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Human resources · 

6 minutes

Cormac O'SullivanPiggy

Crafting Success: A Guide to HR Strategy & Examples

An effective Human Resource (HR) strategy is more than just an optional nice-to-have; it's a fundamental necessity. Whether it's about attracting the right talent, boosting employee engagement, or fostering a culture that drives growth, a well-crafted HR strategy can make a significant difference. This article offers insights into what an HR strategy is, why it's critical, and how to create one that aligns with your business goals. We'll also explore some inspiring examples of successful HR strategies in leading companies.

What is a HR strategy?

An HR strategy is a comprehensive plan that guides HR practices and processes to align with the overall business strategy. It provides a systematic approach to managing human capital, encompassing various HR activities such as recruitment, talent management, training, performance management, and compensation. The goal of an HR strategy is to maximize the return on investment from the organization's human capital and minimize financial risk.

Why is a HR Strategy Important?

Ensures Alignment with Business Goals

An effective HR strategy aligns the HR department's actions and initiatives with the company's broader business goals. This alignment ensures that every HR activity contributes to the company's success.

Enhances Talent Acquisition

A well-defined strategy can enhance your company's talent acquisition efforts. It can guide the development of compelling employer brand messages, targeting the right talent pools, and structuring competitive compensation packages.

Drives Employee Engagement

By outlining clear policies on career progression, training, and recognition, a solid strategy can help to boost employee engagement. Higher engagement is linked to increased productivity, lower turnover, and better business outcomes.

Supports Diversity and Inclusion

A strategic HR approach plays a key role in promoting diversity and inclusion within the organization. By outlining recruitment, retention, and advancement strategies for underrepresented groups, HR can help build a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

Facilitates Change Management

In times of change – such as mergers, acquisitions, or strategic shifts – an effective strategy serves as a roadmap for managing the transition, helping to maintain stability and continuity.

Promotes Compliance

With an ever-evolving regulatory landscape, a strategy is crucial to ensure that the company's HR practices are compliant with the law, thus reducing the risk of legal complications.

Helps Measure Success

An HR strategy can also provide metrics to measure the success of HR initiatives, contributing to continuous improvement in HR practices.

Builds a Positive Company Culture

An HR strategy guides the development of a positive company culture, shaping the norms, values, and behaviors that characterize the organization.

Supports Workforce Planning

Workforce planning is an essential aspect of HR strategy, helping to ensure that the organization has the right people in the right roles at the right time.

Facilitates Communication

Finally, an HR strategy can facilitate communication both within the HR department and between HR and other departments, promoting understanding and collaboration.

Aligning HR Strategy with Business Goals

Understanding Business Goals

The first step in aligning your HR strategy with business goals is understanding those goals. This means working closely with the leadership team to gain a clear perspective on the company's strategic plan, future growth objectives, and key business priorities. With a solid understanding of where the company wants to go, HR leaders can begin designing a strategy that helps facilitate these objectives.

Talent Acquisition

Talent acquisition is a crucial component of HR strategy that must be aligned with business goals. If the company plans to expand into new markets, HR should aim to attract and recruit talent with the required skills and experiences. If innovation is a priority, HR should focus on hiring creative thinkers and problem solvers. Aligning talent acquisition strategies with business goals helps ensure the right talent is in place to drive business objectives.

Training and Development

Training and development is another key area where alignment is vital. If business goals involve launching new products or services, for example, the HR strategy should include training programs to equip employees with the necessary skills and knowledge. Development initiatives should also align with long-term business objectives, such as leadership development programs that prepare high-potential employees for future leadership roles.

Performance Management

The performance management system should be designed to support business objectives by incentivizing the right behaviors and outcomes. For instance, if a business goal is to improve customer satisfaction, HR can develop performance metrics and rewards around customer service. Aligning performance management with business goals helps drive employee behavior in a direction that supports those goals.

Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is strongly linked to productivity, retention, and overall company performance, all of which affect business outcomes. If a business goal is to improve operational efficiency, an HR strategy could involve initiatives to boost employee engagement, such as recognition programs, career development opportunities, and improvements to the work environment. By creating a workplace where employees are engaged and committed, HR can contribute significantly to achieving business goals.

5 Steps to Creating a HR Strategy

Creating an effective HR strategy requires a systematic approach. Here's a five-step process you can follow:

Step 1: Understand Your Business Strategy

The first step in creating an HR strategy is understanding your business strategy. This includes identifying your business goals, understanding your industry and competitive landscape, and recognizing the skills and capabilities your organization needs to succeed.

Step 2: Analyze Your Current HR Capacity

Next, evaluate your current HR capacity. Assess your HR practices, systems, and staff competencies. Identify areas of strength and areas for improvement. This step often involves a SWOT analysis – identifying Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats in your current HR setup.

Step 3: Identify HR Priorities

Based on your understanding of your business strategy and your analysis of your current HR capacity, identify your HR priorities. What HR activities are most critical to achieving your business goals? These could range from talent acquisition and development, to culture building, to improving HR systems and processes.

Step 4: Develop Action Plans

For each of your HR priorities, develop an action plan. This should include specific objectives, a timeline for achieving them, resources required, and metrics to track progress. This is where your HR strategy becomes actionable.

Step 5: Monitor and Adjust

Finally, implement your HR strategy and monitor its effectiveness. Measure progress against your objectives, and adjust your strategy and action plans as needed based on your results and any changes in your business environment.

Examples of HR Strategies in Leading Companies

Several leading companies stand out for their innovative and effective HR strategies. Here are five examples:

Google: People Analytics

Google is known for using data in every aspect of its operations, and HR is no exception. Their "people analytics" approach involves making HR decisions based on rigorous data analysis, leading to innovative practices like the use of algorithmic hiring. Read more about their strategy here.

Netflix: Freedom and Responsibility

Netflix's HR strategy emphasizes a culture of "freedom and responsibility." The company trusts its employees to make decisions and holds them accountable for the results, which has contributed to its agility and innovation. Read more about how Netflix is an employer.

Southwest Airlines: Employee Engagement

Southwest Airlines prioritizes employee engagement, believing that happy employees lead to happy customers. Its HR practices focus on recognizing and rewarding employee performance and promoting a fun and inclusive workplace culture. Take a look at how it is to work for SWA here.

Zappos: Culture Fit

Zappos emphasizes cultural fit in its hiring and employee development practices. The company even offers new hires a "quit bonus" if they decide the company isn't a good fit for them during the training period. Take a look at what they have to say here.

Unilever: Sustainability and Inclusion

Unilever's HR strategy includes a strong focus on sustainability and inclusion. The company aims to achieve gender balance at all levels of the organization, and it prioritizes sustainability in its operations and supply chain.


In conclusion, an effective HR strategy is a vital tool that enables businesses to attract, retain, and develop the talent they need to achieve their business goals. By aligning HR practices with business objectives, creating a strategic plan, and learning from the HR strategies of leading companies, organizations can turn their human capital into a competitive advantage. As the business environment continues to evolve, strategic human resource management will become even more critical to organizational success.

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