Do HR Strategies Work?

George Butler
August 3, 2009 — 2,503 views  
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Recently, surveys have shown a decline in the popularity and appreciation of business HR (Human Resources) strategies. Talk of business HR is everywhere. Some companies swear by it as the saviour of their employees and companies; whilst other business owners and managers completely dismiss it.

So what do you think? Is it possible for a HR strategy work - and to prove it? It is difficult to really definitively measure the benefits of HR strategies, because so much of the results are based on the intangible - for example, employee and customer satisfaction. There are other strategies, like improving IT capabilities or sales techniques that can have measurable results, appear more attractive to some companies. But there definitely are methods of measuring those intangibles, those feelings and opinions, in a quantifiable way. This means that it is possible to prove that HR strategies can work and will work.

Step 1: Developing Your HR Strategy.

Before beginning to carry out a HR strategy, you must make sure that you have all the elements required for the HR strategy. In business HR, strategy development requires the team to define the who, what and how of the strategy. This means that they must identify the target of the strategy and the specific opinion or perspective of that target group. They then must show that a pattern has emerged over time because of that perspective and they must identify the plan with which they intended to change that opinion and trend.

Step 2: Know What Result You Need.

Once the who, what and how has been identified, the HR team have to decide how what exactly they are going to measure. The team also must decide what change in those measures would mean a positive, neutral or negative result. How much would employee satisfaction have to rise to classify as a positive result? How much of an increase in profit would qualify as a success?

Step 3: Gather Your Evidence.

Before the strategy begins, evidence needs to be collected on the current situation; you must establish a base-line. A base-line provides information on what needs to be improved, so that any future results can be easily shown as changing when compared to the base-line. The base-line will easily show whether future results are positive (better results than the base-line), neutral (the future results are the same as the base-line) or negative (future results which have declined since the base-line was taken).

Example: A business manager feels that his company could be performing better. Profits are not reaching their targets and the manager has noticed that employees have been lacking motivation and drive for the work. The manager decides that HR may be able to help improve the situation. The HR team recognise that the employees are complaining about their jobs and are generally unhappy with their situation. They also notice that as the employees get more and more unmotivated, the customers that the employees are dealing with are in turn reporting that they are less satisfied with the level of service they have been provided with.

As a result the HR team plan to provide competitive and fun incentives to the employees who perform well to induce increased motivation to work better. The HR team decide that before they carry this out, they need to measure the employee satisfaction levels, as well as the satisfaction levels of the customers they are in contact with. They also decide that an increase of 10% in customer satisfaction levels over 6 months would indicate a positive result, while anything less than that would be a neutral result and no change or a decrease in customer satisfaction would signify a negative result. The HR team survey the employees on their levels of satisfaction within the company. They ask them to rate their satisfaction with their job, their leaders, their training and their rewards on a scale of one to five.

An average score that represents the entire staff team's levels of satisfaction is reached. This is the base-line for the employees. This process is then repeated for the customers in the same fashion.

As the example shows, this is a very simple process and when followed correctly the success of business HR strategies can be measured. This proves that HR strategies and strategy development can and will work.

George Butler is a successful businessman who believes in utilising your small business resources to the best of your abilities. His areas of interest are small business marketing and technology resources to help business grow. Find out more human resource strategy and small business productivity tools today.

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George Butler