How to Get Your HR Department a Strategic Seat at the Table

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As we’ve mentioned previously, HR can get a bad reputation internally (think Toby from The Office). It’s the responsibility of leaders to help overcome this and empower HR to be the strategic change makers that they should be. Take an honest look at how your HR department is seen by your employees, and then follow these words of advice from Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs on how leaders can revamp their HR’s likability:

Leaders set the tone

Employees take their cues from management, with middle management holding significant influence within the leadership pipeline. During times of raises and discipline, it’s well-known that managers will often “place the blame on HR.”

“Too often, HR is relegated to the role of doling out bad news, or enforcing confusing or outdated company policies. But the leaders of companies need to support HR in truly being advocates for the company’s employees,” explains Sutton Fell.  “It’s long been talked about, but HR truly needs a “seat at the table” and to be recognized for the huge role they can and should play in the company’s success.”

Play up their strengths

Human resources teams do not exist to kill the fu. In fact, there are many positive qualities of a strong HR department. The trick is for leaders to be strategic about how HR is represented. Instead of representing HR as the “gatekeepers,” highlight their positive contributions to employees– many of which might go unseen.

“Whether it’s helping create and maintain a strong company culture across teams and locations, or making sure people’s jobs and lives aren’t at odds with one another, or guiding employees through crises outside the office by making work a more supportive atmosphere, HR has so many positive roles to play in an organization. And it’s up to leaders at the company to make sure their HR team is seen as the ‘good guys’ rather than the other way around.”

Take steps to repair the damage

If your organization suffers from negative HR syndrome, there are ways to turn it around. The problem might stem from a misalignment between your human resources team and business objectives.  That’s not an “HR issue,” but instead a leadership oversight.

“One of the first steps is to make sure your HR team is clear about their overarching mission and goals within the company, and how all of that ties into the company’s business objectives. Regardless of what’s happened in the past, company leaders need to reset the clock and help HR to see themselves in a fresh light, with a positive, employee-focused mission. From there, it’s a matter of reworking processes and operating procedures to reflect these changes, and having regular communication with employees to let them know exactly how HR is there to support them.”

Leveling the playing field

If there’s a lack of respect directed towards your human resources department — or any department, for that matter– your company could be missing out on their valuable contributions. An organization stands stronger together than fragmented, so it’s best to be proactive about addressing the situation with your leaders and teams.

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