Summit news: HR must build up network to contribute to business strategy

HR should be networked into a business if it is to play a key role in contributing to business strategy.

Speaking in the closing session of the Employee Benefits Summit in Jerez, Peter Reilly, director of research and consultancy at the Institute of Employment Studies, said: “You need to be networked in to be effective. There is a danger sometimes that business strategy and HR strategy are like passing ships. What you want is the people bit to be at the heart of the business.”

He added that the best way of achieving this is to have one overall strategy covering all areas. A number of factors can affect the linkage of these areas, however, including the degree and timing of HR involvement in issues, the extent of change permitted by the organisation, and business planning.

Employers should also consider both internal and external factors if they are to successfully link up with business strategy. “If you are trying to connect a business and HR strategy, what you are really trying to do is look at things that are happening inside and outside [the organisation],” said Reilly.

One of the characteristics of strategic HR is that it is a philosophy underpinning people management. Reilly explained that line managers are particularly important in ensuring messages are passed to staff. “[Line managers] are the conduit through which employees learn about the organisational culture,” he said.

Reilly added that cynical line managers will pass on contrary messages to staff, rather than those desired by the business.