How Can Companies Raise the Bar on HR Programmes?

As HR takes on a more strategic role in the organisation, the pressure to bridge the gap between people programme outcomes and business goals also mounts. So how can HR professionals design programmes that deliver maximum impact on business?

How Can Companies Raise the Bar on HR Programmes?

31 Aug 2017 by  Abishek Mahadevan

In recent times, there has been growing awareness of the profound impact that HR programmes have on an organisation’s ability to achieve business objectives. As a result, HR must take on a more strategic—rather than transactional—role in order to bridge the gap between people programme outcomes and business goals.

Yet, despite the strategic importance of these initiatives, which can typically vary from the implementation of new service delivery models and innovative HR processes to the outsourcing of non-core activities, organisations still struggle to realise the maximum value of their HR programmes. In our recent State of HR Transformation study, only 12% of surveyed organisations were satisfied with their business, talent strategy, and programme design. The challenge most organisations need to address is the effective ‘contextualisation’ of HR programmes, to best meet their needs. 

How can HR programmes deliver maximum impact on business?

In our experience of delivering HR programmes for organisations across the region, there are three aspects that hold the key to enhancing impact and driving effectiveness:

1. HR Programme Design

To set the fundamental building block of an effective HR programme, inter-disciplinary linkages between different areas need to be established, based on the organisation’s maturity and operating environment. The challenge for HR is to ensure all its programmes have high levels of integration and synergy among them—ensuring that process gaps and isolations are addressed. For example, in reviewing a performance management system, how would it align with your rewards philosophy? And how would it integrate with learning and development opportunities?

2. HR Internal Capability

The sets of skills required to effectively deliver HR programmes to the business requires a different set of knowledge and competencies, which are broader than one functional HR area. Critical questions to answer include: Does the HR function have talent with the right diversity of skill sets? Is there clearly defined accountability between the roles for the Centers of Excellence and HR Business Partners? Are the right technologies in place to support the HR team in delivery?

3. HR-Business Partnership

Implementation remains critical to achieving the desired success parameters, and even a well-designed HR programme is unlikely to succeed if HR and line managers are not on the same page throughout the design and roll-out of an HR initiative. The best way around this is to leverage HR Business Partners, in order to create an effective delivery channel and consistently monitor the outcomes in implementation. 

What can HR do to strengthen relationship with business?


We have observed three areas that organisations can address with a view to develop their HR-Business interaction further:

  • Joint Planning and Implementation: Building a case for HR programmes requires a clear understanding of the impact it has on business. Involving business leaders in the planning processes and governance will bring an alignment ensuing business buy-in and support through implementation. Committees to oversee the design and implementation aspects of HR programmes can be quite helpful.

  • Developing Business Skills: The paradox for most organisations is that HR spends more time and effort on developing other functions, and often neglects their own team members. Organisations must strategically invest their time and money to ensure HR are provided the opportunity to develop additional skills efforts—focusing on business acumen, industry knowledge, and command of the internal business practices.

  • HR Operational and Business Metrics: High-impact HR organisations have evolved their measurement strategies to ensure efficiency, effectiveness and business alignment. For example, technology giant Google has developed a mathematical retention algorithm to proactively predict employees are most likely to leave, and putting measures to safeguard against this. At the heart of this is the ability to measure and monitor what matters. 

There is more to designing successful HR interventions than a robust design, or an innovative technical solution. A joined-up approach with the business, asking the right questions, and having a broader outlook for business needs is likely to lead to a more successful, fit-for-purpose output.

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Abishek Mahadevan

Abishek Mahadevan is a consultant with the Talent and Performance Consulting team in Aon Hewitt in Dubai, specialising in Leadership Development and Talent Management. He has extensive experience working with clients across 6 countries and diverse industries including Healthcare, Telecommunications, BFSI, Real Estate, Semi Government, and Government entities. He also has hands-on experience in project management, solution delivery, and client relationships.

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Abishek Mahadevan
Abishek Mahadevan
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