Imagine it’s 2025, and HR is at the center of culture, learning and communication at your organization. Your HR team is now a strategic partner to the business, working alongside other leaders to drive your company’s success. The right data is instantly available when you — or your team members — need it to inform strategic modeling and dynamic planning.
Many HR leaders would love to turn that scenario into reality. But at most companies, evolving the HR function takes investments in technology, building new capabilities, and changes in processes that require buy-in from other business leaders — and getting that can be a challenge. So how do you get their support?
When CHROs propose building new capabilities, changing processes and priorities, or making investments in new HR technology, they’re often met with reluctance due to the cost involved — or skepticism that investments will pay off. This is especially true at a time when many business leaders are looking to cut costs and scale back resources.
But now might be precisely the right time to pitch leaders on transformation. During the pandemic, CHROs have led their organizations through some of the most challenging issues facing companies right now, including employee safety, remote working, upskilling, and mental health and social justice issues. HR has proved its value in helping to solve business problems.
What’s more, businesses are facing new and complex workforce challenges. Hybrid working, accelerated automation, the evolution of rewards and benefits, and other initiatives are fundamentally changing how businesses operate — and how and where people work. That means most areas of the business will continue to need HR guidance to navigate these and other workforce issues. Now that HR’s role has been elevated, it may be an ideal time to make a business case for transformation.
Whether your goal is a moderate tech upgrade or a complete transformation, you should focus on six areas that can help build a solid business case for HR evolution.
Evaluate HR’s role at your company. Has your team been focused primarily on functional or transactional processes? What must change in order to evolve? What are your successes? Your failures? If you want to persuade other business leaders to buy into your vision, take ownership of the team’s contributions (and/or shortcomings) to date.
Core functions like payroll, benefits management, risk and compliance, and onboarding need to be locked down, and investments in data strategies and a robust job architecture should not be left to chance. If your company’s business leaders see your team struggling with a basic function — like gathering and analyzing employee data, for example — they’ll be less likely to trust your advice and insight, and may not support a transformation.
Many organizations have invested in new technology systems but haven’t fully adopted it or taken advantage of all its capabilities. Take cloud technology, for instance. Despite investments, many companies that moved to the cloud are using only a fraction of its capabilities. Make sure you’re getting the value you can out of your technology investments, and use metrics to show how those technology-driven improvements benefit the bottom line.
Not all HR transformations need to be an end-to-end undertaking. Decide what to focus on first and then create a roadmap for the rest of the transformation effort. Determine what will have the biggest impact in the shortest amount of time. Building momentum through successes can galvanize your team and show the business that investments are paying off with tangible impacts and investment measurements.
If HR’s agenda is headed in one direction and organizational leaders are focusing elsewhere, you’re less likely to win support from the business. Instead, get in lockstep with the business so your team’s priorities clearly support those larger strategic initiatives. Demonstrate how any of HR’s proposed changes and tech investments will support the business strategy — and show how you plan to measure that support. Set goals and then produce hard metrics so other business leaders can see how you’re adding value.
Employee productivity is always critical, but it’s especially important at a time when many businesses are trying to accomplish more work with fewer resources. Increasingly, business leaders are looking to HR to show how they’re enabling employee productivity. Get tactical about identifying productivity measurements, defining business outcomes for HR and creating metrics for success.
Principal, PwC US
Workforce of the Future, HR Transformation Leader, PwC US