• Brad Federman

It’s Now or Never: HR Must Rise to the Occasion

Originally published in HR Professionals Magazine


For years Human Resources has been fighting to get a seat at the executive table and still, today, according to KPMG, only 17% of executives feel HR adds value. That is a statement; 83% of executives do not feel HR adds value. Executives are not alone. Twenty-two (22) percent of Human Resource professionals do not think their function is valued (NaturalHR). We are now in a period of time when we are dealing with a pandemic, economic crises, and racial strife. It’s now or never. HR must rise to the occasion or risk forever being seen as a lower level or back office function.

We live in a time where networks rule over hierarchy, work is no longer associated with a place, skill sets can change overnight, profit is getting squeezed, technology is used as a disruptor and agility is key. It is time that Human Resources embrace the new mindset. Here are ten ways to redefine and raise the level of your Human Resources function:


Learn the business

  • The foundation of a successful HR structure is doing your homework. HR is there to serve the core needs of the business such as growth, customer retention, profitability and brand superiority. It is imperative that legitimate time is placed in developing an understanding of the environment you are serving. Without that knowledge, it is extremely difficult to speak the language of the business, serve the business or have credibility in the executive suite.

Break out of the compliance box

  • HR can no longer operate in terms of simply checking the box that an action occurred or focus on risk. The true concept of human resources is the life and breath of the organization. It requires an active focus on defining a clear plan toward creating and maintaining a healthy and inclusive work culture. The world is changing every day; so in turn, the HR conversation is always on-going and never stagnant.

Focus on results, not just costs

  • In business, it’s common knowledge that the goal is to positively affect the bottom line. However, to approach success based on cost alone is a grave mistake. Securing long term health of your business often requires sacrifice in the short term. It requires more resources to rectify a problem caused by a lack of quality due to penny pinching than to treat situations with the proper attention and care required initially.

Drive culture as the glue that holds everything together

  • What sustains a great business is the environment in which its processes are conducted. We perform more effectively when we are properly trained and in an organization that places us in the best position to succeed. An agile culture that powers collaboration, resilient relationships, and employee growth creates a bond with an organization’s employees and customers.

Create trust through transparency

  • People are naturally more receptive to believing in things that are tangible. Running a business based on blind faith is often a recipe for disaster. An organization needs a comprehensive business model that is grounded in its ability to provide verifiable keys for profitability and performance tracking. When people can clearly envision every facet of work expectations; it creates a direct road toward trust. We need to create as much of an open book as possible.

Lead Experience Management (XM) for employees and customers

  • The most overlooked and underutilized measure of success is experience management. To truly have your finger on the pulse of your business is to have tools in place that actively record the human experience. One of the leading factors in reducing employee turnover and increasing consumer loyalty is exploring moments of truth. The only way to understand the needs of another in order to provide the best solution is to view things from their perspective.

Have the difficult conversations

  • The boldness to have the tough conversation makes or breaks a work culture. It’s impossible to maximize potential with people leaders that are either not empowered or feel uncomfortable in holding others accountable. The ability to convey a necessary message based on a genuine care for a person’s future success is impactful and outweighs the fear of invoking an undesired emotion.

Only let leaders take on management roles

  • Leadership is a quality that is earned, not just given. Too often leaders are appointed based on many factors other than the ability to productively drive others toward reaching their potential and achieving a common goal. We promote great individual contributors to leadership roles. Leadership is not measured simply by tenure, individual work ethic or productivity. Not all leaders are managers, but all managers should be leaders.

Encourage people to bring their whole selves to work

  • Having an inclusive environment exudes an organization that values its most important asset; people. Nothing erodes employee engagement more than a culture that creates an inherent fear for employees to show their true selves. We are more effective when we feel that we belong and we bring value based on our individuality, rather than only collectively as laborer. Too many organizations have tried to create inclusion by walking on egg shells and removing aspects of individuality in the workplace.

Promote collaboration

  • Though it may sound cliché; it is important to harness a “we” mentality in business. It is very easy to generate an “us vs them” mentality when there is no effort to build confidence that everyone is in this battle together. Few things drive buy-in stronger than feeling that everyone has a significant role that impacts our success as a whole and that we all support each other in that process.

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