Human resources needs to show off its strategic skills in talent management

Do you agree that “human resources (HR) has been overly focused in recent years on its own structure and on legal compliance, rather than how it can innovate to build improved performance through people”? This is what director of HR services at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Duncan Brown, argues in this week’s opinion piece, stating that HR must demonstrate its impact on the business and on employees if it is to fulfil a strategic, value-added role in the future and not be restricted to a transactional, mainly outsourced role.

How to become more strategic is a debate that has certainly filled several column inches in Personnel Today over the past few years. But how many of you are actually ‘being strategic’? A survey from consultancy HR with Guts reveals that while ‘strategy’ is a buzzword in HR circles, for the majority of senior HR professionals strategy occupies less than a third of their day. Instead, there seems to be much more time available for navel-gazing, even though three-quarters believe the endless focus on what HR should be called is a distraction that has no use whatsoever for the future development of the function.

One of the areas where HR can be truly strategic, in my opinion, is in talent management – a topic we cover in some depth in our extended features section.

Losing talented people is irritating and costly to the business, but HR is in a strong position to do something about it.

We asked business psychologists to reveal what the warning signs are when your top talent may be about to leave. Preventing them from doing so depends on how well you communicate with them. Telling your high potentials they’re on a ‘hipo’ list may be a good place to start. Having regular chats with top performers, addressing any issues, stretching them, nurturing them – being as ‘restless’ as they are – may just improve your retention figures. And that’s just the kind of statistic the board would welcome as evidence of HR’s strategic value.

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