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How to Create a Successful HR Strategy

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Organisations are fully embracing the changes that have evolved HR functions during the last five years such as automated HR processes, company culture and employee engagement maintenance and new hybrid and remote working models. 

So much so, in fact, that HR departments are now seen as strategic functions and therefore must align with top level business goals and objectives.

In this blog we are going to explore the essential elements of an HR strategy is and how to create a successful one with real-life examples.

What is an HR strategy?

An HR strategy is an organised set of methods designed to support high performance work which, in turn, promotes a company’s vision, mission, values and objectives.

HR strategies are often put in place as roadmaps, with the goal of bettering organisational challenges with people centric solutions. HR has transformed drastically over the last decade, with a focus on new technologies, diversity, equity and inclusion and remote working and emotional wellbeing at the forefront.

Characteristics of a Successful HR Strategy

These days, successful HR strategies are typically aligned with the overall business strategy within an organisation. However, while business strategies include tools, stakeholders and external factors, human resources strategies are people focused. Elements of an effective HR strategy include:

Employee and people orientated

HR strategies are heavily focused on people, how they perform, how they are managed and what motivates them in the workplace. This is often driven through technology and data and HR strategies should include feedback from pulse surveys, 1:1’s, townhall meetings and general feedback. All these things will enable better decision making in the workplace.

Performance orientated

It is often said that an organisations best asset, are its people. A successful HR strategy will support with managing performance, assisting with designing the types of roles required of the business and most importantly, identifying what capabilities, skills and knowledge is required of individuals to be successful in specific roles.

An example of this would be HR’s input into creating performance review processes and materials to support mid and end of year appraisals and evaluations. Additionally, HR often work closely with recruitment teams and managers to develop the correct job roles, descriptions and responsibilities.

Reward orientated

Behind any workforce is often a robust reward process, ensuring employees are not only correctly and fairly monitored but also rewarded for their commitment and efforts.

For example, value-based recognition is a reward process in which if an individual acts in a way that mirrors the overall company’s purpose and values e.g. act with patience and consideration, then they are both recognised for it by senior managers and leaders and then appropriately rewarded for their commitment to the overall business goals.

Change and organisational structure orientated

Businesses of any size can go through change, and it is a significant part of a human resources function to assist both the organisation and its people through these changes.

An example of this would be if the hierarchy structure of a business was changing significantly, HR would work in conjunction with the Internal Communications team to create a communications plan that appropriately informs all members of staff, whether this be firstly through a global townhall meeting and then followed by individual function meetings.

Training and development orientated

It is no secret that training and development in the workplace is a non-negotiable for most employees, in fact, 89% of working professionals insist training opportunities are available to them anywhere and anytime throughout their roles.

HR strategies will include elements of training and development, in conjunction with the training and development function and will clearly articulate how employees will be correctly onboarded, including induction plans, training, upskilling and continuous development.

How to Create a Successful HR Strategy

Now we know the characteristics of a robust human resources strategy, how do businesses best create one?


1) Undergo a SWOT analysis

CIPD describe a SWOT analysis as a planning tool that seeks to identify the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities in either a project or the organisation.

A SWOT analysis is used to define current business achievements and capabilities, measured against its downfalls and the environment or situation in which it operates in. For example:

Strengths: positive attributes that are specific to the organisation or project and are within the businesses control.

Weaknesses: internal factors in which affect the businesses ability to reach a specific goal.

Opportunities: areas that could be improved on, possibilities in the pipeline, external reasons as to why a business could develop and expand.

Threats: what is working against your company and it’s ability to be successful? These are external factors that are out with the company’s control.

The information gathered throughout a SWOT analysis can then be plotted, critical issues can be identified, strategic tasks and options can be planned and outcomes can be prioritised. 

2) Create a mission statement

A HR mission statement is clear summary of the function’s goals, objectives and purpose. The aim of a mission statement is to directly show how the HR department will not only influence but impact the overall businesses strategy, and consequently, the general HR strategy.

Mission statements are highly beneficial because:

  • They guide the acts and processes of the department
  • They improve recruitment and retention processes, and
  • They encourage employee development

Some examples of quality mission statements include:

American Express: Become essential to our customers by providing differentiated products and services to help them achieve their aspirations.

