Strategic Plan for Human Resources

Designing and approving a human resources strategy is only the first step to success. The strategy itself is only a document that describes the end state of the department after several years of implementation. What is completely missing, however, is a plan for how to implement all the proposals that have been approved, in what order, and who is responsible for implementing each step. This is why the HR Strategic Plan exists.

HR Functions need to agree on how each element will be implemented, in what order, and how long the implementation phase will be for each component of the strategy. It seems unnecessary and complicated, but without a good plan, implementation will soon collapse because the people in HR will run out of resources and energy. And a good plan will immediately show where the critical and bottleneck areas of the implementation are. Especially if it is also linked to the normal standard agenda of the Human Resources department.

In the end, the department usually has two versions of the plan:

  • A complete one for internal work and one for task coordination,
  • a simplified and visually appealing version for presentations.

Having a simplified version is important because internal clients need to be regularly informed about how the implementation is progressing and what new developments await employees. And over a simple and attractive image, the priorities of the Human Resources department are better described.

Keeping the plan up to date is the biggest challenge for the department because no implementation goes without changes, adjustments and delays. There is no one who can immediately tell that this part of the implementation is underestimated and the next one, on the other hand, will be done much faster. And how that will affect other elements in the plan. Therefore, the plan needs to be reviewed regularly to keep it up to date and changes need to be visible at a glance.

A good HR strategic plan is also a great tool for HR Marketing, as it can be presented anywhere on the wall for everyone in HR to see and check how the implementation is going. The results of the implementation can make for excellent internal communications that can prepare employees for what to expect in the coming weeks and months and how it all ties into the new HR strategy.

What is the HR Strategic Plan?

The HR Strategic Plan builds on the HR Strategy, the strategic agenda of Human Resources, and then creates objectives for individual functional HR departments according to it. Importantly, however, it also includes standard departmental activities so that when planning, it does not happen that all capacity is then exhausted by a standard HR procedure and there are no available resources left for the planned implementation.

In the strategic plan, the target state is broken down into the individual activities and HR projects that are needed to deliver the outcome. These activities are then prioritized and sequenced over time so that there is never an overload of staff in the department. And also with a view to ensure that HR does not overwhelm the company with information about changes as the capacity of managers and staff is limited.

A good plan also includes dependencies on other departments in the company and suppliers who may be involved in the implementation. The team needs to understand how the HR data model works and which key data will not be immediately available, but will take time to prepare. A good plan must also account for this and inform well in advance that input will be required into projects.

It also includes a large section on communication, as implementing an HR strategy requires fluid and constant communication. HR staff need to know how the implementation is progressing, what has been completed, and what the next activities are to begin. They also need to know when to expect to be involved and what inputs and outputs they will need. Otherwise, the implementation team will never avoid surprises.

The second part is about internal communication. And not just towards senior management, but it needs to cover the entire organization, because the HR department ultimately takes care of everyone. And in this respect, it needs to be fully aligned with the company culture. It has to be consistent with how the company communicates and not in direct conflict.

Operating Rhythm

In the end, it is often a good Operating Rhythm that determines the success of an HR strategy implementation. If the team does not establish good communication and coordination processes before the implementation begins, it usually goes badly. Gradually, interest in working on the implementation will wane, conflicting priorities will remain unresolved, and gradually people will stop talking about the new strategy. This is why operational rhythm is so important.

Human Resources must establish an implementation team in which all managers are represented and must have a dedicated program manager. This team must be led by the Chief Human Resources Officer and this role cannot be delegated. Doing so would indicate that implementation is not important enough for him or her.

This team must have regular meetings where:

  • reviews the status of each activity,
  • reviewing the deliverables,
  • plan activities for the next period,
  • revise the plan as work progresses,
  • approve communications according to the communication plan,
  • works with identified risks and approves alternative solutions,
  • prepares presentations for the HR team and company-wide communications.

Only when the implementation team functions properly will the strategy be implemented without major delays and to the extent agreed.

What benefits does the HR Strategic Plan bring?

The main benefit is that the HR strategy and all the basic HR processes work. There are no unexpected surprises and no one is fighting for additional resources because capacity is planned with the day-to-day operations in HR in mind.

Employee Engagement in Human Resources is another significant benefit. With a plan in place, they can find opportunities for themselves and can volunteer for tasks in a project activity. In this way, the plan also contributes to professional development as employees can learn new competencies.

Clear communication within the department and towards the company is a significant benefit. Human Resources often forgets to communicate its main activities, but communicating the achievement of important milestones in the strategy is important. And it’s also a good platform for getting feedback from internal clients. Which helps to cement the relationship with them.