What makes a successful HR strategy?

Blog Hr Strategy Examples What Makes A Successful Hr Strategy 2

Long gone are the days when the Human Resources department focused solely on recruiting employees. HR has become an invaluable resource itself, working hand in hand with top-level management to create a cohesive, organization-wide strategy.

The strategic importance of HR cannot be underestimated. Its role as the liaison between employees and the organization is a vital one, especially given the highly competitive nature of the workplace today.


We’ve written previously about how human resource planning has become an integral part of an organization’s strategy, and that’s true, the four-step HR plan of assessing HR capacity, forecasting future requirements, identifying gaps, and integrating the plan with the organization’s strategy is vital to the success of any organization. Being able to compete effectively depends heavily on an organization’s ability to adapt and respond to the market. And this is where a formal HR plan earns its stripes.

However, on a broader level, a successful HR strategy can often set the tone for the way an organization operates and how it is viewed by the world.

There are many different types of HR strategies, but at their heart, they all start with the same foundation: to create a work environment that’s synonymous with engaged, productive, and loyal staff.

Every organization is different and will be staffed by employees from different backgrounds, sectors, goals, ambitions, etc. The key to a successful HR strategy is to identify what unifies and motivates employees and to develop a strategic plan around that understanding. Think about conducting a regular survey where you ask what motivates employees and ask them to rank a series of options in order of importance to them.

Let’s look at some of the tools available to HR departments when developing their strategic plan?

  • Competitive salaries
  • Enviable benefits packages
  • Promotion opportunities
  • Continuous staff training and development
  • Transparent and regular communications
  • Focus on employee wellbeing
  • Investment in corporate social responsibility
  • Employee autonomy
  • Open-door policy
  • Freedom to be creative
  • Enhanced hiring practices

In today’s competitive jobs market, attractive salaries and job perks are commonplace. Large technology multinationals arguably set the tone for often eye-watering benefits packages and other organizations were forced to keep up. However, with these types of benefits now de rigueur, employees are looking beyond how much a company can pay them, and what a company stands for has become an important part of the story.

It is here where a successful HR strategy comes into its own. The most successful HR departments at the most successful organizations, while all focusing on their people, differ in the ways in which they cement their reputation for innovative HR strategies.

Examples of successful HR strategies

Across the many ‘Best Places to Work’ lists (like Glassdoor for example) many of the usual suspect’s reign supreme – such as Google and LinkedIn. These organizations boast HR strategies that are recognized internationally as being innovative. And while many of the stalwarts on these lists are high tech firms, it’s heartening to see organizations that have been around for decades making waves in the HR sector.

Organizations like Nissan, which has developed an HR concept it calls ‘kaizen’. Kaizen empowers the Nissan workforce to continually improve the way a job is done. This is coupled with an emphasis on providing managers with the autonomy to recruit and build their own teams.

Alliance Boots (parent company of the Boots chain) also shines for its promotion of community outreach programs for employees. In fact, Alliance Boots was the first organization of its kind that offered formal accreditation to employees for their work in the community.

Another interesting example is BT, a juggernaut of a telecoms company, which even during the economic crash continued to retain, train, and redeploy its existing staff. Its focus on its employees has earned it a reputation for loyalty that is matched by its employees.

Mayo Clinic, which consistently features on Forbes 100 Best Companies to Work For, has worked to create a dynamic team. This is supported by strong management, consistent internal communications, and ongoing training and development.

These are just four examples of successful HR strategies that make their organizations stand out. Human Resources MBA has compiled a fascinating list of 30 innovative corporate HR departments that provide food for thought for any HR professional.

What’s interesting about these examples, is that while all four have a different focus, the thread of understanding what your employees are motivated by runs through them all.