Seven Excuses for HR Leaders not doing the Strategic

So what is YOUR excuse for not doing the strategic?

OK, as an HR consultant who focuses on diversity and career development programs for corporate clients, it is time for me to vent. I so often hear human resources professionals I network with discuss how important their roles are in terms of the strategic success of their companies. One key area that often gets discussed is talent retention, engagement and development. As the number of baby boomers retiring is larger than new talent coming out of school, HR practitioners are worried about a labor shortage and retaining their top talent.

But then when it comes time to invest in cost effective low-effort initiatives to retain their talent, I hear excuse after excuse after excuse.

Here are my top 7:

1) I can’t focus on that now, we are in the middle of … (you name it – annual enrollment period, annual performance review cycle, etc.) Every month there is a different urgent item or a fire to put out. HR leaders need to make time to focus on the strategic.

2) I cannot get any budget for it. Yes, you do need to show a dollars and cents business case for any investment you make, and HR needs to be better with the financials. Especially for programs that reduces employee turnover, a strong business case with excellent return on investment is quite simple to make.
3) We are in the middle of a merger or acquisition. I get this one a lot. Business does not stop simply because you are integrating a new company into an existing one. Mergers and acquisitions are almost typical in business these days. In fact, a merger may be the ideal time to introduce some new programs that can bring both teams together. Read my previous blog on diversity, career development and mergers & acquisitions.

4) We just got new senior leadership. Another one I hear far too often. Again, business does not stop because new leadership is coming in. Instead of sitting on your hands and doing nothing, perhaps starting a new project that engages employees and improves morale will impress your new executive!

5) We just invested in a whole new HR system so can’t do anything else. Actually a good solution may be able to fold in well with a new HR system and may actually enhance it and drive additional employee usage. Be creative and keep your mind open about this.

6) We don’t use outside consultants. Often creative innovative solutions can be delivered by consultants far more cost effectively than hiring additional staff or overburdening your team. Plus if you are overwhelmed timewise (see excuse 1), a consultant can provide much needed help and focus.

7) This is not important to our strategy. Well – this is one excuse that can be accepted. If something does not tie to your strategy, you probably do not want to do it!