Adopting a Balanced Approach to Creating a Strategic HR Organization

Adopting a Balanced Approach to Creating a Strategic HR Organization

Carlos Larracilla Carlos Larracilla
7 minute read

A Strategic HR Organization encompasses plans and actions of a comprehensive network of HR professionals, leaders, and stakeholders dedicated to the design, execution, and enhancement of strategic human resource management efforts within a business. This construct goes well beyond conventional (transactional) HR, emphasizing the alignment of HR strategies with the overarching business goals. By fostering a collaborative and systemic approach, a Strategic HR Organization aims to leverage human capital efficiently, ensuring the company's workforce is well-equipped, engaged, and aligned with the enterprise's mission and vision.

Such a strategic approach underscores the importance of dynamic organizational alignment, adaptation, and advancement through continuous evaluation and improvement to ensure sustainability. It also focuses on the proactive activation and acceleration of its talent to maximize its impact, making HR not just a supporting function but a growth enabler in steering the company's future direction, which extensively showcases HR’s evolving role.

The criticality of using a balanced approach to creating a strategic HR organization

In a challenging business and labor environment that creates struggles to keep up with the accelerated pace of change, running an effective, efficient, and desired organization may seem difficult. When adding a desire for companies to maintain and transcend that state, then almost feels utopian. In essence, what organizations aspire to is to be “sustainable”. By definition, a sustainable organization is able to maintain healthy financials, satisfied customers, effective processes, and an engaged workforce that keeps learning and growing on an ongoing basis.

The key is to maintain a balance across the critical dimensions at play. We have already seen successful and enduring examples of this in strategic approaches such as the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) and later the HR Scorecard introduced a long time ago, which translate an organization's vision and strategy into a coherent set of performance measures critical dimensions of a business health and corresponding metrics in the managing of a company. Other approaches have also emerged, including OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) and Agile performance management. The principles and focus on holistic, adaptable, and balanced dimensions originated with the BSC methodology have influenced many of these newer approaches. The reason is that creating sustainability through balance is a universal law of nature.

In following these principles, establishing a sustainable strategic HR organization requires the integration, harmonization, and balancing of diverse fundamental dimensions aimed at keeping the workforce and the organization in a virtuous cycle of learning and growth.

The dimensions of an integrated talent and organizational sustainment framework

At Wowledge, we have created a comprehensive blueprint we call the “Integrated Talent and Organizational Sustainment Framework” that represents a holistic approach to the areas that a strategic HR organization should drive to maximize its impact on the business and workforce in the type of rapidly evolving environment faced today.

This framework ensures that every HR initiative propels the company closer to its goals. Navigating the complex interplay of dynamic external changes and internal demands represents a systemic HR approach emphasizing a harmonious balance across vital dimensions. These dimensions —ranging from organizational alignment to continuous improvement— not only pave the way to providing the business with a competitive advantage rooted in its human capital but also fortify the organization's adaptability and long-term sustainability.

Wowledge's integrated talent and organizational sustainment framework

1. Organizational Alignment

An essential function of strategic HR organizations is to ensure that company strategies, resources, and employees' efforts are in sync. When HR ensures that its initiatives are prioritized and every policy, process, and program is directly tied to the broader business objectives, the company can foster unity and efficiency in the pursuit of its near and future strategic ambitions. The specific practice categories that enable this dimension include crafting strategy, developing plans, designing the organization, and envisioning the future of work.

2. Organizational Adaptation

In an era of unprecedented change, the capacity for a strategic HR organization to enable company-wide adaptation is crucial. By building resilience, flexibility, and an inclusive culture, HR helps the company to respond to internal and external shifts swiftly, be those market disruptions, technological advancements, or changes in workforce dynamics. This agility is fundamental for maintaining a competitive edge and achieving long-term sustainability. The specific practice categories that enable this dimension include nurturing diversity and opportunity, managing change, shaping experiences, policy, and culture, and facilitating collaboration.

3. Talent Activation

The workforce is rapidly transforming, not only in terms of the types of skills and capabilities available in the market but also regarding the way people choose to work, whether as employees or contingent workers, freelancers, or as part of the gig economy. Organizations need to design programs in ways that leverage these dynamics to maintain effective and efficient business operations. By engaging and leveraging the full spectrum of workers, strategic HR organizations tap into a vast, versatile talent pool, driving innovation and providing the agility to scale resources in line with market demands. The specific practice categories that enable this dimension include attracting talent, accessing talent in the market, and engaging it.

4. Talent Acceleration

Due to the rapid adoption of emerging technologies, as well as the evolution of market demands and skill requirements, organizations need to prioritize the rapid development of employee competencies and career pathways. Strategic HR organizations ensure the company has a robust, skilled, and prepared workforce, ready to take on emerging opportunities and challenges, thereby securing the company's future and competitive position. The specific practice categories that enable this dimension include augmenting talent capabilities, as well as developing, managing, and transitioning talent.

5. Organizational Advancement

For a strategic HR organization, the ability to continuously learn and advance is vital in fostering a culture of perpetual growth and evolution. By championing experimentation and continuous improvement, HR ensures that the function doesn't just react to changing business needs but actively shapes forward-looking programs that help the business and individuals thrive. The specific practice categories that enable this dimension include provoking experimentation, conducting analysis, and generating insights.

When organizations fail to leverage all five dimensions, they face challenges in harmonizing their goals, effectively adapting to changing conditions, maximizing the impact of their human capital, and ultimately sustaining their operations in the long run. It generates shortcomings that often lead to inefficiencies, decreased engagement, lowered retention of top talent, and a lack of competitiveness, hindering the company’s ability to thrive in an ever-evolving business environment.

The evolving role of HR

As businesses grapple with rapid technological changes, geopolitical shifts, and a dynamic global talent market, the need for a proactive and agile HR function has never been more pressing. An HR organization that has been able to incorporate a balanced and sustainable approach to their strategic efforts, aligns itself with these evolutions, playing a critical role in translating business objectives into human capital strategies. As they build strong relationships with business leaders, develop an understanding of industry trends, and leverage technology, strategic HR organizations ensure that the business and workforce is not only prepared for the future but thrives in it. 

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