How every executive can be a better advocate for their HR team
HR teams are often taken for granted.
They don’t directly drive revenue for your business. They aren’t building flashy products. They don’t work directly with your customers every day.
But your HR team is an integral piece of your organization, and they’re probably struggling right now.
If you’re an executive, here’s why you should be concerned and how you can help by being a better advocate for your HR team.
HR’s workload is way up (and that’s dangerous)
Your HR team is probably overworked.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced rapid change upon companies across the world. Within a few weeks or months, companies everywhere had to adjust policies, provide safety equipment, deal with lockdowns, and more. Several years later, we’re still dealing with the impacts.
On top of direct COVID adjustments, the past few years have also brought historic highs in employee resignations. Every time an employee leaves your organization, you need to offboard them. Then you need to recruit replacements, train and onboard them, and get them set up with all of the appropriate systems, benefits and programs.
Who makes all of this happen?
Human resources. Your People team. Call them whatever you’d like (heroes might be appropriate, given the outsized effort they’ve been putting in).
If all of the above isn’t enough, they’re also still doing their best to support your existing employees while helping you achieve your company goals.
All of this additional work has come without much recognition or fanfare, and that puts your HR team at risk of burning out.
You’ve already invested time and money into many different systems
When your HR team breaks down, the wheels fall off.
If human resources isn’t running effectively, you’ll feel the pain of it across your entire organization. For instance, pause and think about all the different investments you’ve already made as a company:
- Benefits programs
- Engagement programs
- Recruiting systems
- Legal and compliance systems
- Payroll systems
- Training software
Each of these systems plays a vital role in your company. And they all likely run through HR in some form or fashion.
But do you know what percentage of your workforce are actively using these systems?
Studies have shown that at least a third of employees don’t understand the benefits they’re enrolled in (and maybe more, if your workforce is younger). If a third of your workforce doesn’t even understand their benefits, odds are that they aren’t using the systems and programs you’ve put in place already. Reasons for this can range from a lack of awareness to lack of understanding to a lack of access.
If your employees aren’t participating in the programs and systems you’re paying for, you’re burning cash. And while you’ll need to do some work to understand how to change that, tools like Anthill make it easy for you to open up the lines of communication with employees (without putting another big burden on your HR team).
How to be a better advocate for your HR team
Your human resources team is the glue holding your organization together.
Given their importance, and assuming that you’ve already invested loads of time and money into systems and programs for your workforce, it makes sense that advocating for your HR team should always be a priority.
Here’s how you can get started.
Listen and ask questions
HR professionals are just that. Professionals. They typically know their stuff and are passionate about serving the people in your company. Chances are they’re already aware of issues that need to be addressed or programs that can be improved.
When’s the last time you sat down for a chat (or a Zoom call) with the folks on your HR team?
Advocacy starts with understanding.
The best way for any executive to start supporting their HR team is through making time for conversations. Make it a priority to connect regularly, and don’t come prepared with your own agenda. Focus on asking open-ended questions to help you better understand the challenges, frustrations, and opportunities they see.
Take good notes during your conversations, and prove your commitment by taking action on what you hear.
Empower and trust them as partners
There’s a growing trend among some industries to rename certain human resource roles to “HR Business Partners.” While you may or may not love the name, it raises a good point.
Your human resources team should function as your partner. As an executive, you’re probably laser-focused on achieving whatever goals are relevant to your company and department. Regardless of your experience with HR in the past, you can reframe the way you think about human resources.
- HR isn’t a necessary evil; it’s a critical asset to achieving your goals.
- HR isn’t an admin center; it’s a strategic resource to growing your business.
- HR isn’t just there to deal with troublesome employees; it’s responsible for the entire employee lifecycle and experience
Don’t fall for these common stereotypes about your HR team. When trusted and empowered, your HR team becomes a valuable and strategic part of driving your organization’s success.
Invest in training and development
The world of human resource management is constantly changing and evolving. And since HR professionals serve so many different roles and functions in your company, they need continual training and development to be at their best.
Investing in training and development for your HR team ensures that they’ll be equipped to deal with any people-related challenges that arise in your company. Perhaps more importantly, these investments also send a strong signal to your HR team that you care about and value them.
In a world where voluntary employee turnover is skyrocketing, finding ways to engage and value your team goes a long way towards employee retention.
A number of great HR training programs are available, depending on your team’s needs.
Invest in a help desk for employees to alleviate work on HR
Human resource teams deal with a constant influx of questions and concerns.
- Where’s my insurance card?
- How do I change my address for payroll?
- How do I set up direct deposit?
- Why is my paycheck late?
- How do I refer someone for an open role?
The questions are endless. And often repetitive. And time-consuming.
By making smart investments in technology, you can take the burden of answering these repetitive questions off of your HR team. Help desk software can handle things like routing inquiries, automating certain requests, and providing answers to frequently asked questions.
Help desk solutions aren’t one-size-fits all. Most are built for office workers, and require access to a computer or app to get help. When you’re a deskless worker in the field, that’s not a great option (and it’s why we built Anthill, which works easily for any employee via secure text messages).
The right technology should amplify what your team is capable of. For an HR team, technology can set them free from repetitive tasks. That means instead of spending hours each day responding to messages, they can focus on more complex or strategic tasks and projects.
Projects that move your organization forward.
Start advocating for your HR team today
Providing support for your HR team has far-reaching effects that ripple across your entire company.
Given that huge potential, ignoring this opportunity makes bad business sense. Whatever the state of human resources at your organization is right now, the question is the same:
What will you do to make it better?