By CHRIS CEPLENSKI
BLR Senior Editor
SAN DIEGO--As technology advances, HR will become more efficient, and that in turn will allow HR professionals to spend more time transforming the way work is done in their organizations, an author told the 57th Annual Convention and Exposition of the Society for Human Resource Professionals (SHRM).
David Ulrich, a professor of business at the University of Michigan as well as the author of a number of books regarding HR strategies, practices and competencies, spoke of the "HR value proposition," which
is also the name of a new book he co-authored.
He began by posing
the "fundamental message" of the HR value proposition: that
HR exists because "we create value." However, we must remember that
"value" is defined by the receiver more than the giver, Ulrich says,
and for HR that means that as highly we may think of programs and services we
provide, others must find them of value in order for them to be truly valuable.
Five Key Elements
Ulrich then laid out the 5 key elements to HR's creation of value, each of
which involves a number of criteria--and which are described in detail
in The HR Value Proposition book. He apologized to the audience for the
speed with which he needed to cover each element and explained that an outline
of the presentation had been posted online Monday evening so that attendees
could access it afterward. That website is open to the public and a comprehensive
explanation of the elements and criteria he touched upon can found by following
the link at the bottom of this article. Here, we provide a brief overview.
The first element of building an HR value proposition is to get to know
external business realities--to keep up with changing technologies, economics
and demographics in a global context.
The second element is serving external and internal stakeholders--customers,
investors, managers, and employees. This step involves:
- building long-term connections with target customers
- auditing and creating organizational capabilities that will turn strategy
- deploying a clear value proposition for employees that explains what is
expected from employees and what they will get in return
The third element is crafting HR practices that will create value. This
- investing in people--by buying, building, borrowing, boosting,
and binding talent
- investing in performance practices--by setting standards, allocating
rewards (financial and non-financial) and providing feedback
- investing in information practices--deciding what to communicate/share,
with whom to share information and how to share it
- investing in work practices--determining who does the work and how
and where it is done
The fourth element is to build HR resources. This involves having an
HR business plan that brings together strategy from the business, capabilities
from the organization, and action by HR to create results. It also involves
organizing HR to reflect the HR business plan. And this is where the transformation
of HR comes in--as HR "helps line managers deliver strategy through
capabilities; customers develop relationships, and investors increase confidence,
they transform the way work is done."
All of the processes such as hiring, training, and administrating compensation
and benefits, are transactions that are being completed with more and more efficiency
"through service centers, e-HR, and outsourcing" Ulrich explained,
and HR must focus more on transformation--which involves an overhaul as
to how HR is organized to assure it will be "governed in a way to deliver
The fifth element is assuring HR professionalism. This involves:
1) Playing the right HR roles--Ulrich poses that an HR leader's roles
are that of a functional expert ("We need to have functional knowledge
to help organizations grow"), a strategic partner, an employee advocate,
and a human capital developer.
2) Demonstrating the right HR competencies--Ulrich defined the areas in
which HR professionals must demonstrate that they are competent and have the
right tools. Specifically, HR must
- be business literate
- be able to learn to use technology
- gain the trust of those they serve, and
- be able to help the company deliver strategy
3) Investing in our own development--Ulrich says HR can do this by continuing
to invest time in learning by way of listening, observing, reading, and practicing.
"We are the values," Ulrich posed. "We should stand up and
present value for the people we represent." And, he concluded, each day
HR professionals should think of themselves as having and providing "more
than yesterday, less than tomorrow" in terms of value, underscoring that
we should increase the value provide by continuously growing and building.