5 steps to drive HR strategy forward in times of change

Sarah Hulsey
Published on 20th April 2020
3 min read

HR and People teams are no strangers to hard work. In fact, in these unprecedented times, we know you’re working harder than ever to support your organization in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, we all know the feeling of being often all too busy focusing on the day-to-day job, especially in challenging times, that the strategy can get forgotten, or just isn’t as relevant as it was.

It’s often too easy, too, to wrongly push your health and wellbeing to the wayside, leading to a drop in productivity and in the worst case, burnout.

Perhaps it’s time for a reset, or simply a realignment. So, what can HR leaders do to drive strategy forward, all whilst maintaining productivity and avoiding burnout? Here’s our five steps.

1. Be clear about where you are with your strategy

How’s your strategy really shaping up?

Start by taking a benchmark of where your company and your team is according to your HR roadmap.

Think of the ‘stop, start, continue’ approach. What hasn’t worked? What do you now need to address? What do you want to achieve?

This will help you to confirm any gaps, especially in light of any challenges you’ve had since your strategy was last updated.

Talk it through with your team. Are you where you wanted to be with your strategy? Importantly, are your HR and People team where they wanted to be in addressing it? Which brings us to our second point…

2. Check you’re aligned to the rest of the business

If you’ve decided that your strategy is no longer supporting what you want to achieve, other teams in your organization are likely to be feeling the same way about their strategy.

Speak to the rest of the C-suite and understand what changes they’re making to their respective strategy. Make sure you’ve reflected any updates in your organization’s business strategy too.

Don’t disregard the helpfulness of the business strategy in updating your HR strategy. It’s not cheating – it’s making sure you’re aligned to the rest of the organization and working towards a common goal.

Taking the pulse of the rest of the business will ultimately help you decide whether it’s a case of tearing up the strategy and starting again, or re-working it to address the changes happening in your organization.

3. Adapt the HR and People strategy if you need to

Your original HR and People strategy may still be valid and relevant on the whole but it’s important to check that you’re still in line with what you want to achieve as a function.

However, there really is no harm in changing it if, unfortunately, certain aspects of your strategy are no longer possible or no longer aligned to the rest of the business.

If, in the wake of Covid-19, your priorities have changed or if you have a remote workforce, it may not be relevant to update your HR strategy considerably.

For instance, you need to move forward on wellbeing initiatives, or review all policies in line with the shifts happening in the way you work.

Once you’ve identified what might need to change, check in with each member of your HR team, either as a group or individually, to discuss it. Do they agree with the shift in approach? If not, is there anything that’s being overlooked? It’s important to make sure the team is on the same page.

4. Set new or updated goals and objectives for your team – both short and long term

To succeed in delivering against your strategy in times of change, your HR team will need clear goals and objectives.

If you’ve decided to amend the way you do things, it’s likely that your team’s goals and objectives might need some amending too.

For example, if your team were focused on driving office-based experiences and now the majority of your employees are working remotely, then it’s likely you’ll want to adapt your approach so that it’s more inclusive.

As the function who encourage development and goal setting, you’ll also be no strangers to what you need to do to act on your vision, but be mindful of the need for both short and long-term goals.

Particularly in difficult times, employees can often fall into extremes of feeling either completely overworked or under-utilized and HR teams are no different.

Reasonable timeframes and open conversations with each team member about the changes will highlight what is reasonable and fair to expect. It’ll help your team to stay on track and productive.

5. Don’t forget about your HR team’s wellbeing

The final but most important thing for you, as an HR and People leader, is to ensure your HR team feel supported through change.

At the end of the day, your HR team are still employees. Don’t let them fly under the radar when it comes to employee stress and burnout.

Whether it’s supporting your team to avoid burning the midnight oil, or making sure they’re not inundated with additional work brought up by employees or other departments, the wellbeing of your team is imperative.

Be sure to check in regularly to see how they are feeling, to ask if they need help with anything and give them the opportunity to raise any concerns they have.

Watch the webinar led by Sarah Hulsey, Head of Customer Success, and RSM’s Jennifer Busse, Management Consulting Director and Marni Rozen, People and Organization Management Consulting Director, where we’ll share five ways you can support your HR and People teams to be strategic and productive in the face of change.

Get the research

Browse more topics from this article

HR Strategy

You’re being put to the test