Human Resources Operations Roadmap

79 percent of American workers say company culture is an important factor in job satisfaction.

This is becoming exceedingly important as the HR world fundamentally shifts. The need for a people-centric, culture-boosting team has taken precedence over secretarial ways of the past.

The human resources department can make or break a team for large and small companies alike. As such, the human resources operations roadmap is one of the most important tools an HR professional can use.

At the foundational level of their work is the HR strategy. This structures all initiatives, projects, and goals throughout the department. But without a proper strategy—or proper communication of strategy—everything can crumble.

This is where the HR roadmap comes into play.

With the introduction of this framework into the fabric of a company’s human resources department, lasting and continuous change can be achieved.

This dynamic outlook is key now more than ever in the COVID-19 era. As companies struggle during this time with scattered employees, a strong culture is critical to keep everyone aligned.

Keep reading to learn more about the human resources operations roadmap and how it can benefit your team.

What Is HR Strategy?

At the center of any human resources operation is the strategy that serves as the basis for all business activities.

This is based on the company’s overall organizational strategy. This blueprint provides direction for all of HR’s key functions, including:

  • Recruiting and hiring
  • Onboarding
  • Performance review
  • Development
  • Compensation
  • Benefits

Essentially, this strategy serves as a long-term plan that dictates HR functions across the organization. It is revised annually, using data and expert judgment of management to create the framework.

The HR strategy is a function of the broader organizational strategy. Departmental business activities create value when they match up with the overall goals of the company.

While their efforts can easily go unnoticed behind some other departments with a larger presence, HR can play a significant role in the performance of the organization.

What Is the HR Mission Statement?

The terms “strategy” and “mission statement” can often be used interchangeably. However, this is not correct. In reality, the mission statement comes as a result of the HR strategy.

The mission statement serves to more clearly define the path of the department and ultimately the company. It creates a more streamlined vision to base practices and decisions.

Going back to the roadmap model, the strategy is akin to the overall set of directions. The mission statement is like the rules of the road.

While the directions get the driver where they need to be, the rules guide their individual decisions in the pursuit of that goal. How fast they drive, what lane they choose to merge into, and how long they wait at a stop sign are all determined by the rules of the road.

This model translates well into the HR strategy/mission statement relationship.

The overall strategy guides the large-scale initiatives and goals for the department. They provide general directions on how to get from point A to point B. But the mission statement provides a source to refer back to when unsure of the best way to proceed after a detour in the road.

Remodeling the HR Strategy Framework

Nearly every organization will have some type of HR strategy they use to work from.

These can be built in varying complexities, usually depending on the organization and the size or scope of the HR team. But regardless of the size of the company, any team can benefit from shifting the structure of these plans.

This is where the human resources operations roadmap comes into play.

What is an HR Roadmap?

A human resources operations roadmap is used by HR departments for many companies of varying sizes.

It helps an HR team strategize their goals and plan based on these targets. Plus, hiring plans are easier to build and maintain with a solid HR roadmap.

Think of it as a driving roadmap, with directions pointing to the destination. There is turn-by-turn navigation helping to guide the driver from the departure point to the destination.

Along the way, a defined set of actions are completed to achieve both individual desired outcomes (like taking a highway exit) and the overall desired outcome (arriving at the destination).

In the same way, the human resources operations roadmap helps to guide an HR department through a journey.

The HR roadmap outlines continuing department initiatives moving forward. It’s easy for HR professionals to see a summary of projects, responsibilities, and statistics at-a-glance

While the human resources roadmap does guide an internal team through the entire HR lifecycle, it is more than just simply getting from point A to point B. Rather, the team undergoes a transformation that will fundamentally shift how they approach their work and their role in the company.

Included in the framework for this transformation are strategic and operational considerations. This way, true institutional change is achieved beyond just a model on a screen.

The Changing Landscape of Human Resources

A human resources roadmap puts emphasis on company culture and initiatives that put employees first. This is even more important as the role of the human resources department has fundamentally shifted over the last decade in particular.

The days of archaic human resources information systems (HRIS) and cold, company-first policies have begun to phase out. Instead, exciting initiatives that put people first have started to take over.

Technology is constantly increasing. As such, business models are changing, too. The pace is increasing, and employees are expecting more out of their work environments.

In order to truly achieve change, the entire HR team must come to realize this. This is especially true with the team’s leadership. Everyone from the top down must truly be on board and believe in the power of the HR roadmap. Otherwise, it will not be as successful as it could be.

