Building Better HR Business Partnerships to Thrive in the Resilience Economy

Today’s post comes to us from the executive director of The Workforce Institute, Dr. Chris Mullen, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP, SPHR.

I have some great news for you: Nine full months of 2020 are in our rearview mirror which means we’ve only got roughly two and a half months left of this, let’s say unusual and challenging year, to slog through. Like many of you, I am very hopeful that 2021 is going to bring less disruption and chaos and a lot more peace, harmony and business-as-usual.

Having said that, this year has certainly provided learning opportunities aplenty, and some research that UKG recently released along with our friends over at The Human Capital Institute (HCI) provides some interesting insight on a few of these lessons.

In a year when most businesses had to figure out how to update employee policies to include mask requirements, keep headcounts in line with changing revenue, facilitate remote work, address new government laws and relief measures, enable new safety procedures, and help employees cope with unprecedented change and upheaval, HR had a lot on its plate this year. Just treading water through all this was a feat, but to effectively overcome these challenges, every organization needs strong partnerships between the HR function and the business to synchronize their response to rapidly evolving conditions.

A note on those “rapidly evolving conditions”: I fall into the category of people who believe that change is one of the only constants in life, but boy, if there was ever a year that proved that out, it was 2020. We’re calling this constantly in-flux environment “the resilience economy”, and it requires a new level of agility from both HR practitioners and the people managers with whom they work to anticipate, rather than simply react to fluctuating needs of the business and its people. High value partnerships that set clear priorities through continuous communication and collaboration are now indispensable for sustaining organizations.

So, what did this research uncover about what successful organizations are doing to create strong partnerships between HR and the business? The below chart outlines the three major challenges organizations face when it comes to building strong partnerships between HR and people managers and how to overcome them:

A few data points to back up these findings:

  • 69 percent of HR professionals at high-performing organizations feel coaching and team development abilities are of high importance.
  • 76 percent of HR professionals at high-performing organizations feel consultation and collaboration skills are of high importance.
  • 58 percent of HR professionals at high-performing organizations feel maintaining knowledge of trends and evidence-based practices in HR is of high importance.

As I said at the outset of this post, I’m really hoping that 2021 turns out to be the well-behaved and boring sibling to the hellion that was 2020, but even if that does happen and next year is a serene voyage on calm waters, we need to take the lessons of 2020 with us and focus on creating the strongest possible relationships between HR and people managers as possible. If strong relationships can get us through a year like 2020, just think what we’ll be able to achieve in a “normal” year.

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