Back in August 2012, I wrote that Human Resources can only claim to be a strategic partner if it brings a specialized expertise to the table with the heads of other divisions. Three years later, that point is still true.
Moreover, today it is even more critical to emphasize that Human Resources needs to change along with the changing workplace. It seems that every year, employees need to work faster and handle more information to succeed. Human Resources must increase its pace and capability commensurately.
Here are some questions to ask your Human Resources Department:
1. How should our business measure employee productivity? Can our employees achieve the standards of productivity needed to increase our bottom line? If not, what should we do about it?
2. How are we selecting candidates for the future? Do we even know what skills we will need in five years? What are we doing to make our workplace attractive to these people?
3. What are we doing to develop and retain our current employees? Can they be successful in the future? If not, how are we preparing to replace them?
4. What are you (Human Resources) doing to minimize the risk of expensive legal claims while not placing an inordinate administrative burden on the company? In other words, how do you make the business case for the policies and practices you want to impose?
5. Where should the company focus its investment—on technology or on people? Why? (The correct answer is probably on both, so how do we balance these investments?)
These are essential questions for every leadership group to answer. The answers will not come from HR alone. But HR should drive the discussion and decision-making process. If your Vice-President of HR is not, then maybe you need another head of HR.
Leaders, what other questions for HR would you add to this list?