HR as a strategic partner

Back in the days, the HR department’s main responsibilities used to be administrative tasks and keeping the staff motivated. However, the HR function is increasingly becoming a strategic asset that enables more efficient processes and helps avoid potential threats – especially when adapting to a new regulation, like GDPR.

The historical role of HR used to be reactive, and to apply company rules or carry out administrative duties, such as record-keeping and payroll management. HR was usually not expected to forecast possible upcoming issues beyond ensuring that employees’ daily needs were met. Rather than being a driving force, the HR manager’s function was to carry out the wishes coming from the upper management.

While operational duties remain, these days the expectations for HR have greatly risen. Organisations are starting to realise the strategic value HR can provide in business decisions. As HR is becoming a strategic partner for the management team, HR is expected to contribute increasingly to the overall competitiveness, performance and profitability of the organisation.

The role of HR has thus been shifting from reactive to proactive. It’s for example crucial to be able to analyse an employee’s past performance and to think of ways to develop and improve it. The focus is more and more on the future: where the company is headed, what sort of culture and skills are needed to get there, and what possible threats the company might face. In other words, HR is expected to plan and enable long-term strategies, too.

Steering your company through GDPR

Creating long-term strategies always includes the analysis of possible threats. GDPR is a good example. Even though we recommend that you think of GDPR as an opportunity rather than a threat, HR needs to be well prepared for the new regulation. In addition to informing managers and employees about the change, the HR department must ensure compliance with GDPR to prevent litigation and massive fines.

And it’s not enough to just make sure your own organisation is compliant. It’s equally as important to find an HR system provider that truly complies with GDPR and keeps your data safe at all times. With the emergence of GDPR, just choosing any vendor is no longer enough – you must find a partner that also offers a compliant and safe product. A good HR solution helps HR act out its strategic function by providing reports and analytics that help make the company more efficient, thus supporting the strategic role of HR even further.

Beyond protecting your company from bad publicity and heavy fines, GDPR can also be used as a stepping stone for long-term discussions. It can be used to raise awareness about privacy and how personal data is managed in the company, i.e. who has access to what information and why. Such discussion can and should originate from HR, while having a hefty impact on the rest of the business – making GDPR a great example of how HR can support and develop the organisation and its long-term strategy.


This is the third post in our GDPR blog series where we discuss the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation. You can find the complete series here