CEO’s commitment to HR is total and well-communicated to the whole
– The executive peer group relates to the professionalism of the HR
function, and regularly uses it to enhance operational performance.
If you’ve ticked every item, the HR function is an integral part of the
business. It is a business partner, which adds value.
By Stephen Hall, Group HR director, Costain Group plc