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Aligning HR: Ensuring Your HR Strategy Contributes to Your Business Goals

May 26, 2021 Tanya Goncalves  
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What are your organization’s growth goals—and what business tactics are you using to achieve them?

Are you focused on product innovation? On differentiating the services you offer or expanding the market you’re targeting? Are you making technology your focus, to add efficiencies to the production cycle? Or maybe you’re intent on elevating your customer service above the competition to help your business shine?

Whatever the strategies you rely on, chances are they all have at least one thing in common. They all rely on people. 

Achieving your organizational goals starts with applying the right set of skills to them. It’s no wonder, then, that aligning HR with your corporate strategy is a crucial part of doing business. From your learning and development programs to your talent acquisition strategy, you’ll see better results if you keep in mind your business goals—as well as the financial planning that helps ensure you have the right resources to make them happen. 

Only by aligning human resources and business strategy will you keep on top of your workplace needs and the goals you hope to achieve. So start with the following:


Aligning HR Strategy With Business Strategy on All Levels

Before we get to how to align human resources with your corporate strategy, let’s talk about what we mean by alignment. Because alignment can happen on a range of levels—and the best strategies will take them all into account. That includes both vertical and horizontal HR strategy alignment. Here’s a breakdown of each:

What Is Vertical Alignment? 

Vertical alignment happens between various levels of your business. If your executives have built out a set of business goals, for instance, it’s up to your HR and workforce planning teams to align your own goals and actions to them. Only through this alignment will you be able to maximize all of your people and resources to ensure everyone is working towards the same set of outcomes—all of which contributes to business success.

But even when everyone’s working towards the same finish line, you can still find different departments using competing strategies to get there—which can be a drain on your team and resources. That’s why horizontal alignment is just as important as vertical alignment.

What Is Horizontal Alignment?

While they may all be contributing to a single strategy, it’s not unusual for every department to work within their own silo to get there. That can be wasteful and counterintuitive, not only affecting the efficiency of your business strategy but also potentially impacting your bottom line. By aligning with other departments and teams, HR can better determine which actions and projects to prioritize—and where resources should be allocated to ensure they’re achieved. Yes, your strategies should contribute to the big picture, but they should also complement each other so that everyone’s getting the most from your resources and team. 

4 Best Practices for HR and Business Alignment

With that in mind, how do you go about aligning HR and organizational strategy both vertically and horizontally—to make sure your HR team is working towards the right goals to help your business thrive? Start with these best practices.

1. Don’t Be a Silo

Great HR teams partner and collaborate across all parts of the business—and that collaboration is a key ingredient in building a strategy that aligns with your organization as a whole. True alignment means keeping in touch with the rest of the business and working together to create programs that complement each other. But HR should look further than that, casting an even wider net to the industry and market as well. Only by understanding the industry and current market will you be able to understand how to attract the best talent and better train the people you have. Then, by working in conjunction with other departments and truly understanding their needs, you’ll be able to determine how best to apply and augment that talent to achieve your business goals.

2. Know Your Culture and Budget 

Understanding your business goals is critical to HR alignment—but it’s also just the start. After all, your business is more than just a strategy and set of goals. Your organizational culture, for one, is just as key to the success of your HR plan and to achieving your organizational objectives. After all, in most companies it plays a substantial role in how your people work together and the type of new talent that will excel—therefore helping you reach those end goals. Your talent acquisition strategy and other tactics should be built with that organizational culture in mind so that you’re hiring the people who are most likely to thrive in your particular business environment and giving those already onboard the skills they need to navigate it. Just as integral: the budget you have to support your goals. The right HR budget could mean the difference between success or failure, helping you identify where you need to devote resources and where you can make cuts without affecting your game plan.

3. Put Your Data To Work

Measurement is key to HR success. Through accessible HR data and dashboards, you can begin to visualize your most critical metrics—analyzing where you’re falling short of your goals and where you’re thriving. And that workforce data can feed into your business plans. For true alignment, though, the KPIs you choose to follow should be relevant to your greater business goals—which means you shouldn’t limit yourself only to HR data. By integrating data across your business, you’ll be able to identify where and how HR decisions are impacting your business strategy—either for better or for worse. Integrating your data will also allow you to apply tools such as forecasting and predictive analytics, for a better idea of how your current HR decisions will impact future business success.

4. Align Your HR Activities and Team

Once you understand your business goals, budget and culture—and have the data to see where HR contributes to them and where it falls short—you can start getting to work. That begins by aligning your HR strategy and goals, of course, but there’s more to it than that. You’ll also need to identify the targeted actions you need to achieve those goals—then assign the right people to make them happen. Those actions should put you on a clearly defined path towards making your business strategy a reality. 

Why Successful Alignment Makes for a Successful Business 

When HR is aligned with your business goals, you can make better decisions around talent acquisition, retention strategies and training needs. You can work with finance to ensure the resources exist to fund those needs. And you can create efficiencies in your business by working with every other department too, to ensure you’re all taking complementary actions.

In doing so, you ensure you’re contributing to your business’s future success. And that you’re doing it as a team—with everybody doing their own part. 

And isn’t that what a successful business is all about?


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