When actually completing such a fundamental change, it can be easiest to manage by dividing up into a core team.

This should be made up of the most dedicated, strategic, and transformational thinkers within the human resources department. These should be operational experts who have a solid grasp on the ability to envision what is next for the department and the company.

Older and more established companies may be wary to make the transition to newer HR models. However, this is a mistake. With the HR landscape changing nationwide, it’s important to keep up with the rest of the country.

Otherwise, company culture can stall and top talent may not be as attracted to joining the team.

The Emphasis on Culture

There is a plethora of evidence showing that positive company culture has many benefits to the productivity and overall well-being of employees. To keep morale high and company culture moving in the right direction, a dynamic HR team is a must.

In the past, human resources departments simply kept employee data. They posted job descriptions, handled requests for time off, and ensured payroll was processed on time.

This is no longer the case. The HR departments truly in touch with the needs of today’s workforce focus on the people they serve. While yes, they are liable to uphold the company’s bottom line, there is more to the story.

Modern HR departments work hard to promote the best possible company culture within the given parameters. They look to make each employee better at their craft, which in turn makes the company better.

They add value to employees, helping to mold them into the best personal and professional versions of themselves. This is true for the entire employee lifecycle—from recruitment to retirement.

They also serve as an employee advocate. Modern HR professionals work to identify those projects and initiatives that can improve the employee experience. Happier employees tend to be more productive, so the most successful HR departments are great at identifying these opportunities to delight their people.

Moving Forward

With the introduction of the human resources operations roadmap, a wide berth is provided for such institutional growth.

Some of the most important areas to implement on this map that help drive this change include:

  • HR strategy and planning
  • Workforce strategy and planning
  • Compensation and rewards
  • Employee benefits
  • Talent development
  • Performance management
  • Payroll
  • Recruiting and hiring
  • Learning and development

With the inclusion of these types of factors, an HR team can transform into a people-centric team within the organization.

In turn, employees are more productive. Clients are more satisfied. Leadership will feel the difference both internally and externally.

The human resources operations roadmap is one momentous way to help achieve this goal.

The Role of HR in the Context of COVID-19

All of the aforementioned areas of a successful HR department in the modern age have been complicated tenfold by the Coronavirus pandemic. Every aspect of an HR team’s job has been made more difficult.

Recruiting and interviewing over video chat. Conducting performance reviews on employees who have gone unseen in person for months. Attempting to maintain proper personnel files while working from the kitchen table.

These are just a few small examples of the everyday processes that have been completely overhauled by the COVID-19 pandemic. In what seemed like an overnight transformation, entire companies were forced to shift their office-based work model to a completely remote environment.

During such an uncertain and stressful time, there have been plenty of opportunities for company culture to lag behind. But for those companies that make use of a human resources operations roadmap, they are one step ahead.

Because they have this blueprint to refer back to, company culture can more easily adjust to the new normal. Goals and timelines remain in sight, helping to keep everyone on the same page despite varying physical locations.

Benefits of HR Roadmaps

In addition to the aforementioned benefits of human resources operations roadmaps,  there are countless reasons to start implementing this technique.

The human resources operations roadmap keeps the HR team—along with other areas of the company—in sync. The company’s objectives and priorities are clear. The same is true for that of individual teams.

Oftentimes, projects with competing resources or timelines can create a jumbled work atmosphere. It can become easy to get sidetracked or to lose sight of the path ahead.

The key to keeping these priorities straight is to remember how they fit into the overall schema. This is yet another example of how important the inclusion of a human resources roadmap is.

When new projects and initiatives are introduced, they are added to the roadmap accordingly. This helps ensure projects are timely and focused, to help minimize wasted time and resources.

Building a Human Resources Operations Roadmap

In looking at the overall human resources operations roadmap, it can seem intimidating to implement. To achieve such a major change in the way the HR department operates, a large effort requirement exists.

But taking the process one step at a time ensures the project is doable. Plus, it helps carefully apply the methods of the HR roadmap to the individual operations of each team.

This way, each step can be monitored for effectiveness. If there are any issues in their application they can be quickly remedied. This helps to keep everything in scope and avoid burnout when taking on such a momentous task.

While the actual procedures behind each step will vary with company size, they are important to any human resources team when creating an HR roadmap.

Step 1: Documenting

Before embarking on the journey of developing a human resources operations roadmap, there is an important first step.

