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Bringing Value to the Table

This is part of a special advertising section on the Outlook for 2012.

Sunday, October 2, 2011
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Don't just earn a seat at your company's strategic table. Set it.

In 2012, the question won't be how can HR get a seat at the table, but what value will you bring when you get there?

A recent Society for Human Resource Management survey identified the top 10 challenges for HR over the next few years, such as managing talent, improving leadership development and enhancing employee commitment. These challenges could likely be grouped into a core goal of maximizing your human capital. Also on the list -- transforming HR into a strategic partner.

Within all challenges are opportunities. HR's opportunity lies in bringing to the table evidence-based data and insight that will address the greatest challenges of today's workforces, from reducing labor costs to retaining top talent to fostering employee engagement.

Nearly every organization touts its people as its most important asset. Unfortunately, marketplace conditions have put a definite strain on this asset. The challenge to optimize human capital in our "do more with less" world hits organizations of all sizes and across all industries. If the workforce is truly a company's most strategic asset, the most important question facing employers today is: "How do we leverage that asset in the pursuit of optimal business performance?"

Regardless of whether your organization needed to add or reduce staff as a result of the recent tough economic times, understanding the underlying drivers of workplace productivity is critical. With the right tools and partners in place, two powerful productivity-enhancing activities can occur: 1) HR can provide the information needed to make good business decisions and recommendations, and 2) HR can minimize time-consuming transactional work and increase focus around strategic initiatives.

To get the most from your employees, you not only need accurate data, you need the right analytic tools to gain insights from this data. Leveraging a Software-as-a-Service provider for enterprise reporting and workforce management can open those doors.

Many legacy workforce-management solutions view the workforce simply as a cost to contain rather than an asset to be leveraged. Organizations that are still using disparate systems to capture their human capital data may find it is difficult to identify the relationships within the data that provide business insight. Therefore, it makes sense to invest in a modern, integrated workforce-management and reporting tool to help gather and correlate evidence to guide your decisions.

One of our customers, a property management company, shared its challenge in working with a variety of independent systems to manage its HR, timekeeping and payroll data. Because it was relying on an honor system to track time as well as manual-data entry, it had limited confidence in the accuracy of its data. In addition, it couldn't produce reports that would provide the depth and breadth of detail it needed to make wise decisions about the deployment of its staff. Only after it invested in a more integrated solution set was it able to reap the benefits of deeper insight into its business.

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Lean staff concerns also extend into the HR ranks, so having tools that can save these resources time and energy are extremely beneficial. We recently had a not-for-profit customer who, like many organizations, needed to create ad-hoc reports that would provide different views of HR and payroll data to improve their processes. Using an enterprise reporting system, they were able to quickly learn how to generate their reports and identify key workforce areas in which they could improve productivity. In addition to gaining valuable insight that could be shared with their strategic leaders, they also saved a large percentage of their time by having the information at their fingertips. When some of the more tedious administrative tasks are lifted from HR's shoulders, it allows your team to focus on the more impactful organizational issues.

While optimizing the workforce may be the big challenge facing businesses in 2012, it's also a great opportunity for HR to become a strategic force within its organization. By investing in the tools and expertise that can help you dig in and really analyze your workforce management, payroll and HR processes, you can not only earn a seat at the table, but bring accurate data and insights that will lead to the most efficient deployment of your workforce.

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