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Faces of HR: Best of HR Leadership

Analysis  |  By HR Daily Advisor  
   August 07, 2023

The role of HR leaders has shifted from traditional practitioners to strategic partners.

This article was first published on August , 2023, by HR Daily Advisor, a sibling publication to HealthLeaders, and has been adapted for HealthLeaders.

Human resources (HR) leaders in healthcare can learn and take valuable information from HR leaders in other sectors. In this article, celebrate HR professionals who continue to help move the needle forward in the industry.

The past few years, HR leaders have played a critical role in helping their organizations navigate not only the COVID-19 pandemic but also an increasingly complex and competitive business landscape. Additionally, the workforce at large is changing with the shift to hybrid work, advances in technology, and talent seeking opportunities where they are recognized and engaged.

As a result, HR leaders have stepped up to meet these challenges, proving they more than deserve a seat at the table. In this week’s Faces column, we spotlight HR leaders we’ve previously featured, highlighting their insights on how HR leaders can continue to effectively demonstrate their value to their organization.

It starts with linking the organizational strategy with the people strategy, according to Susan Lowe, Chief People and Sustainability Officer at Fuel50, a skills-powered talent marketplace. “It is a critical driver of the overall success of the business,” Lowe shares. “I also think HR can make sure it has a good level of commercial acumen and use this when presenting business cases to leadership teams and the board. Equally, reporting on value delivered through metrics but also business case reviews. A lot of the work HR does to deliver value can happen in the background, so bringing this to the fore through reporting, ROI demonstrations and celebrating success also helps to ensure the value is directly attributed to the HR initiative and the leadership team sees and understands the impact.”

Eryn Marshall, Senior Director of Global Recruiting at Oyster, an employment platform dedicated to creating a more equal world by making it possible for companies everywhere to hire people anywhere, agrees, noting that HR leaders should take it a step further.

“Beyond standard metrics, what was the impact of the work the team did,” Marshall says. “Did you save the company money? Did you increase retention or time to fill open positions? Having the ability to measure those things and speak to what the leadership team needs is a key to HR’s success.”

For Lynee Luque, Chief People Officer at personal finance company NerdWallet, building a pipeline of talented employees and fostering a culture where they feel empowered to grow are key. “To achieve this, I believe it’s crucial to transform DEI efforts from being a separate initiative, into something that is fully integrated throughout the business, present in every aspect of the employee experience,” Luque says.

“Additionally, we can demonstrate our value by not only keeping up with the rapidly changing workplace landscape, but by staying ahead of it,” she continues. “It’s fitting that in my time at NerdWallet, the biggest shift in the space has been the shift to remote work. At NerdWallet, our remote-first ethos is founded in the idea of flexibility, and we’ve gone a step further. Empowering our Nerds to prioritize life outside of work as needed is important to us, we see several layers of benefits. For example, our remote-first culture empowers us to recruit and hire from a larger, more geographically diverse pool of talent, which supports our vision for DEI.”

Eric Cormier, manager of HR services for Insperity, a provider of HR solutions, says changing the perspective of HR is critical.

“Don’t make HR the party-planning group,” he explains. “Outside of that, companies can support the strategy HR brings to the table as we face one of the most interesting times for talent acquisition and retention and realize the value of having an HR advocate. Leadership could consider altering the business-like titles for their HR team to more approachable HR titles to help remove the negative stigma associated with the department. HR is not just about hiring and firing employees. Instead, it is about bringing the right people into the organization and how we strive to help teams achieve and excel together. Other times, some situations require us to work with an employee to turn them around, and if we can’t, then we are charged with having difficult conversations. Many leaders today realize HR is much more than disciplinary action.”

Ultimately, the role of HR leaders has shifted from traditional practitioners to a strategic partner, and this moment of transformation for HR will continue, according to Donna Flynn, Vice President of Global Talent at global office design company Steelcase.

“CHROs and their teams are at the forefront of solving some of the biggest business problems today – redesigning work, redesigning offices to support new ways of working, actively supporting employee wellbeing, developing new models of leadership, advancing progress towards diversity, equity and inclusion goals, and making systemic changes to protect our planet,” Flynn shares. “At Steelcase we think about all these commitments we’re making as Caring for our People, Caring for our Culture, and Caring for our Planet. Companies that invest in their people are investing in their business.”

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