How to better align HR with business outcomes 

Dr. Cecelia Herbert, Principal XM Catalyst, XM Institute, Qualtrics, highlights how HR leaders can elevate the strategic impact of their EX efforts.
By: | August 28, 2023

The role of the HR practitioner has evolved dramatically over the past three years. Changing dynamics have put pressure on organisations to ensure employees are supported through change, putting HR at the centre of strategic – and at times existential – decision-making. 

Businesses across South-East Asia are adopting the discipline of employee experience (EX) management as an effective way to attract, retain, and enable talent in hot job markets, as well as a powerful business differentiator. And the perception of HR leaders among other executives back this up – Qualtrics research shows 68 per cent of HR leaders in Singapore say they are now more involved in strategic initiatives and 80 per cent say improving EX is seen to significantly improve business results.  

The state of HR in 2023 

In response to new economic and social realities, HR teams have taken the lead in transforming workforce strategies, prompting organisations to listen to employees more often and with more conviction. Once-a-year surveys no longer cut it, with 78 per cent of HR leaders now reviewing feedback at least monthly and 20 per cent looking daily.  

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HR teams have taken the lead in transforming workforce strategies, prompting organisations to listen to employees more often and with more conviction.” Dr. Cecelia Herbert, Principal XM Catalyst, XM Institute, Qualtrics  

One of the biggest challenges HR leaders now face is elevating HR operations further to become intrinsically aligned with future business outcomes. EX sits at the centre of this mission, as executives realise employees are more than just a resource as organisations can only be successful if people are enabled to effectively work together towards a common goal.  

Here are four ways HR leaders can elevate the strategic impact of their EX efforts.  

1. Become active agents of change

As organisations embrace new approaches to EX, HR leaders must lead the way as a positive force for the entire workforce. This extends beyond designing new listening frameworks to actively working with leaders across the business to build the capabilities they need to convert employee insights into actions that deliver results for the business and employees.  

2. Demonstrate the business value of EX

While HR is inherently a people-centric profession, it is also about data. Employee insights reflect organisational performance and the best HR leaders find ways of illustrating that to senior leadership in powerful and engaging ways.  They not only share data but are storytellers who build connections between employee experience and organisational performance.  

Aligning human experiences with operational outcomes, like increasing efficiencies in people operations or productivity, optimising investments, protecting brand integrity, or enhancing customer experiences, encourages senior leadership to look at people data in the same way they view other business insights. 

3. Collaborate regularly with the CIO

Modern EX strategies require tight collaboration between technology and people teams. HR is increasingly underpinned by innovative technology platforms and employees are working in technology-driven environments which often impact employee experience. The level of collaboration and partnership will determine the scale and impact of EX programmes and the ability to drive tangible business outcomes.  

4. Start small, dream big

Making positive changes to improve HR and leadership alignment does not have to involve one ‘big-bang’ project.  Some of the best programmes start with smaller actions that add up to impactful change – and they are also often met with the least resistance. 

Qualtrics research shows aligning all teams around a common EX vision or strategy, or improving data quality and integrations, makes a huge difference. That does not necessarily need a full project plan; it might start with a simple conversation that builds an organisation’s capability to be agile.  

The first steps to a greater impact 

HR is no longer just the glue between employer and employees; It is as valuable to the bottom line as sales or marketing. They have helped organisations navigate significant uncertainty and emerge with strength, with employee experience emerging as the key lever for growth.  

HR leaders who become more heavily engaged in leadership conversations will drive the ultimate improvements in workplace culture, setting their businesses up for long-term success.   

About the author: Dr. Cecelia Herbert is Principal XM Catalyst at the XM Institute, Qualtrics.