Without knowing where one has started, it can be difficult to identify where to go next. Before even touching on what should be included on the human resources operations roadmap, it is critical to evaluate the current state.

It’s critical to work on this step with an open mind, and a commitment to honesty. It may feel natural to want to be defensive against certain aspects that are hard to face. Evaluating the shortcomings of one’s own team is never easy.

However, it is of utmost importance. In order to successfully forge a path ahead, each team must take a humble look at the current environment. This can be further broken down into sub-steps.

Evaluate Key Processes

This step is multi-dimensional.

Taking a cold, hard, and objective look at where the HR team currently stands will help shed light on where it needs to go. This is where issues, inefficiencies, and bottlenecks are identified.

This way, they can be properly remedied and teams can avoid the inclusion of these factors in the new HR roadmap.

In particular, this step will help identify at what degree of depth change needs to occur. In turn, this helps inform how deep the planning process needs to go.

Are the issues more at the material level? If so, employee interviews may be enough to get a hold of the situation.

Is it more at the functional level? If this is the case, then more in-depth data analysis needs to be done.

This step will entirely vary on the HR team and its current condition as part of the organization.

Appraise the Current Workforce

To get a full-scope view of the current workforce, it’s important to take a step back and think objectively. This goes far beyond the organizational chart with just names and job titles.

Rather, HR professionals must think of the employee as an entire person. They must consider what they bring to the table in a holistic way. Employees should be appraised for the overall value they bring to the organization.

The most straightforward way to accomplish this goal is to identify the knowledge, skills, and abilities of current employees. The areas that should be analyzed for each employee include:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Relative performance
  • Education levels
  • Other training/certifications

These are just a few examples of areas to cover in the workforce evaluation. There may be additional factors to consider, depending on the industry.

This step also includes evaluating talents that go beyond the respective job description. These less-obvious talents may provide an opportunity for growth both in this individual employee, but also within their team.

The more an HR team can get to know their employees both personally and professionally, the more these lesser-known talents and skills will be discovered.

Where to Start?

This step may be more difficult in larger companies with thousands of employees. In this case, evaluation at the team-level may be more appropriate and time-effective.

However, getting down to the smallest level possible is an important exercise. It helps to shine a light on inefficiencies and staffing under- or over-loads.

The best place to start with identifying the strengths and weaknesses of a workforce may be with performance reviews. These provide a great opportunity to hold employees accountable for their weaknesses, but also to make note of their strengths.

In addition to informing this stage of HR roadmap development, it can help empower employees if they feel their strengths are truly seen and valued.

Performance reviews are also useful in identifying which employees may be able to take on additional responsibilities. Those team members who rank highly in the aforementioned categories used to evaluate them may be ready for more challenging work opportunities.

All of this information is important to take into account when evaluating the current workforce and beginning to plan which direction it should be heading in.

Assess the Competition

Introspection provides extremely beneficial insights on the current state of the company, as well as areas ripe for improvement. However, yet another opportunity to identify growth potential can come from looking at those who are notably successful in the same field.

It may be helpful in this stage to take a good look at industry rivals. There are many helpful questions to consider, including:

  • What do the HR teams of the biggest competitors look like?
  • What do they value?
  • What business model do they base their work on?
  • What do these HR teams do that work?
  • What do they do that doesn’t work?
  • What do they do differently that successfully attracts top talent?

Taking the time to closely analyze the HR functions of competitors helps to inform what works well—and not so well—within one’s own organization.

Step 2: Brainstorming

With a solid idea of the current state of the workforce, it’s time to turn sights ahead. Now is the time to begin the planning stages of the human resources operations roadmap.

The more information that can be gathered over this stage, the more insightful the process will serve to be.

When sitting down to plan out the HR roadmap, the first step is to just get ideas onto paper.

HR leaders should think about the major purposes of the project and what they are looking to achieve. Now that they have a good subjective view of the current state, where to next?

HR teams should produce a future state vision based on the goals of the department and the organization. While every element of this vision may not make it onto the final HR roadmap, it’s important to turn over every stone.

Brainstorming should be an encouraging step, allowing for creativity and purposefulness. To avoid a sense of overwhelm, the brainstorming stage can be further broken down into smaller, more achievable steps.

Establishing Priorities

There are often a variety of competing goals for what an HR team ultimately is looking to achieve.

But a roadmap with multiple destinations can become convoluted and confusing. As such, it’s important to prioritize goals and determine what is most important for the business.

