Strategy & LeadershipBoardroom RelationshipsWhat is HR’s role in enhancing business performance?

What is HR’s role in enhancing business performance?

Much discussion has been devoted to the role of HR within business, and matters of strategy. The consensus suggests that HR leaders can, and in many cases are, now working strategically to enhance business performance.

HRD Connect caught up with a number of HR leaders from across Europe to explore their insights and to ask how they are currently working to fulfil this important mandate.

Shakil Butt, Human Resources and Organisational Development Director at Islamic Relief Worldwide said:

“The right person, doing the right thing, at the right time, in the right way can allow an organisation to make leaps and bounds whilst the converse is terrifying.”

The practical steps our experts are working out in their organisations, include:

Being the expert on humans

Currently Head of Online Partnerships at Google Cloud, Yuval Divr helps organizations change and transform by adopting a lean, agile and modern way of working. His view is that HR leaders should embrace the mandate to enhance business performance boldly, and offers that:

“…an organisation is still very much a human phenomenon built by humans for humans, so who better than ‘human resources’ to actually lead the way forward. All the elements of HR – of digital, of lean – HR should be expert on them and lead the organisation into adopting them as opposed to being just a business partner, following the organisation. So, moving from a follower to a leader…”

Taking the sledgehammer to outdated practices

Considering the enhancement of business performance in the digital age, Gary Kildare, CHRO of IBM suggests that:

“Addressing complexity on behalf of employees is fast becoming the new work of HR. This new priority is driven in large part by the growing need for a workforce that can readily adapt to an ever-evolving environment.”

“We are in a digital age and HR has a leadership role to play with new models of organisation design, career management, digital learning and performance management. Reinventing the employee experience and disrupting leadership. It’s not about metrics and scorecards. We need to be comfortable not just chipping-away at outdated practices, but ready to take the first swing of the sledgehammer.

HR professionals need to be comfortable rolling-up their sleeves and talking the language of the business. Take employee engagement as one example. We know it affects the bottom line, so let’s have the engagement discussion in those terms. If a workforce truly believes in what they do and are engaged in their work, there is a huge boost in additional discretionary effort. We all know how it feels when you can’t wait to leave the office, but we also know how it feels to be passionate about something and put in hours of extra effort. An employee who is passionate about their work, and employee who is enabled to make progress on things they care about… they represent the additional productivity we’re all looking for on our bottom-line. It’s easier to drive that extra point of margin improvement through engagement than layoffs.”

Creating a roadmap for human capital transformation

Stijn Nauwelaerts, HR general manager at Microsoft suggests that HR also “… must play a role in evaluating the current organizational environment, defining people processes and help landing culture.   Collectively HR and the business should brainstorm a roadmap for human capital transformation, which is a key to enabling culture change, digitalizing a workplace and implementing it towards solutions.

Ways you can help change an organizations culture is by having a CEO that is authentic and has a purpose-driven mission, the change needs to honor the past and define the future of the organization and be simple, yet strategic.  Communication, measuring success and being open to employee feedback by ensuring there are listening systems in place to pulse check how change is landing, is key.  External feedback through customers and partners is another way to measure progress.  Lastly, you must have an all in approach and stay the course in order to truly make a difference and enhance business performance.”

Gary Kildare, Yuval Dvir and Stijn Nauwelaerts will join 200 HR leaders at the HRD Summit/Europe on 30-31st May in Amsterdam. Join them by securing your place at


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