How HR Can Earn A “Seat At The Table”

I went to the Tri-State Society for Human Resources Management Conference last week. And the number one topic?

Human resources, as a department, wants a “seat at the table.” In other words, they want the same voice that marketing, finance, operations, etc gets at a company.

So how will they get it? It is all about one thing: revenue. Or, more accurately, tracking and then taking credit for revenue that human resources is already bringing in.

HR As A Revenue Generator

The reason today human resources doesn’t get a proverbial “seat at the table” is because it is not seen as a revenue-generating aspect of the business and CEOs – who care fundamentally about the bottom line above all else – basically see it as a necessary evil. But that fact is that isn’t true.

Here are some stats:

  • The average employment lawsuit award exceeds $490,000 and employment lawsuits have increased by 400 percent in the last 20 years, according to the ADP Research Institute. The most common claims are discrimination lawsuits, specifically sex or race discrimination, which can be avoided by having strong human resource protocols.
  • A recent article in Forbes states that the “best way to ensure strategy implementation is to hire the right people into the right company.” The best way to hire the right people is to have a strong hiring process, according to Forbes. That process is put into place by the human resources department.
  • Human resources is becoming more complicated than ever before. The newly-implemented Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the passing of hundreds of new labor laws each year requires human resource professionals to continually stay on top of these developments, or else your company is leaving itself vulnerable to an expensive lawsuit.
  • Human resource departments are charged with running wellness programs, which are becoming more and more popular as studies continue to show that they can be massive cost savers. Wellness programs can keep costs down – 75 percent of total healthcare costs are from chronic diseases, which are the most preventable types of diseases, according to the CDC – and increase worker productivity.
  • Human resources departments are instrumental in negotiating contracts and setting salaries for positions. This helps you control costs while also ensuring your salaries meet the expectations for the jobs.


With it established that human resources is a revenue generator for a company – and a large one at that – it is time to start spreading the word.

Has a new hiring software like VoiceGlance increased hiring ROI from last year to this? Get the word out. Has a new compensation plan increase worker productivity by 5 percent, leading to another $500,000 in gross revenues for your company? Get it out there.

Bottom line, human resources deserves a “seat at the table” but hasn’t because of a branding problem and doesn’t always calculate the ROI it brings into the company. By start tracking ROI and then sharing those results, the opinion of human resources in your company will change, quick.

Views: 135

Comment by Keith Halperin on May 8, 2014 at 4:58pm

@ Paul:

"Human resources, as a department, wants a 'seat at the table.' ...So how will they get it? It is all about one thing: revenue."

"Getting a seat at the table" isn't about revenue, or using metrics, or talking like them so they'll say "Isn't she nice" We'd LOVE to have her input!'- it's about POWER. You get a seat at the table by being too powerful to NOT get a seat at the table, and if you're trying to earn your way in, you've already lost.

"Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never ...

Comment by Kelly Blokdijk on May 8, 2014 at 9:18pm

First of all, anyone who utters that ridiculous phrase or even thinks seating arrangements are important has no business working in HR. Second, no amount of re-branding will gloss over the real or perceived lack of credibility and competence within the HR profession. Third, are these ads working? 

Comment by Steve Levy on May 8, 2014 at 9:20pm

Paul, see this link to a post I wrote before a SHRM-sponsored #NextChat last year about the topic as well as the post-chat recap.

Comment by Keith Halperin on May 9, 2014 at 11:30am

@ Kelly: ISTM that Paul is merely repeating the tired cliches and irrelevant advice of a certain arrogant, clueless, but very famous and successful self-proclaimed "*Recruiting Thought Leader". I look forward to when Paul posts a non-self-promotional article that's original, interesting, well-researched. (And two outta three ain't bad!)


*You might think you know who I'm talking about, but I couldn't possibly comment...


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