How you can have a credible voice in the C-suite

HR professionals need to start speaking the same language as the board, a report from one of the world's largest corporate law firms says

HR professionals need to wind back the day-to-day focus and start speaking the same language as the board in order to cement their position as a strategic partner, a report from one of the world's largest corporate law firms says.

Eversheds, in conjunction with business intelligence experts, Winmark, has just released a report entitled Navigating the Future: HR 2020.

The report surveyed 75 UK HR and non-executive directors of major firms, looking specifically at the future of the HR function. The report’s key observation was the potential for the HR profession to redefine its role at a more strategic level.

“HR has played a significant part in the growth and survival of organizations in recent years and it now has a real opportunity to cement its position in steering the strategic direction of organizations,” London-based partner and head of the human resources group at Eversheds, Martin Warren, said.

“Economic, social and technological change puts HR at the forefront of organizational development, with HR holding many of the solutions to today's business challenges.

“However, HR departments need to ensure they are tuned into the same frequency as other areas of the business if they are to fully realize their impact. Key to this is speaking the same language as other areas of the business.”

While talent management is a perfectly valid priority for an HR director, it doesn't articulate the wider business objective it is supporting, Warren said.

“HR directors who discuss problems and opportunities in terms of financial implications and risk profile are more likely to have the ear of the rest of the business.”

The report focused on pensions and human rights – two issues when new regulations are due to come into force in the UK.

Over half of the respondents said they saw the responsibility for pensions-related issues sitting with HR, yet 41% said they had no planned changes in the pipeline in preparation for the pension freedom and change agenda.

The report revealed the majority (92%) of HR directors are focused on attracting and retaining talent within their organization, with succession planning (81%) and employee engagement (78%) also high on the agenda.
'With shortages of candidates in skilled roles set to increase significantly, it is unsurprising that this is where HR directors are currently focused, but it does highlight a somewhat narrow perspective,” Warren said.

“Ironically, it is broad, lateral thinking that will help to win the war for talent and HR directors have an important role to play in building a genuinely diverse workforce for the long-term benefit of the wider business.”

Diversity isn't just about ethnicity or gender, it is about creating a workforce which fits into a more flexible and technologically advanced era of doing business, Warren said.

“Mobile and online technologies are enabling people to work remotely and collaborate across different countries and time zones, while organizations rely less on employees alone and are willing to explore other resources such as contractors and service suppliers.

“Tomorrow's HR leaders are those who will correctly assess the impact of these trends on their organization and plan accordingly.”

Read the report at

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