The Talent Company’s 12 Days of Talent: Day 9 – 9 Strategies for Driving HR Innovation


9 Strategies for Driving HR Innovation

As we move in to the New Year, it’s natural for individuals and teams to set goals. Changing our old ways and/or introducing new practices and habits can be a big part of this practice. So, how do HR departments innovate?

1.  HR-Client Surveys. Asking for feedback is an important aspect of effectively working with the business. It’s a practice that sets great HR teams apart from good teams. Receiving feedback from managers and employees across the business should be part of the partnering process. But once the HR/people strategy has been set in motion, HR should ask for formal feedback around key strategy initiatives, programs, and overall satisfaction with HR’s level of service. The feedback should be used to identify opportunities for the development of programs, plus drive continuous improvement in the services offered by HR.

2.  Link HR Strategy to Business strategy. It doesn’t have to be complicated! It’s really about asking a series of questions and effectively addressing them. Start at the top and ensure your People Strategy is linked to your Business Strategy.

*What is your Business Plan telling you about your People Strategy needs? Do you feel that your organization has the skills/capabilities to meet the business strategy?

*What is the Profile of the talent you need your employees to have?

*What is the “Value Proposition” needed to attract and retain this targeted employee profile?

*How will you Obtain the Talent? And how will you Develop the Talent?

*Given the profile of the employee you need to attract and retain, is there an appropriate Rewards Strategy in place to reward the talent?

*Given the strategy, does HR have the Capabilities needed to move the business forward?

Linking the people strategy to business strategy is the foundation for getting HR right.

3.  Employee Communications. Great HR teams learn from internal communication teams and employ their best strategies to support the most important business priorities. They understand that effective internal communications are a strong lever of employee engagement and retention, and deploy appropriate tactics. They support overall communication objectives by establishing communication channels/tools that are best suited to their employees. Channels can be: team meetings, morning huddles, blogs, intranets, social networks, and discussion boards, among others.  Whatever they are, they use only the most effective and they don’t overwhelm employees!  They also know that when it comes to communicating with employees, that nothing replaces face-to-face interaction with business leaders.

4.  Big “I” versus little “i” Innovation.

HR does not need to focus solely on “big I” Innovation (meaning focusing on the next “big thing”); it doesn’t have to be some mind-bending technology breakthrough! Innovation can come in the form of little “i” innovation (small enhancements/adjustments to processes and systems). When you think of all the systems, processes, programs, policies, that touch the employee base, HR doesn’t need to look far to enhance the employee experience.  I would take 100 “small i” innovations over 1 “big I” innovation any day. HR should push innovation.

5.  Recruitment and Social Media – When it comes to recruitment and leveraging social media, innovative HR teams display similar practices. Their social media recruitment strategy is a subset of their larger recruitment strategy. Their tactics address specific recruitment strategy needs.  Whether it is recruitment, building community, or reducing costs, their tactics are well considered. They understand and leverage the tools and channels that are available to them both today and tomorrow.

6.  Performance Management. Good HR teams have cracked the code on performance management in their organizations. They have moved beyond the internal debate on systems and processes and produced results. I see the merits of having a system in place. I have read the wisdom (pro’s and con’s) on the merits of various performance management systems. What system works for your organization is purely situational but my caveat is always to keep it simple! Do not over-complicate it with a myriad of other demands.

7.  HR Capabilities. Stephen Covey coined the phrase “sharpen the saw” to reference taking the time to keep your skills current. Innovative human resources teams take the time to apply this idea to HR capabilities. They have up-skilled themselves in areas such as strategic management, technology integration, change management and influencing ability. Keeping current on these core competencies ensures they are ahead of the curve on being top-notch business partners, delivering efficient HR services and operations.

8.  Workforce Analytics. Yes, HR has to get the basics in terms of employee data storage right, but they must go beyond and provide insight as it relates to business results. Taking human capital data beyond basic measurement is really workforce analytics. The analytical insights created from systems are used to create people strategies that address real business problems. At the forefront of insight provided consider areas such as: ready now talent; turnover of key talent; employee productivity; and total rewards investment. These greater workforce insights position HR to pro-actively advise their leadership teams on key business issues.

9.  People-minded Processes HR policies, services and processes should be designed to address the challenges of your own business. They also need to keep people’s motivations and the larger marketplace in mind. Vacation time is a popular example of this right now. Whether the practice of offering unlimited vacation is widely adopted or not remains to be seen. What we do know is that small to mid-sized organizations are effectively using this approach in the war for talent with larger organizations (and the deep-pocketed benefits they can offer).


Gord MacDonald specializes in providing executive-level HR expertise to organizations where HR leadership is needed on an advisory, interim, contract or project basis. As the Practice Leader for HR Advisory Services through The Talent Company, and his own consulting firm HR Solutions, he works with a diverse range of businesses to develop and implement human capital strategies in support of business issues. He has in-depth experience across: Human Capital Strategy; Building Talent and Strong Teams; Building Strong Corporate Cultures; Employee Engagement;  Leading Change; Employee Communications; and, Delivering Tangible Results. Prior to moving in to consulting, Gord held HR leadership roles  at LoyaltyOne, American Express, Hogg Robinson and Genworth Canada. Gord can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter

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