Human resources leaders play a crucial role in advancing the growth and fulfilling strategic objectives of an organization. Traditionally, the duties of HR professionals include acquiring, developing and retaining employees as well as managing performance and administering compensation. They also may provide proactive guidance on HR programs through business practices such as finance, procurement, information technology and legal issues.
One of the most important things an HR leader can do is to take responsibility for education and training programs. Employee development is recognized as a vital tool for an organization’s continued growth, productivity and ability to keep valuable employees. If a business fails to do the research needed to deliver ongoing employee education, the process can be cumbersome and frustrating for all concerned; it will have little value.
Productive employers integrate development programs into the company’s comprehensive strategy, making sure all programs support the same objectives. HR professionals, typically the ones tasked with organizing employee development, can be partners in that endeavor by working to align employee education with the organization’s needs.
Payoff Is in the Details
With executive support, HR leaders can fine-tune education initiatives specifically to the company’s workers. The first step is to make training a priority at all levels of the company, says Dan Sommer, founder of the New York-based start-up Trilogy Education. “The best people-focused organizations spend time trying to understand what employees need,” he says. Sommer recommends polling workers annually with a short survey, since what employees want often differs from what managers think they want.
HR professionals should make sure that employee development programs do not create potential liabilities for discrimination, retaliation, wage and hour violations, or breach of copyright laws. The best programs feature varying degrees of coaching, mentoring, individual development plans, online education options, seminars, workshops and cross-training, according to Harvard Business Review.
Employee education programs should align with the company’s talent management strategy. With multiple generations in the workforce, organizations may need to restructure the way employees learn and the tools needed to match different employee styles, preferences and expectations. For example, millennials came of age using cellphones, computers and video game consoles so they expect to use these technologies to support their learning activities.
Education Brings Benefits
HR leaders should make their case for more workforce training to managers and employees alike. Without a clear projected outcome, managers might balk at training costs and the lost productivity time. Employees will be less enthusiastic about a development program if they fail to see gains in their job performance and career opportunities.
Pursuing a career as an HR leader typically requires a broad base of business knowledge, along with the kind of specialized expertise obtained through an online MBA in human resource development program. Earning an MBA shows potential employers that you can use your advanced knowledge to succeed as an HR leader.
Companies will see that you have the skills to make sound, strategic decisions and advance organizational goals. They know that you can design effective compensation and benefit packages to attract and retain quality employees. An advanced education will equip you with the skills necessary to use data and statistics, leverage technology and demonstrate strong financial management and budgeting expertise, all necessary traits for a successful career in HR.
HR professionals must know their organization and industry as well as the needs of the employees. They also should be skilled at quantifying the results of education programs and matching the various options with different learning styles.