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What should you include in your HR Strategic Review?

Kate Benefer, a Senior Associate at Royds Withy King in Oxford, is a regular contributor to our HR Hubs - an event which brings together senior HR professionals and employers from across Oxfordshire to discuss topical staffing issues. At our most recent event, we discussed– The Legal and HR Considerations of undertaking a Strategic Review of your Business and how this fits with wider business planning. Here, Kate explores some of the key issues.

Whether you already have a strategy document and are in the process of reviewing or updating it, or are introducing a strategy for the first time, there are a number of key areas and common questions that are worth considering.

First though, you need to look at your organisation’s overall strategy and make sure that any HR plans are in line with those overarching goals. Once you are clear where the business is heading, you will be in a position to assess your staffing needs and challenges.

Talent Attraction
Are you currently getting the right people and is this likely to become more difficult going forwards? It is a candidate’s market currently with applicants having the power to pick and choose between different potential employers and to demand the terms that are important to them. Although part of an attraction strategy will always involve looking at compensation and benefits, increasingly candidates are looking at other issues such as culture, career progression, corporate social responsibility, flexibility and work life balance. They are even taking into account their recruitment experiences and so a lengthy or unpleasant interview process could end up deterring good candidates.

Talent Retention
Ways of incentivising employees to remain loyal will vary depending on the nature of the business, the type of person they are and what motivates them as well as the culture you are promoting. Some people will need financial incentives such as retention bonuses or share options, while others may be more focussed on culture and opportunities for personal development. In deciding what will motivate your staff and improve retention, one approach favoured by many organisations is to ask the employees themselves. This may be through anonymous surveys, working groups or simply in one to one meetings with line managers.

Compensation and Benefits
A key question to ask is how you compare against your competitors. However, it is not just about looking at basic pay rates. Candidates are focussed on the whole package and key benefits are sometimes seen as more important than salary. When considering remuneration, you should also keep in mind things like equal pay, discrimination and the relatively new gender pay reporting requirements.

Staffing Levels and Structure
Does your current structure work and is it future proof? If you do need more people, it is worth considering whether this is a short or long term issue. It is also worth considering what status you want these additional staff members to have. If you are thinking of changing the structure or reducing your headcount, it’s important to allow enough time to take professional advice if you need it, meet any consultation obligations and make any contractual changes.

Performance Management
Who is responsible for performance management? Is it line managers or HR? And who do you think should have responsibility going forwards? Do you want managers to lead on the process and therefore need to plan for them to have additional training to take on this role or would you prefer HR to have a greater involvement in the process?

Culture and Values
Many organisations talk about their culture and the values they hold. They also talk about employees having to be the right “fit” for their organisation. However, it is not always clear what this means or how it is assessed and a lack of clarity can lead to disagreements from employees and candidates about discriminatory treatment, with “fit” being interpreted as relating to particular personal characteristics. If you questioned a few of your employees individually, do you think they would provide a consistent description of your culture and values? What about if you asked external third parties? It is important to consider what messages you want to convey in relation to your organisation’s culture and values and how you are going to communicate and record this.

Training and Skills
In any organisation, job roles and working practices evolve. Do your staff have the right skills to do their current role and the role that you are likely to need as the organisation moves forward? If there are skills gaps, you may want to consider looking at apprenticeships as a way of filling the gaps, particularly if you are paying the levy.

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