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Connect HR to Business by Jennifer Martinez

Jenny Martinez Headshot in a Red Dress

It is refreshing to know that the past few years have elevated the Human Resources function and are driving new thinking around our role in supporting the new workforce, regardless of whether the company is thriving or being challenged financially or socially. From managing the workforce planning efforts to re-imagining new mental health programs—all while ensuring employees have the tools to work remote or in their new redesigned workspace—is just another day in the life of an HR professional.

As a result, HR professionals are pivoting every day to support leaders evolve their business strategies by designing a new and recharged workforce operating differently both now and to sustain in the future.

After reading the SHRM HR Magazine article “Burnout Is a Problem for HR Professionals”, I thought about all the HR professionals on the front line every day and the importance of self-care to avoid burnout.

I hope now more than ever that HR professionals are finding ways to manage the high stress work environments they face while staying engaged in growing their career. Listed below are a few areas that have helped me over the years remain passionate about the work we do in Human Resources.

LIVE AND LEARN THE BUSINESS – It was about ten (10) or so years into my HR career that I realized that I needed to fully understand the business model and strategy at a level that allowed me to contribute to the conversation most effectively with business leaders. This required me to build relationships at all levels of leadership, especially with those willing to share their knowledge about their roles and its impact to their department and company. I had to step out of my comfort zone and truly connect to the work of the employees and the business leaders. For me, it meant going to a casino floor during a major slot machine installation and partnering with a finance leader to understand the cost impact and the importance of headcount planning analysis during annual budgeting. Not only was I able to have conversations with senior leaders about the alignment of the people strategy to the business strategy, but it was also at that point that I embraced my role as a strategic contributor with influence beyond the operationalwork we do in human resources. Whether it was building a 3-year HR strategic roadmap, leading an organizational design initiative, or managing through critical and time-sensitive HR merger and acquisition activities from more than a transactional level.

CONTINUAL LEARNING – As HR professionals, the work we do and the legal rules and playbooks we need to follow, and implement are ever-changing. Although we are lifelong learners, we have to be on top of our game regularly by keeping up with changing laws, trends, and new best practices that we can assess and implement in our companies in a way that secures buy-in from our leadership team. What helped me was taking the time to prepare how I wanted to socialize this information, followed by carefully preparing to deliver a recommendation for a new or changing HR program and initiative. If I were able to show the correlation to culture, business strategy, and results or risk to the company, backed up by factual data, I had a good chance that the leadership team would take the time to listen and support my recommendation. I learned that it was okay to be passionate and show the human side about an area we are looking to influence although we have to start the dialogue with the business impact. My advice to HR professionals is to continue to self-teach by taking courses and/or earning HR certifications that are relevant to your role or that you are inspired to learn more about. For example, some HR professionals are getting dual majors in HR and Information Technology or becoming certified as Project Management Professionals because of the rapid shift in technologies and the need for strong program management capabilities to support the necessity for demonstrated business acumen. It is also okay to challenge the norm with your teams when considering new ideas that drive transformation and innovation in the new workplace.

THE ROLE OF MENTORING – I place having formal and informal mentors to support your career decisions and provide objective advice at the right times at the top of the list. I did not initially realize that certain individuals were serving as my mentors early in my HR career. The light bulb went off when I became accountable for Talent Management and understood how the interaction with leaders or working for companies committed to career path development would have on my own career progression. Because of my personal experience, I was committed to incorporating internal and external mentoring to round out and enhance leadership development programs within the companies I worked. On a personal level, serving as a mentor is one of the most enjoyable areas I have and continue to enjoy today. The area that especially excites me is being able to collaborate with professionals new to the Human Resources function in either a one-to-one setting or in a group format. I recently taught a college course and found the experience very fulfilling personally, as I was able to share real-life application to prepare the students for what is ahead.

As we continue to navigate our way through unchartered territory, the HR profession continues to elevate to new levels that I know will progress with the right leadership—those who are committed to an inclusive and engaged culture.

I would love to hear your thoughts to the future work of HR and ideas on how HR professionals can continue to add value and be true partners in support of culture and business strategy. Contact us today!