Disney: To entertain, inform and inspire people around the globe through the power of unparalleled storytelling.

Enyota Learning: To help organizations achieve their business objectives by adding value to their training initiatives. We believe in building and delivering training experiences that have the ability to transform businesses and truly make an impact where it matters.

3) Align the HR strategy with business needs

Once your SWOT analysis is complete, it is vital to ensure that the goals and objectives of your HR strategy align with the needs of the business. A real-life example of this would be:

Your business is suffering with retention of employees due to the pressures of the cost-of-living crisis; employees are exiting the business in search for better employee benefits and salaries.

In this case, the HR department should work to include employee rewards, performance recognition and retention strategies to ensure the business is doing everything it can to support its current employees. HR’s role will be vital to sourcing how to best act in response to the business need and, in turn, create solutions that will benefit both parties.

HR professionals can sometimes struggle with aligning their strategy to the overall business one, however, research suggests that a few ways to best do this include:

  • Gaining input from those who developed the business strategy and those following it
  • Ensuring all policies, not only HR ones are included in the HR strategy
  • Ensuring there’s criteria in which the strategy can be measured so that improvements can be made over time

4) Determine what success would look like

Knowing where you want to go and what ‘good’ looks like for your organisation is vital when creating an HR strategy. While this could realistically include many factors, we recommend focusing on:

Company culture: ask business leaders how an HR strategy will not only improve employee experience but also have an impact on overall business culture, including health and wellbeing in the workplace.

The organisation as a whole: ask business leaders where they want the organisation to be in the next two to five years? This focuses on employees and how the right people will contribute towards profit and scalability.

Employees and people: what kind of skills and knowledge do you need to exist amongst your workforce? Does your organisation rely on employees having a certain skillset? If this is the case, specific learning and development programmes should be included in an HR strategy.

HR systems: how do you foresee your current HR systems and processes aligning and collaborating with those currently used within the business?

5) Collaborate and communicate

To create a robust HR strategy, collaborative effort and crystal-clear communication is vital. HR’s responsibilities run through each business department including IT, marketing and finance, so input from these departments when creating an HR strategy is useful. Additionally, collaboration with senior managers and leaders is vital as they will eventually, sign-off the strategy.

It is important to ask for input and feedback throughout the creation of any strategy, as it is easy to become narrow focused and lose overall business perspective.

Remember that everyone communicates and absorbs information differently. This means that communicating throughout the process of creation in a variety of ways, is likely to increase the quality of the strategy.

This could be:

  • One-to-one, in-person meetings
  • Microsoft Teams meetings
  • Workshops, and
  • Small focus groups

Examples of Successful HR Initiatives

It’s no secret that effective HR strategies are the backbone of organisational success. Take some inspiration from other HR departments and the strategies they are using to reach organisational goals and objectives. Some include:

As a communications company, BT have had strong results through their robust HR strategy. During monetary crises such as the increased cost of living and the credit crunch, BT worked to retain, retrain and redeploy their employees. The reasoning behind this strategy was to allow employees to move in and around the company but remain loyal during a time of uncertainty.

Did you know that over 30% of the Rolls-Royce senior managers started in entry level positions within the company? Determined to create a human resources strategy that aids both transformation and evolution, the company is committed to training and developing their staff, and like BT, employ apprenticeships across their UK sites who often work their way up the company ladder and work with Rolls-Royce throughout the entirety of their careers.

Glassdoor recognised LinkedIn in their 50 best places to work survey and for good reason. LinkedIn is big on HR innovation and knows that happy employees are often the most innovative. Committed to building a creative and fun team culture, LinkedIn holds a company InDay, in which employees take a break from their normal working hours and tasks and together collaborate and brainstorm new ideas and initiatives for the company. Not only does this reiterate to employees that their opinions and ideas matter, but it also creates space for creativity and people development.


As you can see, creating a successful HR strategy doesn’t need to be complicated, costly or take years to implement. It just needs to be relevant to your business, create impact for your employees and allow space for development.

We hope this blog has provided some guidance for your future organisational plans and wish you the best of luck.


If you’re an HR professional looking to advance your career, enrol on a 100% online CIPD qualification with Acacia Learning today.