Hello PPMA members and friends

Our regular guest blogger Jabbar Sadar writes this week about how he sees the role of  HR in today’s organisations.

“The recent severance payment dispute at the BBC,  has raised questions once again about the role of HR in a strategic business.  HR Director Lucy Adams has faced criticism for her role in the payout of outgoing executives over a two year period, which at times reached just shy of £1m single payments.  Rather than dissect this story in more detail, I’d like to focus on the lessons HR can take from this regarding its ties to business strategy.

HR has constantly been told its needs to be more strategic to add value to the business.  Recent CIPD research showed that 40% of company leaders are still either unaware of, or say HR has no involvement in the development of their strategy.  The 1990s model of Business Partnering was developed to combat this issue, but with statistics such as these emerging, questions must be raised regarding the model’s success in practice.

To be entrepreneurial requires using an advantage you possess that no one else has, and maximising it for business success.  For HR to become and remain entrepreneurial, it must not lose sight of its original purpose; the people.  This is focusing on our specialist knowledge of understanding our staff, to subsequently add value to the business; building talent pipelines, reducing sickness absence by improving resilience, developing staff with learning programmes, and so on.  These initiatives all contribute to the business whilst focusing on the raison d’être of HR; making the people of your company as engaged, efficient and productive as possible, by acting on their wants and needs in the workplace.

This is not to suggest HR shouldn’t know the business; far from it.  In my current role at Cafcass, only by knowing the culture, motivation and challenges of our social workers, and the workings of the Family Court system, can effective policies be designed and strategy developed.  The focus must remain, however, on knowing how the business works, then using HRs unique knowledge of people to both inform other and develop our own initiatives that drive the business forward.  Regarding the BBC case study, HR seemed excessively focus on the ‘strategic business,’ rather than wider organisation reward policy and, indeed, public reaction, leading to it missing it opportunity to avert this problem, and subsequently add value.

HR must be strategic and business focused, but by far the most effective way it can do this is through an understanding of what makes HR unique to the business.  The Finance Director should have an understanding of PR, but shouldn’t be drafting wholesale communication to customers and service users.  They can report, however, on how much the campaign would cost, where savings could be made, and so on; using their expertise to help the wider business model. HR will be entrepreneurial only when it does what it does best; HR.  Reward, Talent Management, Engagement, L&D and so on all add business value when done correctly, and this should remain our focus.  For HR to truly become entrepreneurial, it must focus not only on the business, but also on the HR.”

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this, so why not drop us a comment and tell us if you agree?

Jabbar Sadar

Director of HR and OD, CAFCASS and PPMA Regional Lead, Yorkshire & Humberside