How To Get HR To Think ‘Business’

It is the same criticism over and over again: the HR industry is too focused on internal politics, and doesn’t put enough attention on the company’s business mission. A guide for incorporating performance concerns into their agenda.

Is your HR department not business-oriented enough? Nathalie Sabourin, CHRP and founder of Sabourin Consulting Group, believes the criticism is deserved, at least in part. “There is definitely a lack in university curriculums, which could include more mandatory courses in financial management in the HR industry.”

There is also the fact that human resources are directed to the human side of the business. “Its focus is on values, the emotional, which sometimes results in bad sale numbers.”

However, the shift towards the business model has already begun, believes the counselor. “According to a 2015 report by Deloitte, reinventing the HR role is 4th among the priorities of business leaders. This is an opportunity!”

Here are three tips to get into business mode.

Interest in the strategic mission of the company

“We human resource managers are very good in processes, labor relations, compensation, etc. We handle operations while also being interested in the strategic mission of the company.”

It is also necessary to know what exactly that is. On its website, the Business Development Bank is concerned that the concept of ‘strategic planning’ remains unclear for many entrepreneurs.

Here is the Bank’s definition: Simply put, strategic planning determines exactly where your organization is going over the next few years and how it's going to get there. 

So, how does one implement this mission? “By getting to know the customers and the company's products. Also, by calculating the percentage of the cost of labor within your operations,” says the counselor.

Quantifying what that means

“How is it that only 60% of HR managers measure the results of the initiatives they put in place?” asks the counselor, citing a study by Cossette and Bouteiller (2013), two professors from HEC Montreal, in which she participated in as a consultant.

The study showed a glaring deficiency in terms of data processing: among businesses with measurement tools, only 50% of them were calculating their turnover rates and only 30% were looking at employee engagement, while these two elements contribute directly to the profitability of the company.

Take your place at the decision table

Beyond numbers, HR is struggling to find its place within the management sector. “We’re starting far behind,” states Sabourin. “Some business leaders still see HR as a necessary evil!”

Yet, we speak more and more of integrating a ‘CHRO’ (chief of human resources officer) to the board. Good news? “Yes!” says the counselor. “But this will not happen by itself. We must negotiate, persuade and take our place. Do not hesitate to speak up, and to stand before management.”

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