Should HR be a Strategic Partner

Nithya B. Warrier
Department of Business Administration
College of Engineering

Should  HR  be  aligned with mission goals ?

Strategic human resources management, strategic alignment, alignment with mission accomplishment. These are just a few of the terms being used to describe the new, evolving role of Federal human resources management (HRM). The agencies that successfully align human resources management with agency mission accomplishment do so by integrating HRM into the agency planning process, emphasizing HR activities that support mission goals, and building strong HR/management relationships.

Definition: Human resources management alignment means to integrate decisions about people with decisions about the results an organization is trying to obtain.

Need for alignment

There is sudden emphasis on aligning HRM activities with agency mission a accomplishment. Basically, it comes down to demonstrating the value of human resources management to the agency. In the past, one of HR's primary roles has been to ensure compliance with laws, rules, and regulations. Although this is still, and will always be, a necessary function, many recent developments have led to a strong emphasis on results.

The main purpose of alignment is to improve organisational effectiveness, accountability, service delivery, decision-making, and internal management, thereby improving confidence in the organization.  Not only do human resources provide the competitive edge, but also several recent studies have confirmed that the quality and innovation of HR practices impact business results. Among other benefits, HR alignment with mission accomplishment increases HR's ability to anticipate its customers' needs, increases the agency's ability to implement strategic business goals, and provides decision-makers with critical resource allocation information.

Finally, HR alignment is a vital process to advance agency accountability. In addition to being a vital contributor to agency mission accomplishment, HRM alignment is the ultimate level of HRM accountability, as demonstrated in the Hierarchy of Accountability. While HRM accountability must begin with basic legal compliance, it ultimately encompasses all four levels of the pyramid, including demonstrating how HRM supports achievement of the agency strategic goals.

Hierarchy of Accountability

The common measurement tools used to define the success of the alignment initiative include:

    * Employee satisfaction scores
    * Overall business performance
    * HR client satisfaction scores
    * Percentage completion of HR plan
    * Cost of HR services provided
    * Retention of highest-potential employees


Integrating the HR function with strategic agency goals takes time, persistence, and an in depth knowledge of the process involved. The HRD/Organisation Alignment Model, shown below, illustrates the process of aligning HRD with the human resources function (HR) and the organisational planning function.

The three levels in each block represent the relationship among the organisation, HR and HRD functions. An example of this relationship is shown below through one block of the model.

The HRD/Organisation Alignment Model is based on a "top-down" approach. The management of agency human resources is an integral part of how an agency is going to achieve its mission goals. Without people, there is no one to do the work. Therefore, integrating HRM into the agency strategic plan is the first step in aligning it with the mission.

HR System plays an important strategic and operational role in adding value to the firm's performance and cannot be discounted. By defining, maintaining, and assessing HRM goals and measures, communicating them throughout the agency, and using the information to make management decisions, agencies are able to ensure that the management of human resources contributes to mission accomplishment and that managers are held accountable for their HRM decisions in support of mission accomplishment. Human Resource management is concerned with the accomplishment of objectives by utilizing physical and financial resources through the efforts of human resources.

Human Resources is responsible for many of the activities involved in planning, acquiring, building and maintaining an organization's human capital. Organizations whose HR departments are disconnected from the business may be compromising their ability to compete. HR can play a role in realizing business objectives by leading organizational change, fostering innovation and effectively mobilizing talent to sustain the firm's competitive edge. Given the investment typically required to support an HR organization, it makes good business sense to maximize HR's impact on the business.

Organizations should encourage active participation of as many people as possible engaging them in the ongoing dialogue, and involving them in the strategic planning process, to generate a feeling of ownership of the process and the outcomes throughout the organization. Never before has the role of human resources (HR) been more critical to the mission and overall success of organizations worldwide. Successful organizations of the future must strategically leverage their HR resources.

Organizations can align HR with the business strategy by conducting a rigorous diagnostic assessment of HR's performance and using the resulting analysis as the basis for strategy development and implementation planning.

Nithya B. Warrier
Department Of Business Administration
College of Engineering

Source : E-mail May 15, 2005


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