HR 101

Foresight Is 20/20: Future-Proofing Your HR Strategy

December 05, 2019

It doesn’t take 20/20 vision to see that the year 2020 is almost upon us, and HR professionals and business owners alike have a lot to think about. There’s legislation to comply with, health and safety protocols to implement and follow up with, and payroll to process, not to mention urgent day-to-day issues that inevitably arise. While it is essential to take care of the tasks requiring immediate attention, it is equally important for HR professionals and business owners to devote attention to the future of human resources at their organization. Where is the company heading? What is its mission and what does it aim to accomplish? How will the organization get from where it is now to where it wants to be a year, two years, five years from now? These are questions you need to address so that your organization can grow and thrive.

Strategic HR planning is how you tackle these concerns. Strategic planning links HR management directly to the direction of an organization. It’s how you set priorities, focus energy and resources, and get employees and other stakeholders working towards a common goal. It’s using what you know now to predict what you can about the future. Strategic planning incorporates a company’s mission statement, vision, and values.

When you engage in strategic planning, remaining flexible is vital to success. There is no crystal ball to know exactly what the future will hold, and the best anyone can do is make educated guesses based on what they currently know. There will be changes to personnel, new and different legislative requirements, shifting skill and knowledge requirements, and other factors outside of an organization’s control that will affect a business; therefore, strategic planning is not necessarily linear.

To help with this, think of strategic planning in terms of periods of time that make sense based on the specific circumstances your organization faces, rather than following a linear year-by-year planning model. For example, you may start by focussing on short-term tactics—the micro-strategies that take advantage of situations as they arise—in the next six to 12 months. This involves working with information you know and what the company already has or can obtain quickly. From there you can build out your medium-term strategy to cover a period up to two years. This portion should focus on larger but still concrete goals, such as increasing staffing levels, improving the organization’s skills inventory, and providing training to employees. For the five-year strategic plan, focus on broader trends and long-term goals. This step involves thinking about the direction the company intends to take. In five to 10 years, there will be fewer known details and more instability, so it’s best to focus on the vision the company has and adjust as more becomes known, rather than map out exact targets that far in advance.

Once you have your plan laid out, you need to get people involved. There’s a saying that if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together. Going far is the aim of strategic planning, so you must communicate your vision to every department in your organization for it to work. Download our Strategic Planning Guide, where we break down how to plan strategically in a few key areas of HR.