The following reasons explain why it is important for HR to be a strategic partner to the business:
One of roles of an active HR department is to ensure that a business has adequate employees with the right mixes of skills to handle all the functions of the business. This, they achieve through enhancing the skills of employees through training and development, which equips them with the necessary skills they need to meet the business demands. Employee training helps to increase the profitability of the business since workers have the skills to perform their work better (DeCenzo, & Robbins, 2006).
HR management as a strategic partner to a business justifies sufficient funding to the business from investors due to the numerous HR activities. Funding for competitive salaries, employee development and training, as well as benefit packages help to reinforce the competitiveness and position of the business in retaining and attracting valuable talent and skills. It is important to note that without the expertise and talents of workers, the business has high risk of losing its production capabilities, which can adversely affects its returns, profitability and competitiveness (DeCenzo, & Robbins, 2006).
Traditionally, the operations of HR departments have been viewed by workers and the business leadership to be limited to administration. However, the HR has developed over the years to become a department which has a greater influence on the workers’ retention, satisfaction, and engagement among others, though many people are still unaware of this. Therefore, by being a strategic partner to a business, the HR departments will help change the perception that employees have about them.
By including the HR as a strategic partner of the business, there is a strike of balance in the organization, as the HR brings with it a broader perspective about various issues to the boardroom table (DeCenzo, & Robbins, 2006). This implies that the HR as a strategic partner ensures that better decisions are made in the business, as the input of the actual workforce supporting the success of the business is considered.
HR as a strategic partner is very valuable in the development of strategic plans of the business, as the input of the employees is vital when planning how to achieve the organizational goals (DeCenzo, & Robbins, 2006).
The Benefits the Employees Derive from This Arrangement
Active HR departments understand employees in terms of their needs and expectations, which range from family issues (child care, sickness etc), better working conditions, to employee development through advanced education. That is why including HR as a strategic partner to the business, will enable them find ways to ensure that employees balance between work and the above issues so that both the company and the employees benefit (Mathis & Jackson, 2010). Technology has created endless ways of performing work, and the HR department can decide to allow a worker with family issues to work from home, until the issue is resolved. He will still be able to produce results and transmit to the office through the internet, while having time to take care of his problem. Such employees feel cared for and appreciated by the organization, and in turn, they become more loyal and productive to the company.
Another benefit is the fact that the input of the employees will heard at the company’s board meeting i.e. HR as a strategic partner is the voice of employees in the company that advocates for strategies that benefit the employees. With the HR department as an active part of the business’s management, the employees are assured of their complaints and issues being handled appropriately. Training and development of employees by the HR will also benefit them to increase their skills and experience in handling various tasks. Such skills will benefit them even after leaving the company (Mathis & Jackson, 2010).
The Risks Involved (To HR, the Organization as a Whole) If HR Does Not Make This A Priority and Instead Remains a Purely Task-Oriented Department Mostly Administrative In Nature
As mentioned above, there are numerous benefits the HR brings to the company by being a strategic partner. Therefore, without the HR as a strategic partner, strategic planning on how to achieve the organizational goals and objectives may not be successful, since the input of employees that is represented by the HR, is vital in the business’s decision making process. This can be a big blow to the organization, as it risks losing money it invested in the failed strategy. The risk of loosing external funding from donors is also a major challenge to organizations when the HR is not a strategic partner (Mathis & Jackson, 2010). This is because, the business will not have any justification on why it requires funding, and this can be detrimental to the overall productivity and performance of the business. The HR department on the other hand, risks loosing its respect from employees, and rightful position in the company by not being an active partner in the company. Workers and the business as a whole will continue mistaking the HR’s role to be only limited to administration, and that can be demeaning.