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What VPs and CEOs Want from HR

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"People are our most important asset"—a motto lived by the best corporate leaders and preached by top companies. But, how many HR professionals deem it void of sentiment — a corporate cliche at best? According to the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA), many senior HR executives continue to believe that they lack impact and influence within their companies.

Think your CEO or VP isn’t concerned about HR? Think again. The HRPA also reports that CEOs are looking to their HR leaders to consult them on the key challenges ahead — particularly in matters pertaining to managing across generations, continuous change management and communications in the age of social media. So if you want to talk to your executives about your recruiting initiatives, know that they share your interest. Just understand what VPs and CEOs want from HR before you pitch your ideas.

Build a Business Case

While executives do care about HR and will listen to your ideas, gaining executive support still takes strategic approach and preparation. When it comes to reaching out to your executive team, it’s important to show how a change in recruiting strategy directly correlates to the company’s goals.

HRPA reports explain that if HR professionals want to be more valuable to the business, they need to align the HR organization strategy with the business strategy. To do this, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can we improve our current HR approach in order to strengthen current business practices?
  • Is our company suffering because of weaknesses in our recruiting efforts?
  • Are we attracting, hiring and retaining top quality hires or candidates with specific skill sets that will empower the business to succeed?
  • Do we currently have the right people in place to lead the organization to success?
  • What can meaningful improvements in recruiting be worth to the company?

Think Bottom Line

Forbes agrees that today’s HR leaders must evolve to become strategic business forces within their enterprise. Because CEOs expect strategies to be built upon meaningful results, consider the areas within your organization that have the largest impact on the bottom line. 

For instance, consider the current state of talent acquisition. With an increasingly competitive race for top talent, employment branding is more important now than ever before. How does this affect the company’s bottom line? Well, a Talent Trends 2014 report found that 56 percent of Americans ranked the company’s employment brand as the number one deciding factor in whether or not they would take a new job. By starting with facts that can’t be ignored, you can create a case and win support for your initiatives.

Don’t Make Excuses

Sometimes we make assumptions that just aren’t true, and these unsubstantiated roadblocks can hold us back from implementing positive change. Instead, recognize these nonexistent barriers so that you can make progress toward improving your HR results. If you catch yourself thinking any of the following statements, it’s time to reconsider:

“My CEO is too busy”
Yes, your CEO is busy, but that’s exactly why top executives of every company hire and count on HR professionals to deeply understand how HR functions are affecting the company’s goals. They also expect that if a HR situation does come up when they are needed, you will take initiative and reach out to them.

PwC 18th Annual Global CEO Survey reports that 73 percent of CEOs are increasingly worried about finding talent with the right skill set. Knowing this, it’s very likely that your CEO will make time to meet with you about attracting or retaining the best talentno matter how busy they are—if you’ve got a plan to address this growing concern.

So don’t be afraid to request a meeting with CEO; just keep it short and get to the point. Then, as long as you utilize hard facts to clearly explain how your new plan is projected to impact the business, your CEO is bound to want in.

“We shouldn’t change our current HR strategy”
Sometimes HR professionals discover new, more effective HR tactics that could better support the company’s current strategy and direction. However, they hesitate to propose these tactics because it could mean “rocking the boat.” But sometimes organizations and HR professionals must instigate change in order to stay up-to-date and aligned with the current business strategy.

Especially in a constantly evolving world, it’s not rare for a company’s overarching goals to change. This means it's also expected that each of its departments must readjust to these changes and realign themselves with the new plan. Because most executives understand this, they are open to updating and/or changing current departmental practices when it makes sense.

So if you know that a new HR tactic will benefit the current business plan, your executive will want to hear it. Just be sure to explain what these results will be for the company, and why your HR department’s current tactics don’t allow you to achieve these results.

“HR technology is not a priority
If you’re hesitating to request a budget increase for new HR technology, don’t assume that your request will be denied. According to Reuters, companies around the world are planning to increase and redirect their investments in HR technology as they embrace talent management solutions, HR portals, software-as-a-service (SaaS) systems and mobile applications.

With this trend only rising over the next few years, it’s clear that savvy CEOs and VPs consider HR technology to be a priority and are willing to invest in it. The PwC 18th Annual Global CEO Survey also states that 58 percent of CEOs believe that digital technologies deliver value in sourcing, developing and retaining talent.

So make your business case and be prepared to provide your executives with specific solutions, cost information, and the associated benefits. Be sure to relate these benefits to overall business functions so that your CEO understands the big picture. For example, explain that recruitment technology will enable you to recruit and hire better-fitting employee, which can strengthen the company and reduce costs associated with turnover and new hire training.

Bersin by Deloitte predicts that employee engagement, feedback and company culture will become CEO-level topics in 2016—further revealing that HR is becoming increasingly significant. Today’s executives understand that their companies can only be successful when they have the right employees onboard, which is only possible when they have successful HR practices in place. So as long as you present your new HR initiatives with confidence and convincing data, your executives will listen and likely support you.

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