What is Strategic Human Resource Management?


With the right approach, your HR department can be a revenue driver for your organization. While daily tasks are important for helping your company operate, a strategic human resource management plan is what can help your company truly grow and attract the best talent in your industry.

But what is strategic human resource management exactly? Let’s explore both the specifics of the management practice itself and how to implement it for your company’s sustainable, long-term success.

What Is Strategic Human Resources?

Strategic human resources is a future-oriented process of cultivating and implementing HR programs that contribute to the company’s overall goals, including workforce development strategies. Where standard human resources practices focus largely on keeping your company running, strategic human resources focuses on how your employees can help your company achieve its overall goals. 

What Is Strategic HR Management?

Strategic HR management is the process of aligning a company’s human resources functions with its long-term strategic plan. It entails your management team looking beyond the day-to-day operational functions of your HR department, instead contextualizing their operations with your business goals. 

From there, strategic HR management helps you examine how your human resources department can help the entire company grow in healthy and sustainable ways while benefitting your most valuable assets—your employees.

The Benefits of Strategic HR Management

Better Recruiting Strategies

Reassessing your HR strategy’s role in your organization’s bigger picture allows your company to develop better ways to attract and retain the most qualified candidates. This in turn can help make the hiring process shorter, allowing your company to save time and expenses than it would without someone in the position for weeks or months on end. It also increases the quality of the candidates applying to work for your organization, as a shorter time-to-hire attracts the most qualified talent in your industry.

Increased Employee Satisfaction and Retention

When your HR department is taking a more strategic approach to its operations, it’s able to become more proactive in fulfilling employee needs and helping them reach their goals. In turn, your employees are more likely to be happy with the trajectory of their careers. That means they’re more likely to stay with your company in the long term, saving your organization money that it’d otherwise lose to turnover, hiring, and onboarding replacements.

Improved Policies and Processes

When your policies and processes are solidified and consistent across your organization, your employees notice it. Not only does it allow you to remain compliant with legal requirements and reduce complaints in the process, but it allows you to prioritize employee welfare, professional development, equity, inclusion, and productivity.

Putting strategic HR management at the forefront of your department or organization’s goals is also a great way to address issues before they become problems. That way, you can more easily solve the root of the issue instead of only being able to address its symptoms later down the line. Addressing issues more effectively also allows you to elevate your HR department from the enforcers of a handbook full of policies to guides who empower your employees and culture.

Clear Goals and Strategies to Achieve Them

Having established short- and long-term goals is what separates excellent, sustainable companies from those that struggle to grow. Without clear goals, they’re prone to constantly being sidetracked by pet projects. 

Because your human resources department is the beating heart that keeps your organization connected with your people, it’s essential to treat it as its own entity. In turn, setting clear goals for proactive solutions needs to start with them. A strategic HR management plan makes it easier to establish your company’s long-term overall goals and the roadmap your organization needs to achieve them.

How to Implement Strategic HR

Assess Your Needs

Every company has a set of needs that it can address, including in its HR department. Identifying these needs your HR department has can help you develop a more proactive approach to your overall strategy.

Some common strategic gaps HR departments face can include:

  • Labor shortage and recruiting challenges
  • Retention and employee (dis)engagement issues
  • Succession and exit planning
  • Career pathing and latticing
  • Upskilling and reskilling for technology disruptions
  • Boosting workforce productivity

These are just a few examples. Every HR department will have a unique set of needs, and it will require some data research and soul-searching from your HR team and leadership to determine what yours are.

You’ll also want to prioritize your HR department’s needs in terms of what’s most important to address first. For example, if your company has a high turnover rate, it might make more sense for your HR team to address that before they work on anything else. However, addressing some problems first—like a lack of adequate training programs—can make it easier to tackle those larger problems over time in more meaningful ways.

Determine Your Goals

Once your team has established your biggest pain points, you can use them as context for developing your goals. Using the EOS model and a vision/traction organizer (V/TO) format as inspiration can make it easier to establish possible goals for the next quarter, six months, and several years down the line.

At a glance, it allows your organization to:

  • Align your leadership and other stakeholders
  • Simplify your strategic planning process into overarching steps
  • Summarize its vision for both shorter and longer-term goals
  • Establish concrete benchmarks that support your vision

Build a Strategy

By building a long-term strategy, your HR team has the chance to showcase its ability to operate as a group of strategic partners. Develop strategies around your strategic HR management goals and assign leaders who will be in charge of implementing them. 

Once your team members know what their goals are and their expectations for achieving them, they’ll be equipped to roll out the strategies as part of their overall operations.

Put it into Action

This is the chance for your strategic HR professionals to show how they can get the job done. Your team should be given the bandwidth and means to dedicate time each week to implementing their strategic HR plan. This way, they’re able to keep the implementation plan moving forward without feeling like they’re treading water.

Once you’re able to implement your overall strategic HR plan, you may begin to notice other benefits for your organization. Breaking down the walls between your HR team and the rest of your company as part of the implementation process has a demystifying effect on traditional HR tasks. Even more, it allows everyone in the company to contribute in small ways to make it easier to grow as a team.

Evaluate and Improve

Strategic HR management is not something you can simply talk about once and then never revisit. Instead, you’ll want to implement regular evaluations as part of your action plan. Whether you find that you need to do them once a year, once a quarter, or even once a month will depend on the nature of your goals and the level of intensive monitoring they require.

However, you might not reach every single goal you want to hit with your strategic HR management plan in a given period. It happens. If that’s the case, evaluating on a regular basis also allows you to find ways to improve or adjust your execution to fit your goals.

Talk to the Strategic HR Experts

Ready to start paving the way for strategic human resource management to help your company grow? Take our HR health assessment and we’ll show you how having a strategic HR management expert in place can help you achieve greater success.

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