human resources

Developing a proactive HR Function

When it comes to managing people, HR is traditionally a reactive business function; reacting to situations as they arise is a fundamental part of what HR is about. Now, more than ever before, HR is being called upon to become better aligned with the objectives of the business and the proactive HR lead is taking a place at the “top table”. The positive impact this can have on both your employees and the business is significant.

Delivering on routine operational tasks is at the root of HR, but this may result in a team that is constantly “fire fighting” to complete day-to-day operations. If this is a familiar scenario for you, focusing on strategy may feel more fantasy than fact. However; by investing time to address future business needs, organisations can experience lower turnover rates, better capabilities and are more likely to hire from within. Proactive HR means the strategic development of plans for recruiting, selecting, managing and motivating people. For example, the development and implementation of a fair and competitive pay and benefits structure and management approaches that are proven to motivate employees.

The proactive approach enables the HR team to anticipate issues with staff levels and training. By anticipating shortfalls, HR can develop strategies to alleviate damage, keep productivity relatively constant and help the revenue stream to flow evenly. A more reactive approach sees HR responding to each crisis as it occurs.  A forward looking focus on training and talent management can prevent a scramble for a solution when key staff leave, leading to a sudden drop in productivity.

Know what works for you. Develop practices based on evidence of what works for your particular business, not based on a current fad or the whim of an individual manager. Understand what produces results and resist the urge to establish ineffective processes just because they are popular elsewhere. Plus, don’t be afraid to shift resources to where they have the most effect

Ensure your team is up to the task. Being proactive requires a talented, experienced HR team to develop the strategic approach needed to attract and retain the talent needed for business growth. If you lack the team, ask for support for existing staff and investment in new staff.

Use the right tools. Investing in a modern HR management (HRM) system will ensure all the data needed to support a proactive team is to hand, in real time. More complex than ever before, the expectations of a HRM system span recruitment and selection, employee relations, learning and development, performance and reward and more.  A cloud-based HR system with powerful employee self service allows for the effective streamlined management of HR, reducing the time and resources spend on routine and delivering information, when and where it is needed.

A practical and reactive response to standard HR issues, such as supporting line managers with employee-relations issues is, of course, important and getting the basics right a priority. Yet developing a more proactive approach will deliver results that benefit all the stakeholders in your business – especially the employees.    

Frontier Software is recognised as having developed one of the most successful solutions for HR and payroll management and their products are in use at more than 1700 clients worldwide. A truly comprehensive range of software modules, can be selected individually or as part of a totally integrated platform to deliver a multi-functional and flexible solution.

Contact Frontier Software on 0845 370 3210, email

Article originally published on HR Grapevine November 2020.