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Maximising the business impact of your HR function

Hadley Baldwin

Your HR function can make a big difference to the success of your business, but that difference inevitably takes time to come through – not least because you can’t change people’s attitudes and actions overnight.

You need to set your sights firmly on the future and make sure you take the right steps now. Often this involves avoiding following the herd and instead focusing on what really works.”

The power of counter-intuitive HR

When it’s done well, so it’s actionable, ownable and truly focused on your needs and aims, your HR function can really improve your business.

So how do you do it well? It can be tempting to do what everybody else is doing, also to do what seems at first to make the most sense. But this isn’t necessarily the right move – not least because a lot of good HR is counter-intuitive.

Here are a few key examples:

  • Studies show that if you get the recruitment right you will achieve a material gain in your growth and profitability. You might think therefore that you should increase the amount of time and money you spend on your recruitment. However, the better recruitment methods, such as direct hiring and referral programmes, tend also to be lower cost compared to the more reactive ones like using recruitment agencies. What’s more, studies have shown that the more candidates you can attract to apply for a role, the less time you need to spend interviewing.
  • You might think that bonuses drive up performance but more often than not they lower profitability. For a small number of roles, bonuses are a necessary evil to secure the right talent, but in this instance, they need to be carefully managed so they don’t undermine the long-term success of your business.
  • When looking for high potential people in your organisation, you might think line managers know their people best. However, in many cases managers overlook high potential people as they feel they are awkward to manage and may even resent them.
  • When looking to develop talent, people often think of training courses. However, there are many other more effective methods such as job rotation, regular feedback, mentoring and access to more senior people.

So don’t be swayed by what’s gone before or seems at first sight right. Focus your HR on what’s proven to work, no matter how counter-intuitive that might at first appear.