Consider the end result of each aspiration.

What time and resources do they require? Is there more time-sensitivity on any particular initiative?

These are examples of important questions that can help illuminate how to prioritize each project. Furthermore, it becomes easier for HR professionals to visualize how manageable each goal and thus determine which objectives should be put first.

Locating Resources

While there may be a load of great ideas for upcoming initiatives, it’s important to think about each one in the overall context of the business.

The idea of resources within the department and the company as a whole go beyond funding. While this is an important factor, there are so many key time and employee delegation considerations to take into account.

The HR team supports so many important processes, that burnout can take over if not carefully monitored. When planning out an HR roadmap, it’s critical to consider the proper allocation of resources to avoid over-committing.

Streamlining Hiring

One of the most important functions of any HR team is recruiting and hiring. With a successful human resources operations road map, it’s easier to locate staffing opportunities throughout the business.

Plus, the hiring timeline is made as time-effective as possible. This takes out the chance of losing top talent due to inefficient hiring practices. Red tape is removed, and more time for a true analysis of the best candidates is opened up.

The entire hiring process from recruitment to onboarding becomes structured around the goals of the business. This creates more efficacy in hiring procedures.

Introducing a Succession Plan

One important way to help promote long-term streamlining of the hiring process is through the creation of a succession plan.

As businesses grow, change is inevitable.

Change can come in many forms, but almost always leaves holes in the respective department. These openings may be resultant of restructuring departments, employees moving on to new companies, or the termination of unsatisfactory team members.

HR teams must move quickly yet carefully to fill these gaps and keep the train moving as best they can.

Opportunities to add to existing teams or create new teams altogether require careful selection of new hires. Especially during a period of rapid growth, forward thinkers who can help keep productivity high during chaos will be the most successful in the long run.

To help minimize disruption from these gaps, HR teams should consider adding a succession plan to their roadmap brainstorming.

These succession plans help to identify critical roles across the organization. Next, they make a back-up plan, should this role become vacant for any reason.

It begs the question: if this team member were to suddenly vacate this position, what other employees have the skills to immediately assume the role? If none come to mind, does it make sense to hire someone now who could more easily move into this role?

The succession plan may be created with or without the input of the employees themselves.

Including their perspective may be helpful in determining the accuracy of the plan. It would shed light on their individual career goals, future aspirations, and how they align with the goals of the succession plan. Plus, an opportunity to increase transparency can go a long way.

On the other hand, creating succession plans can still be effective for teams that wish to keep these blueprints behind the scenes.

Improving Efficiency

Keeping business activities as efficient as possible should always be one of the overarching goals of a successful, modern human resources department. One of the most useful benefits of HR roadmaps is to help scale the business in the most structured yet time-effective way.

By analyzing company goals in this way, opportunities to improve efficiency are illuminated. Suddenly, it becomes more clear where automating and streamlining might be most attainable.

Forecasting Employee Development

A human resources operations roadmap is beneficial to building a qualified and effective workforce.

Arguably the most important piece to this puzzle is making the best use of the talent from each player in the organization. This fosters teams that will be successful in the long-run.

Plus, it helps to promote a sense of value among employees that can help foster loyalty and dedication.

Making a point to think past, present, and future about the role of each employee can help to inform the brainstorming process. One simple way to achieve this goal is to create a development plan for each employee.

These plans provide a clear sense of direction for employees. The path for career advancement should be easy to identify, thus driving more growth personally and professionally.

Each employee will know what skills are needed to take the next step in their career, thus promoting an aspirational work ethic that will support the goals of the company.

The key to ensuring the effectiveness of these employee development plans is to keep them positive.

They should be seen as an opportunity to build on potential and maintain a continuous improvement mindset. They should not come across as a form of corrective action by leadership.

By including these employee development plans in the brainstorming process of the HR roadmap, an HR team can feel confident in their ability to locate areas requiring action within the organization.

They can plan for the present and future needs of the workforce while evaluating opportunities where skills are not properly optimized.

Step 3: Consulting With Stakeholders

While HR may be involved with every area of business in some way, there are always blind spots.

It’s important for HR professionals to consult with leadership from all areas to get a better idea of the challenges facing each department. This will help inform all of the aforementioned goals of the human resources operations roadmap.

However, it’s also equally as important to take into account the experience of the front line.

For smaller businesses, this might even mean sitting down with each employee. This way, teams can gain more insight into how overarching goals are translated into the individual employee workflow.

