February 22, 2016

HR as a Strategic Business Partner

HR to Strategic Business Partner… sounds wholesome! – gives out an inordinate impression and ultimately gives You a super power and a feeling of supremacy if everything- a result of your own effort combined with your employees, falls in order.  Transforming yourself to a strategic partner bequeaths you with more and more business statistics and refurbishes yourselves to a business savvy and a forward-looking professional.  Your behavior will reflect in your attitude and thereby creates a positive-cum-high performance culture giving out a tough competition to the prevailing business world.

HR supports Organizational Performance… How?

The role of Human Resources is growing vitally and essentially at every phase of the organizational development. The key functions of the Human Resources Management (HRM) team include Recruiting, Training, Performance Appraisals, Motivating Employees, Workplace Communication, Workplace Safety, etc.

Importance of Human Resource Management

HR has been evolved considerably from a state of only being a personnel management to a strategic business partner, i.e. grown to the role of Strategic Human Resources Management (SHRM).  Today, HR supports the organizational performance in a huge way to add a competitive edge vis-à-vis practicing the followings:

  1. Aligning HR Practices to organizational strategy & objectives.
  2. Introducing a Reward strategy focusing on ROI (Return on Investment).
  3. Knowledge sharing to promote innovation.
  4. Talent management & Succession planning.
  5. Employee empowerment.
  6. Continuous evaluation programme to maximize ROI.

HR practitioners need to comprehensively understand the business strategy and get into the guardianship role.  The primary focus of HR is of future-proofing and safeguarding the organization from the challenges.  The highlighters should be on:-

  • Company Reputation and Brand promotion.
  • Preventing Legal Issues.
  • Employee Satisfaction in the Workplace.
  • Social Behaviour and Expectations.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility.
  • Focusing on multitasking so that employees are prepared for future expansions.
  • Building trust by transparent work policies.

In the era of globalization, HR needs to put special efforts to understand the cultural differences.  It is utmost important to understand workplace values around the world, if engaged in a global business.

Hofstede theory enables you to understand and develop this attitude.  This theory was developed by Dr. Geert Hofstede in 1970s and stands as an apt model and a recognized standard to understand the five cultural dimensions.  Hofstede differentiates cultures on the basis of following dimensions: Power distance, Uncertainty avoidance, Individualism versus Collectivism, Masculinity versus Femininity and Long-term versus Short-term orientation.  This tool helps to get a general overview and a rough understanding of other cultures about the acceptable behavioral standards.

Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions

Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions

A better understanding of the model can be developed by viewing the same in a table format:

Cultural Dimensions Low High
Power Distance Democratic style of management Autocratic style of management- unequal distribution of power.
Uncertainty Avoidance Acceptance towards change.


Proper rules & regulations in place.  Employees not expected to take risks.  Prefer known systems.
Individualism Vs Collectivism Prefer Team-based assessment & collectively negotiated rewards. Prefer individual objection, Performance assessment & rewards.
Masculinity Vs Feminity Organizations may work more on relationship building and gender equality.

Modest & caring values.

Organizations may work more on difference rules for men & women.

Values assertive & competitive.

Long-term Vs Short-term Orientation Short-term based strategies & goals. Long-term perspective

Importance of HR Managing in (3) three different ways

  • Professional HR

To practice professionally, the HR personnel needs to possess and portray the typical features of a professional and should also possess special competencies vis-à-vis.

  • Expertise
  • Analytical & critical thinking.
  • Updated policies & procedures in place.
  • Ensuring best HR practices in workplace.
  • Highly committed to both employer & employees.
  • Focus on continuous improvement.
  • Creates continuous learning opportunities.
  • Keeping an eye both on internal and external changing factors revolving around the industry.
  • In-depth understanding of financial situations of the organization.

E.g. HR Professional, who has a good visionary about the organization, practices what is said and is a role-model to all the stakeholders.

Ethical HR

To practice ethically, which is a vital approach, HR personnel’s approach needs to be streamlined to the dos & don’ts of the business.  This approach helps to develop and maintain the positivity in the business, as it ensures trust and transparency.  This can be practiced by developing a corporate code of ethics viz.

  • Ensuring ethical approaches to business practices.
  • Implementing law justly and fairly.
  • Impartiality
  • Company reputation.
  • Employee loyalty.
  • Being fair at all times.
  • Being role model.

E.g. HR Professional, who designs and implements clear guidelines for the employees to practice and further challenges to any unethical practices, irrelevant of the person’s position.

  • Just Manner HR

 Following the guidelines

  • Law abiding.
  • Treat people with dignity & respect and ensure harassment-free environment.
  • Support decisions made are both legal and ethical.

E.g. HR Professional, who believes and practices in being just and fair to all.

