HR.com: HR Department Can Serve As An Innovation Hub: 3 effective ways

Originally Published in HR.com | February 25, 2016 | By Paul Mandell

As key executives within their organizations, HR leaders are routinely tasked with executing critical initiatives that can transform the business. However, HR’s role does not have to be limited merely to following corporate mandates. Rather, an effective HR team can help lead the business by designing transformative initiatives on its own. Here are 3 effective ways the HR department can serve as a hub of innovation within the business.

Experimenting with Internal Changes

Convincing the C-suite to roll out innovative changes across the company requires their trust. The easiest way to gain this trust is to demonstrate that your idea will work with proof of concept. As a result, one valuable step in effecting transformative change for the HR team is to develop and test initiatives at the department level before rolling them out to the rest of the company. Making changes at a small scale provides a way to assess innovation while minimizing harm if things do not go as planned. If the test is successful, the change may then be applicable to the entire company.

For example, explore potential online products that facilitate collaboration between teams. Measure how your HR department works together before and after its implementation. If there is a net increase in productivity, you may want to roll out the product to the rest of the company. This will give you and the rest of the HR department a reputation for innovation, and it will spare you the potential embarrassment of proposing an idea that may not work.

Upgrading Information Systems and Procuring New Technology

Using the right technology to derive actionable insight from company data allows Chief HR Officers to find the right talent to help drive the growth of their companies and can set an excellent example for the rest of the organization. In a recent Consero survey, nearly three-quarters (72%) of CHROs expressed dissatisfaction with the level of insight they extract from their company data. In addition, only 34 percent of Chief HR Officers reported that their current HR Information Systems (HRIS) meet the needs of their HR operations.

Procuring new technology is a significant concern in HR departments, as eighty-one percent of HR executives in that same Consero survey considered the procurement of new technology by their department to be at least a medium priority, while 48 percent considered it a high priority. Adjusting to these innovations in information systems will be illustrative for other departments within in the business innovating as well.

Assessing Policy Changes Using Metrics

Once an innovative policy is implemented, the HR department needs to evaluate the impact. Each change will require different metrics for evaluation—number of people it impacts, cost of implementation, risks and rewards, and time needed for execution. In considering these metrics as you try to expand to the rest of the company, create assessments that work for each initiative. It is particularly important to pay attention to the up-front costs versus the long-term financial gains of a policy. For instance, a company may want its employees to feel comfortable proposing ideas that may fail. The HR department ought to considering balancing the costs of failing and the financial benefits of potentially successful ideas.

Expanding HR’s Leadership Role

By fostering innovation in their department, Chief HR Officers can play an important leadership role for the business, showing their commitment to the company continued evolution for the better. By implementing these 3 strategies, HR’s input will be more valued in the company’s future decisions. Most importantly, HR executives will be in charge of departments that are perceived as flexible, innovative, and integral to the rest of the company. S&P