What drives a company’s success? At first glance, identifying what makes one company more successful than another can be difficult. Is it management style, corporate leadership, excellent customer service, providing a unique service or product or strong corporate culture? All these factors can certainly contribute to success, but differing management styles, corporate leadership, approaches to customer service, product offerings and corporate cultures make it hard to quantify what makes a business successful. However, successful companies do overlap in some fundamental ways, one being an understanding of the critical role HR plays in achieving overall organizational success. HR is a key driver of growth and competitiveness, and here are essential ways in which HR drives organizational success.
Attract And Retain Top Talent
Finding and keeping good talent is always a challenge, but now it’s an unprecedented one. The workforce and marketplace are in constant flux, and a successful recruiting strategy used a few months ago, may not make a dent in today’s business environment still reeling from the pandemic and its aftereffects. At the height of the pandemic, more than 120,000 businesses temporarily closed resulting in more than 30 million U.S. workers being unemployed. Job openings have steadily increased since January 2020, and unemployment has steadily declined. The end of 2022 saw the addition of an unprecedent 4.5 million jobs which was good news. However, millions of workers have left the labor force since before the pandemic resulting in nearly three million fewer Americans currently participating in the labor force compared to February of 2020. Finding and retaining good talent has never been more important to a business’ success, and the right HR team can make it happen. The current job market requires creative and innovative ways to get good talent in the door. To tap into the best talent out there, HR needs to understand the perspective of those looking for a job. Some strategies to consider, other than offering more competitive salaries and benefits, include reaching out to retirees with flexible scheduling, partnering with educational institutions/trade schools to create new pipelines of prospects and leveraging untapped social media such as Instagram and TikTok.
When executed properly, training and development is still the gold standard when it comes to retaining good talent. Rather than implementing “one-size-fits-all” programs, training and development that incorporates user-centered design principles is more effective. More informal on-the-job learning opportunities that are tailored to the employee’s unique needs is key. User-centered training starts with understanding what employees need to give them the best learning opportunities. Scheduling one-on-one meetings with employees and asking them specifically the skills with which they are most comfortable and those they feel need to be developed is a simple and effective way to identify potential training and development needs. The next step is finding hands-on opportunities to help the employee develop those skills. For example, if an employee is a self-identified “people pleaser” and has difficulty turning down projects when her schedule is too full, the employee could benefit from her manager helping her draft a professional and polite email briefly explaining why she is unable to take on more work at that time when asked to. These “learning moments” are a simple and quick way to help an employee develop the skills needed to better perform her job leading to greater job satisfaction, confidence, and a desire to stay with the company.
Optimize the Employee Experience
Creating a positive employee experience goes hand in hand with retaining good employees, leading to a better bottom line. A “positive employee experience” can mean many things but generally refers to personalized, motivating, and authentic experiences that strengthen individual, team and company performance. A McKinsey study reports that organizations in which HR facilitates a positive employee experience are 1.3 times more likely to report organizational outperformance than organizations in which HR does not facilitate a positive employee experience.
There are many ways to optimize the employee experience, the best ways often depending on the specific demographics of a workforce. However, one universal way to optimize the employee experience is to lead with empathy and authenticity. Authentic leaders are self-aware in terms of their emotions, values, and competencies. Their outward behavior emulates their own self-awareness, and they are unwavering and uncompromising in their beliefs. Authentic and empathetic leaders value strong communication skills and know how to “actively listen” to others by concentrating on what is being said, asking for clarification when needed and responding in an engaging, non-judgmental way. A recipient of active listening feels valued and understood.
Leading with authenticity requires acknowledging one’s own mistakes in the workplace, no finger pointing involved. Authentic leaders ensure the decisive and thoughtful creation of core values and model behavior consistent with those values even during trying and changing times.
HR can make authenticity in the workplace a priority starting with hiring authentic and empathetic leaders and assisting those lacking these skills through training, mentoring, and coaching. Once authenticity permeates throughout the workplace, the employee experience is enhanced.
Build and Nurture a Positive Workplace Culture
Creating and maintaining a positive workplace culture is essential to the success of any organization and is the quintessential “sweet spot” for HR professionals. There is a direct correlation between a positive company culture and organizational success. PwC’s 2021 Global Culture Survey of 3,200 employees in more than 40 countries highlights how a positive corporate culture takes center stage among the factors contributing to organizational success. Among the findings are:
- 66% of C-suite executives and board members believe culture is more important to performance than the organization’s strategy or operating model.
- 72% of senior management report that their culture helps successful change initiatives happen.
- Most surveyed agree that top cultural priorities should include recruitment and retention, digitization, health and safety and collaboration.
As business leaders tackle the constant challenges around finding better ways of working, innovation, recruitment and retention and digitation, the constant glue that binds an organization together and creates a competitive advantage is a strong corporate culture. PwC data further reveals the companies that were best able to successfully navigate the pandemic through agility and resilience were those with a strong corporate culture.
HR is the means to an end when it comes to creating and nurturing corporate culture. HR can work with corporate leadership to turn its corporate vision into a reality through tangible actions. Culture starts at the top, and HR helps leaders consistently behave and act in accordance with cultural expectations setting the standards and guiding principles for all others in the organization. HR keeps a finger on the pulse of the organization, knowing when to boost morale, be the objective voice of reason or calm choppy waters. HR ensures that the outside world, including recruits and new hires, has the correct perception of the company’s culture. From the offer letter to the exit interview, HR is the steward of corporate culture.
Get Smart HR
HR may not be the first function that comes to mind when considering what makes a business successful. However, once one drills down a bit and really examines the responsibilities within HR’s purview, it becomes quite clear exceptional HR drives and supports organizational success. Today’s business environment is full of unprecedented challenges, big and small. Why not use every resource at your disposal to ensure your organization not only survives but thrives with Smart HR’s help? If your company has relegated HR to paper pushing and administrative tasks, it’s time to realize your HR department’s full potential with help from Smart HR’s team of exceptional HR consultants. Call today.