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People Power: How HR can be a Strategic Partner to the C-Suite

People Power: How HR can be a Strategic Partner to the C-Suite
Posted on Monday, January 28, 2019 by Rae Shanahan

Every organization has its suite of decision makers who drive crucial business decisions.


The titles and backgrounds of this core group may differ, but one theme is true across all industries: organizations that include HR professionals in these strategic conversations benefit greatly.

The information gained by an HR department’s consistent efforts to understand and serve its employees is invaluable. From on-the-ground insights about employee satisfaction to tech solutions that streamline the benefits experience, HR professionals are uniquely set up to support a business’s most important asset — its people. With lower recruiting budgets, an understanding of employee needs and sentiments has to be on the forefront for better employee cohesion, and ultimately, a strengthened bottom line. 

If your business has an appointed CHRO, that person is already a key member of the decision-making group at your organization. But even if you don’t, HR professionals can still play a vital role in acting as a strategic partner to the C-suite. Here are three ways HR professionals contribute to critical strategic decisions:

  1. Focus on the bottom line. Hiring may appear to be a “soft science” to some, but HR professionals know that a successful employee retention policy can pay off in clear, quantifiable dividends. The average cost of making a hire comes to $4,129 and takes 42 days to secure. And these costs add up across departments, particularly when the turnover rate hovers around 20 percent. HR professionals can offer solutions to improve retention that other decision-makers may have overlooked, such as engaging employees via benefits or investing in efficiency software. As the ones closest to employees’ needs and concerns, HR partners are uniquely placed to inspire creative thinking and collaboration around keeping employees engaged and productive, thereby addressing turnover costs.
  1. Draw the link to customer satisfaction. C-suite executives are well served by considering the link between employee retention and customer satisfaction. After all, a customer who has worked with the same account representative for years, shared successes and learnings together, collaborated at in-person meetings, and participated in strategic conversations is more likely to have their problems solved with the benefit of long-term context. The ability to hark back to a successful initiative or point out potential shortcomings based on prior learnings is invaluable, especially when companies throughout the labor market are experiencing high turnover. Bringing intentionality to relationship building in this way has quantifiable results: customers repeatedly report higher satisfaction when their partners retain employees over time.
  1. Demonstrate empathy toward employee needs. More than anything, HR professionals have the valuable position of representing the voice of employees in crucial conversations. When the question is asked how to optimize compensation packages, it’s Human Resources who can offer data behind which benefits are being utilized and which could use attention. Employers spend an average 31.7 percent of an employee’s hourly wage toward benefits – ensuring that money is well spent can help a business save money, and representing the employee voice at the C-suite level can identify benefits such as flex time that employees increasingly value as part of their workplace experience. When employees feel supported by their employer, they’re much more likely to recommend a friend for an open position, which improves your employer brand with both potential employees and customers.

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