Significance of developing policies aimed at

promoting key philosophies

The organizational policies need to be designed promoting the following key viewpoints:

  1. Equality- breaking down barriers
  • Ensuring equal opportunity to all.
  • Eliminating discrimination.
  • Gender equality.
  • Approachable
  1. Diversity- embracing differences
  • Celebrating differences.
  • Valuing everyone’s perspective.
  1. Justice & Dignity
  • Ensuring clear policies.
  • Ensuring full justice irrespective of positions.
  • Eliminating sexual harassment.
  • No child labour.
  • Eliminating victimization.
  • No bullying & harassment.
  1. Work-life Balance- focuses on family-friendly workplaces
  • Offering flexible working hours.
  • Avoiding long working hours.
  • Job share opportunities.
  • Special Leave to help with caring responsibilities and domestic emergencies.
  • Career Breaks.
  • Part-time work.
  • Teleworking / E-working.

HR need to have a deeper understanding of the industry in which they operate and moreover, need to  ascertain the competencies or weaknesses of the organization that will help to develop current practices and ultimately help the organization grow.

Evaluating HR Functions

HR plays an expanding role in supporting the strategic direction of the organization.  Due to the critical role that HR tasks perform, they need to be monitored and evaluated constantly.  A range of evaluating techniques are commonly used to prove that the HR contribution increases the value to the business.

  1. HR Metrics

 HR Metrics

HR Metrics is used to compute the cost and impact of the employee in order to measure the success and failure.  This method assists the management to identify the strength & weaknesses of the organization.  It gives a complete idea by identifying what needs to be improved and what needs to be capitalized on.

An organization can determine its success ratio with the help of this tool by analyzing their Staff absenteeism, Recruitment cost, Employee tenure, Employee turnover rate & Cost of each employee.

Benefits of HR Metrics

  • To ensure HR dimensions are aligned with organizational priorities.
  • To maximize returns on the competences and performance of their people.
  • To develop channels of HR effectiveness and impact.
  • Identify key areas of HR and streamline managers to focus upon.
  • To safeguard precision on priority issues that affect organizational performance.
  • To develop sustainable practices suitable for both challenging economic circumstances and organizational growth situations.


  1. Human Resources Dashboard

 HR Dashboard

HR Dashboard is used to monitor human resource utilization and employee productivity. HR Dashboards display metrics as benefit expenses, staff absenteeism cost, recruitment activity and payroll information.

HR Dashboard is a visible array of the HR metrics.  The dashboard helps the management to view all the HR metrics that is required to achieve goals at a glance.

Dashboard allows unlimited information on a single page- i.e. at one glance, effectively displaying vital information through charts, tables, visual indicators, and visual interactive excel sheets.  This is a powerful tool for any size of business. Effective dashboard allows management to set goals and keep a check on the progress of each and every business transaction & activity.

Benefits of HR Dashboard

  • To provide high level reports in a summarized form.
  • To monitor employee activities, headcount growth, expenses, revenues and profit & loss.
  • Time saving, as it gives an overall picture in one glance.
  1. Key Performance Indicators

KPIs act as a great measuring tool for tracking down the employee performance in aligning individual goal to business goal.  This periodical assessment of performance and activities helps to ensure overall progress.  KPIs are quantifiable gauging scale towards the agreed objectives that reflect the critical success factors of the organization.

Benefits of KPIs

  • To analyze the performance against the given tasks.
  • To create the right culture to drive high performance.
  • To ensure right people are retained with right progress.
  • To ensure everyone is focused on the key business objectives.
  • To understand the value of individual contribution.
  • To identify strengths & problems in delivering the results.
  • Cost saving by identifying the right method of getting the task done.


The research signifies the growing prominence of Human Resource Management in supporting and enhancing organizational performance.  Today HR has evolved from personnel management to Strategic Human Resources Management (SHRM).  The report emphasizes on the different activities under the control of HR and how it functions in a Professional, Ethical and Just Manner methods.  HR, to a great extent, has taken efforts to take cultural differences into consideration, while interacting and dealing in global business.  The Hofstede’s theory on cultural dimensions is described as an apt model for staying at par in the global business.  The research further enlightens on the significance of policies aimed at promoting the key philosophies; wiz equality, diversity, justice & dignity at work and work-life balance.  Additionally, it also clarifies the need of monitoring and evaluating the HR functions for being acknowledged in the front seat of the business.  The various helpful techniques viz. HR Metrics, HR Dashboard & KPIs were also briefly explained to familiarize the effectiveness of the report in analysing business activities.  It was also shown how helpful these techniques were in realizing the value added contribution of HR to the business.  The study summarizes the hands-on involvement and contribution of HR to any size of organization for further betterment.










An Article by :


Anita Simson

Manager- Human Resources & Admin.

Towell Mattress & Furniture Industry