BLOG The Shift to Strategic HR

Strategic HR is more than just an activity done by human resources. It’s a business strategy that looks at how businesses can maximise their performance through smart people management. A strategic approach allows you to hire for your organisation, develop your employees and assist them in staying with you for longer. Once you start thinking strategically about people management, there are lots of ways in which you can streamline service delivery without necessarily employing more people. If you’re wondering how to shift to strategic HR, one crucial consideration is what capacity you will need to do that, and how to free up those resources. For example, do you want your organization to move toward providing more self-service options for employees? Or maybe you’d like to reduce the number of HR transactions, freeing up staff time to be spent on higher-value tasks. Maybe both of these things! The point is that identifying your desired outcome will help steer your decision-making process and ensure that all of your future decisions are ultimately helping you get there.

What is Strategic HR?

Strategic human resource management is the connection between a company’s human resources and its strategies, objectives, and goals. The aim of strategic HR is to:

  • Enable organisational agility and performance through aligning talent with opportunity
  • Fostering an organisational culture in line with values and behaviours
  • Improving business performance

Strategic HR is only possible if you can elevate yourself out of transactional HR. Transactional HR is when your HR staff are fully utilised in responding to transactional HR requests like payroll enquiries, submission of leave forms, requests for policy information and other routine and repetitive tasks. Freeing up HR executives and managers’ time to focus on strategy is essential for rapidly adopting organisations. The alternative is an organisation that cannot pivot to meet the needs of the business.

Why would you want to automate your HR services?

It is true that most organizations, especially larger ones, require service delivery models that allow employees to access certain services directly, without requiring specialized support. This approach frees up time for your staff and can reduce operational costs. When coupled with self-service capabilities, it can also help improve employee satisfaction because they are able to take care of issues on their own without having to rely on others for assistance. But if you automate your HR services strategy, you need a way for employees to find what they need easily and efficiently. So how do you provide all of these benefits?

Why do you need a platform to achieve automation?

Despite how it sounds, automation isn’t really about robots and machines—though those could be involved. Instead, automation is about using software or hardware to control processes without human intervention. You can find automation in manufacturing plants, traffic signals, ATMs, coffee makers, and elevators—you name it. But many companies are now looking for ways to streamline their service delivery by eliminating the transactional type of human interactions with employees as much as possible. Surprisingly this can lead to greater employee satisfaction as they have more control of when, where and how they meet their needs for service. Typically there is a range of opportunities for empowering employees through self-service. Capturing this value requires a platform with power and flexibility.

Myths About Self-Service

You might be thinking that your employees won’t want to self-serve for things like payroll or benefits; but, actually, they really will. When you offer easy access to benefits information and services, employees tend to feel more in control of their lives and more responsible for their own personal success—which is exactly what you want them to feel. Empowering employees with self-service improves engagement scores across the board because it reduces workers’ frustration with administrative aspects of their employment. It’s better for retention, too: When employees feel supported, they stay longer at their jobs. Another myth is that workers want to deal with a human and not a virtual agent. However, think about your own experiences with retail… if you are shopping for a particular item would you rather wait on hold and then talk to a staff member who has to transfer you to another department, who doesn’t pick up? Or would you prefer to go online, search for items on their website, and check stock availability at nearby locations? Not many would choose the human interaction option in this scenario, and if you make enterprise HR self-service easy and convenient it will rapidly become the preferred channel for your workers.

Is self-service right for my organization?

There are many factors that go into whether or not HR self-service is right for your organization, but here are a few questions to consider:

  • Will it solve problems for my employees, or only just for management?
  • Can we address a larger opportunity for self-service and workflow automation across several business units that will achieve strategic benefits for the organisation? Separate portals for different functions can be confusing.
  • Self-service will free up resources in HR. Do I have the right skills mix in the new configuration, and do have high-value tasks for my people to perform when they are no longer busy with transactional tasks? Can I counter any cultural headwinds, e.g. the perception that “white glove” service is actually preferable to most staff? This perception may be driven by a technology-averse senior executive that is a little out o step with how the majority of workers interact with technology.
  • To spend money you typically need a business case based on cutting costs (i.e. laying off the agents currently doing tactical HR admin work) or increasing revenue. The HR is typically not a revenue unit, but many of the people you help do generate revenue. How might you sell the vision for how increasing the capacity for strategic HR will make your organisation more competitive, efficient, and agile?


The shift from transactional to strategic HR is critical for any organisation that wants to capture the opportunities in today’s dynamic and disruptive times. Making this shift, in the absence of funding increases, requires HR leaders to find ways to more efficiently meet the transactional workload. Self-service technology is one such method to automate this workload in a way that can make employees’ lives better by allowing them to access the information and services they want when and how they want it. This can be a change in mindset but it is also a radical change in HR’s capacity to serve the business in more strategic ways. To find out more about how to make this shift, please sign up for the newsletter before. If you have a more specific interest, feel free to schedule a demo at

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