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The Strategic Direction of Human Resource Departments

The Strategic Direction of Human Resource Departments

A chessboard with chess pieces scattered across the board and a white piece of paper on it that says strategy.

Last Updated March 8, 2024

What is the current strategic direction of human resource departments? How will HR departments evolve? Traditionally, human resource departments have focused heavily on administrative duties, including managing records, processing standard transactions and dealing with compliance and legal issues. Today’s HR professional is also pivotal in high-level planning, consulting with top executives to chart strategic direction and shaping key policies. With more focus on talent as a strategic resource for the organization’s overall success, human resource professionals are obtaining more business insight and incorporating that knowledge into daily operations.

What’s Happening in HR?

The role of the corporate human resource department continues to transform from a purely administrative function to one that is instrumental in growing and reaching strategic business goals.

“HR is being asked to measure and explain how it affects the success of the organization – a request that is made of all critical areas of an organization,” stated Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM®) President and CEO Susan R. Meisinger, SPHR®. “HR professionals must be able to quantify their contributions if they are going to assist in setting the strategic direction of the business.”

Bringing It All Together

Aligning the strategic direction of human resource departments with organizational goals can mean greater success for companies that implement such innovative approaches. In a Workforce Management article, the founder of the Saratoga Institute, Jac Fitz-enz, commented that, “Too many people talk about matching corporate goals with departmental and individual-employee goals in philosophical terms, but they don’t establish methodologies to manage and measure the performance necessary to rev up employees and help them understand what the corporate goals are. In many cases, the corporate goals are considered applicable only to senior managers, not workers on the front lines.” He continued, “You want to create an environment where people don’t simply salute when given directions that seem to contradict business objectives, but instead challenge them.”

HR: By the Numbers

As HR continues to have a more pivotal role in companies, the strategic direction of human resource departments is also evolving. Many human resource departments endure ever-increasing workloads and additional responsibilities. Several human resource challenges are reported in The Bureau of National Affairs HR Department Benchmarks and Analysis 2015 report. Among this report’s key findings are:

  • The median per capita budgeted expenditure for HR departments in 2015 was $1,375, a decrease of six percent from the $1,465 expenditure per worker in 2014.
  • Budgeted increases in HR spending stabilized in 2015 at 4.2%, an increase from the figure observed since 2012.
  • Outsourcing of HR functions has become a widespread practice. Three out of four employers have outsourced one or more HR activities.
  • The single most important motivation for HR outsourcing is access to greater expertise, although for the largest organizations, cost savings is the most important factor.
  • HR departments are continuing a past decade trend of taking on more and more responsibilities. The percentage of HR departments taking on additional new responsibilities has more than doubled during the past 10 years.

Expected Growth in HR Industry

When it comes to human resources, training, and labor relations managers and specialists, the job outlook is good, which is a welcome change in this rocky economy. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment to grow 9% by 2024, which is faster than average for all occupations. As legislation and court rulings continue to set standards in various areas, including occupational safety and health, equal employment opportunity, wages, healthcare and family leave, there will be a much greater demand for qualified individuals in the HR field.

What Qualifications Do You Need to Succeed?

The BLS also states that previous experience is an asset for many specialties in the human resources field, and is essential for more advanced positions – with an advanced degree also being increasingly important. According to the report, “Applicants seeking entry as human resources specialists or labor relations specialists typically have a human resource degree or a degree in a related field. Many labor relations jobs require graduate study in industrial or labor relations. A  master’s degree in human resources, labor relations or in business administration with a concentration in human resources management is highly recommended for those seeking general and top management positions.” As the strategic direction of human resource departments evolves, so will the need for experienced HR professionals with graduate-level education.

How Can You Align Your Career Objectives With Corporate Goals?

Whether you’re examining the strategic direction of human resource departments, delving into your company’s goals and objectives or exploring your own personal career ambitions, Villanova University’s Master of Science in Human Resource Development has the answers you need. This graduate degree program will help you develop critical skills you can use immediately on the job and enhance your career. Villanova’s MS in Human Resource Development provides you with the pertinent knowledge and vital tools that have a direct impact in the rapidly changing world that encompasses law, regulations, human behavior, knowledge management and measurement. An HR Master’s degree from Villanova can help prepare you for the responsibilities of tomorrow and open the door for career advancement and leadership opportunities. This comprehensive program will teach you how to:

  • Use data and statistics to make informed business decisions
  • Identify principles for developing, utilizing and conserving human resources
  • Implement strategic organizational change for increased quality and productivity
  • Structure benefits packages and measure their success
  • Construct an effective training program
  • Design a compensation system that motivates employees
  • Leverage technology to enhance the contributions of the human resource function
  • Develop essential financial management and budgetary skills