Economic climate will not reduce HR’s strategic role

I disagree entirely that HR will no longer be a strategic partner and purely be seen as a ‘safe pair of hands’ due to the economic climate (‘Will HR be left out in the cold?’, Personnel Today, 25 November).

Of course there is an increase in the more transactional and legal work, such as redundancies and outplacement, but this does not mean that HR will no longer have a strategic role to play. For example, there is a major opportunity for HR to lead post-merger transitional work or restructuring a business.

We have been working with many in-house HR teams that have developed their role within organisations as a strategic business partner through developing coaching skills and team facilitation skills, as well as business partnering. The impact of the economy means they are looking to further develop skills in-house rather than rely on consultancy support.

HR departments that structured their departments wisely in the good times, got to know the business and increased their influence at the top table, will be those best positioned to keep strategic influence strong during the downturn. For those that need support, now is the time to develop those skills so you don’t sink back to being a transactional department.

Fiona Ellis, director, Bath Consultancy Group

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