These insights can be critical in identifying how tubes improve the employee experience. The more perspectives that are taken into account means the more informative and meaningful the information will be.

Step 4: Evaluating Options

One of the most important areas to consider before beginning the roadmap is to ask oneself, how big is the gap?

In other words, each HR team must analyze the difference between the current state and the ideal state. Between the point of departure on the roadmap and the point of arrival—how big is this distance?

This will help inform how long and momentous the journey to achieve this outcome will be. This is critical to keep in mind before putting plans on paper.

Once all factors are considered and it’s time to begin actually building the roadmap, the shape of this can vary by team and by company.

At this point, the road ahead should begin to take shape. From here, there are usually multiple paths this HR roadmap may take. It’s important to explore all of them and understand the differences they pose.

How can each path benefit the overarching goal of the roadmap? What benefits could be pulled from each approach to create the best overall plan?

Also included in exploring each approach is the costs and effort associated with implementation. All things considered, taking these alternative views into account can help refine and perfect the eventual human resources operations roadmap.

It also provides peace of mind to HR leadership. Knowing no stone has been unturned and all options have been explored means only the best path ahead was chosen. More credibility is thus introduced into the final HR roadmap.

Step 5: Making a Plan

Now that HR leaders have gathered a plethora of information and outlined major goals, it’s time to identify the elements that will actually go on the human resources operations roadmap.

There are no exact guidelines for this.

Every company is different. As such, the most important initiatives and priorities will differ between each organization.

It is up to HR leadership to carefully identify which goals are most important—and prioritize these along the course of their roadmap.

But one aspect that is critical to include across plans for any organization is budgeting. Budgets and costs influence every area of HR operations. By including this information into each item on the roadmap, decision-making is that much more effective.

Another set of key factors to take into account in addition to the cost is the effort, complexity, and intended result of each action. There are sometimes those initiatives that are overly costly of non-monetary company resources, yet do not accomplish enough to offset their cost.

The HR roadmap helps to avoid this.

When building a human resources operations roadmap, it’s important to ask: Are these plans realistic? Are they effective? Do they help move the company along on the intended path?

Asking these questions will help to weed out those initiatives that sound good on paper, but ultimately do little to make a noticeable change. Comparing the risks and rewards for each area on the roadmap also helps to nail down priorities as the project nears the final stages.

Step 6: Designing and Building a Human Resources Operations Roadmap

Now that a general outline has been formed, it’s time to put plans into action.

The actual HR roadmap should contain a view of activities at various levels. Monthly, quarterly, and yearly guidelines are a great place to start. Depending on the project, other initiatives may require smaller or larger time scales.

The first 24 months of the HR roadmap should be the most detailed.

After this, information can be phased into more broad-scope goals and timelines. This makes incremental delivery very possible and avoids the occurrence of information overwhelm.

After the roadmap is created, it needs to be displayed in a way that best communicates its goals.

This step is all about creating, testing, and adjusting. Building the roadmap is only half of it—choosing the best way to view the map is its own battle.

The best view for each human resources roadmap will depend on what level of detail is desired. Again, this will vary by the goals of the HR team and the organization.

Communicating the HR Roadmap

While this step may vary between companies, it is important to get this part right. Even the most well-developed plans can fall through if not properly communicated.

Plus, this is the key to ensuring all members will get on board. Asking HR team members to throw out everything they are used to doing with respect to HR strategy and adopting a totally new mindset can be quite the ask.

Without proper communication, it will be a hard sell.

This is where data and analytics truly shine through. Structuring an HR roadmap based on this information ensures credibility in the message. The information should be easy-to-digest, yet provide clear insight on the best course ahead.

By taking the time to properly layout the HR roadmap, department leadership can ensure their goals and timelines are clear.

It keeps everyone on the same page and motivated toward the same set of end targets. Plus, it’s that much easier to see where future efforts fit into these existing goals and projects.

Building a Human Resources Operations Roadmap For Your Own HR Team

Creating a human resources operations roadmap is not easy. The process is painstaking, but the rewards are certainly worth the time and resources invested.

However, the buck does not stop once the plans are laid. In fact, this is where the real work begins. Implementing the workflows and initiatives that are outlined in the HR roadmap may be cumbersome at first. But at the end of the line, your team will thank you for it.

Contact us for more information on the value of an HR roadmap, and how you can implement one within your own organization.