Want to Drive Profits? Start with HR

When asked, most senior executives will list their people as one of their company’s top resources. Yet when given the opportunity to use HR and talent management to make a strategic impact, many hiring managers balk. The idea that HR can actively engage in increasing profits, rather than merely cutting costs, is a new one in many corners–but it should be embraced, not shunned.

From churning to onboarding and contingent staffing, here are seven ways human resources can fuel your company’s topline growth:

1. Hire, train, and retain revenue generators.

Top revenue generators should be encouraged throughout the employee “life cycle”:

Focus your employer branding and recruiting on revenue generation to encourage top-generating candidates to seek out your job postings.
Expand training programs to help current revenue generators and new hires improve their abilities.
Build retention programs that foster satisfaction and loyalty to minimize the significant costs of replacing top revenue generators.

2. Churn your talent pool.

Institute a process for quickly identifying, rehabilitating, or releasing poor-performing employees, while simultaneously identifying and cultivating pipelines for top candidates. Employees who consistently perform below average should be released, while top performers are “swapped” into the newly open positions and encouraged to develop and improve their revenue-generating abilities.

Churning your talent pool in this way offers two benefits:

It releases your organization from the burden of focusing 80 percent of its energy on the bottom 20 percent of its staff.
It fosters continual employee development and long-term retention, while also increasing your firm’s overall performance.

3. Move your people proactively.

The well-known “Peter Principle” states that employees tend to gravitate into positions for which they are actually incompetent: they are promoted until they cannot excel, and there they stay. Fight this pull by:

Proactively evaluating each employee’s areas of greatest revenue generation and skill, and placing your people where they do their best work–not where they do merely adequate work.
Re-evaluate placement of top revenue producers and teams regularly, especially according to fluctuations in the seasonal and business cycles.
Move people as needed to keep revenue moving too.

4. Build your own team of “first responders.”

When revenue problems arise anywhere in your organization, HR should be prepared with a team of specialists that can act as “emergency first responders.” Team members should know how to identify and address staffing-related causes of revenue generation problems, and they should have the power to address those problems in the most effective manner.

For best results, keep your “first responder” team communicating regularly with your staffing partner. First responders should contact the staffing partner when problems are anticipated or identified and give a clear overview of the problem and the people and capabilities needed to address it. Open communication allows the HR team full access to the staffing partner’s expertise, and it gives your staffing partner the information needed to find the best solution.

5. Maximize onboarding efficiency.

Even a strong strategy for identifying and hiring top candidates will get bogged down if the onboarding process is a slow one. Make yours run like a well-oiled machine:

Bring new hires into the organization with an efficient process that minimizes the learning curve and emphasizes the importance of revenue generation.
Give new hires concrete details on how their revenue generation or impact will be measured, what gains are expected, and how they will be rewarded for meeting these goals.
Finally, give new employees a clear place to go for answers when they have questions about their new duties.

6. Don’t forget contingent staff.

Contingent or temporary workers may not be “employees” in the traditional sense, but on the revenue-generating team, they are equal players. Choose contingent workers based on their ability to generate revenue, and don’t hesitate to “churn” the contingent or temp-worker pool in order to keep revenue goals on track. Make your company’s revenue goals clear to your staffing partner, so he or she can choose candidates who are best suited to give your organization what it needs.

7. Support the support team.

Once a year, interview your top revenue producers. Ask them which members of the organization’s support staff most directly helped them achieve their goals or contributed to results. Then, publicly recognize the contributions of these staff members and reward their efforts. By doing so, you’ll foster a sense of teamwork and encourage other members of the support team to increase their own efforts toward revenue-producing projects. You’ll make it clear among your employees that when revenue increases, the results pay off for everyone.

Not certain where to start driving company profits through talent management? Talk to your company’s staffing partner. Recruiters specialize in understanding HR needs, goals, and potential like no other experts; this expertise can be leveraged to make a big impact in a key portion of your operations.

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About the author
Dr. John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations. He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of Talent Management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations / organizations in 30 countries on all 6 continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR and the Financial Times. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the “Michael Jordan of Hiring”, called him “the father of HR metrics” and SHRM called him “One of the industries’ most respected strategists”. He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked #8 among the top 25 online influencers in Talent Management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982-present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website and on www.ERE.Net. He lives in Pacifica, California.