HR Management & Compliance

Finances—Where Does HR Fit In?

Yesterday’s Advisor featured tips from Clare Novak on the basics of finance and how to speak its language; today, how HR fits into the picture and some advice on how to turn financial literacy into funding for your department.

Novak, who is an award-winning international consultant and author of Never Rule Without a Magician, a Sage, and a Fool, shared some tips on decoding finance-speak in a recent BLR® webinar.

Become an Asset

Unfortunately, HR is a liability on a balance sheet, not an asset, says Novak. While HR may refer to employees as “assets,” financially speaking, a wage is a liability. Healthcare, vacation time, benefits, incentives—all are on the “minus” side of the ledger. So the question is, how can HR become an asset and have a positive effect on that bottom line?

Increase Productivity

Everything that you in HR do to increase productivity helps the bottom line, says Novak. There are many ways to do this, including through organizational development efforts, leadership training and development, and any initiatives that boost engagement. Such HR functions will help reduce turnover and also have employees showing up to work with their hearts and minds truly into it. Onboarding the right people increases engagement, and they will CHOOSE to be more productive, says Novak—HR can foster this mindset.

Decrease Costs

HR professionals can also become an asset by decreasing costs. Novak notes that reducing turnover is a great way to do this—hiring is expensive! Any way you can improve processes to decrease cycle times (such as hiring time or time to fill positions), you drive down costs. Reducing lawsuits, grievances, and lost time is also fantastic, says Novak, and if HR can hold the line on healthcare costs (or at least keep the increases minimal), it’s a great way to contribute to the bottom line.


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Tell the Punch Line First

Without a doubt, speaking the language of finance will help you secure funding for programs. So what’s the most common mistake HR makes when trying to get funding for initiatives?

When asked this question, Novak had some simple, effective advice. What we tend to do while giving reports is walk the listener through the entire research process—we think we need all the details to help the financial gatekeepers understand our conclusion, but in fact, we’ve lost them. Flip it around, says Novak: here’s the conclusion, this is what we need and why we need it, and this is going to be our return. If you need the details, supply them. But in general, tell the punch line—THEN give the story.

From decoding finance-speak to dealing with the C-suite to routine discipline and documentation, HR never sleeps. You need a go-to resource, and our editors recommend the “everything-HR-in-one” website, HR.BLR.com®. As an example of what you will find, here are some policy recommendations concerning e-mail, excerpted from a sample policy on the website:

  • Privacy. The director of information services can override any individual password and, therefore, has access to all e-mail messages in order to ensure compliance with company policy. This means that employees do not have an expectation of privacy in their company e-mail or any other information stored or accessed on company computers.
  • E-mail review. All e-mail is subject to review by management. Your use of the e-mail system grants consent to the review of any of the messages to or from you in the system in printed form or in any other medium.
  • Solicitation. In line with our general policy, e-mail must not be used to solicit for outside business ventures, personal parties, social meetings, charities, membership in any organization, political causes, religious causes, or other matters not connected to the company’s business.


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We should point out that this is just one of hundreds of sample policies on the site. (You’ll also find analyses of all the HR-related laws and the current critical issues, plus downloadable job descriptions, and complete training materials for hundreds of HR topics.)

You can examine the entire HR.BLR.com® program free of any cost or commitment. It’s quite remarkable—30 years of accumulated HR knowledge, tools, and skills gathered in one place and accessible at the click of a mouse.

What’s more, we’ll supply a free, downloadable copy of our special report, Critical HR Recordkeeping—From Hiring to Termination, just for looking at HR.BLR.com. If you’d like to try it at absolutely no cost or obligation to continue (and get the special report, no matter what you decide), go here.