Tactical HR and strategic HR – why you need both

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tactical HR and strategic HR

What’s your company’s HR strategy?

If your HR department works only on tactical processes like payroll and time and attendance, you’re missing out on strategic HR benefits.

Those benefits can include

  • More productivity
  • Higher employee satisfaction
  • Better bottom-line results

Strategy can transform your HR department from a service group to a team that creates value across the company.

Sound good? Here’s what’s involved.

What’s the difference between tactical HR and strategic HR?

Tactical HR and strategic HR are both necessary for a company to reach its full potential. Tactical HR must come first, because it includes things that make it possible to hire, train, pay and manage employees.

Tactical HR also oversees compliance with employment and benefit rules and compliance.

Elements of tactical HR include, but certainly aren’t limited to:

  • Processing forms for new hires
  • Handling payroll
  • Posting compliance notices
  • Recruiting and hiring
  • Writing job descriptions

Strategic HR includes tasks that are future- and value-focused, such as:

  • Building a pipeline of high quality job candidates
  • Managing training and certification pathways for employees
  • Improving employee productivity
  • Developing programs to retain talent
  • Planning for employee and leadership succession

Know the benefits of strategic HR planning

Here are a few examples of how strategic HR practices can benefit the bottom line.


Strategic recruiting can identify and connect with good candidates before they’re needed. That can reduce time to hire and support the company’s growth goals. This is critical for startups and other companies planning expansion.

Productivity and revenue

Programs to get frequent feedback from employees can improve productivity and increase revenue. Well-managed feedback programs can also improve employee retention rates and reduce hiring costs.

In industries where there’s a talent shortage, this can protect companies from poaching by competitors.


Strategic employee development can improve retention and productivity. It can also help brand the company as an employer of choice for job seekers – and for current employees.

This is another way to maintain a talent pipeline and reduce poaching.

Change management

Succession planning reduces disruption when key employees and leaders change roles or retire.

Continuity during transitions can keep investors and employees from jumping ship during a leadership change.

Base HR strategies on your company’s culture and goals

Which strategies should you focus on? You don’t need to adopt HR strategies simply because they’re trending. Instead, do what makes sense for your business and your people.

Your company’s culture and goals set it apart from the competition. Your strategic HR decisions should support your goals and culture.

For example, what if one of your company goals is to increase employee diversity? That starts with a strategic HR plan to reach a wide range of job seekers and build a diverse candidate pipeline.

As your workforce diversifies, strategic HR can lead programs like employee resource groups. These groups give people a place to informally share their ideas and experiences and brainstorm solutions to problems.

An added benefit? These approaches can improve employee retention.

How do tactical HR and strategic HR work together?

Without a solid tactical HR foundation, your company could run into compliance issues or payroll problems that erode employee trust and derail your strategies.

But can strategic HR strengthen your organization’s tactical HR programs?


Good HR strategies can enhance tactical HR functions across the employee life cycle. Interviews, onboarding, performance reviews and more can benefit from strategic input to create better experiences for candidates and employees.

Strategy can also help your company avoid common HR mistakes that involve tactical HR processes.

For example, one HR blunder is hiring in a rush without identifying the skills needed for the role. This raises the risk of hiring someone who is a poor fit for the culture or lacks crucial skills.

Writing job descriptions and hiring are tactical HR tasks. An HR strategy of marketing to passive job seekers can build a pipeline of qualified candidates. That reduces the pressure to pick a poor fit just to fill the job.

An HR strategy to identify the skills needed for the company’s overall goals and culture – as well as for each role – can lead to more accurate job descriptions. It can also result in new hires who are more likely to stay.

Strategy gives the HR department a seat at the business planning table, too. To effectively execute the larger business goals, the whole culture must be aligned with them. That requires HR insight and support.

For example, if your business isn’t meeting its productivity goals, strategic HR can help determine:

  • Why your people aren’t reaching their productivity potential
    • Do they lack key skills? Is there a culture problem?
  • What your employees need to become more productive
    • HR can source trainings, start employee resource groups and provide other forms of employee support.
  • How to implement changes for maximum benefit
    • Change is challenging, even when it will help a team or company reach its goals. HR people draw on emotional intelligence skills to help employees navigate changes.

Decide when it’s time to implement strategic HR

How do you know when it’s time for your company to start adding strategic HR to your tactical program?

There are two schools of thought on the right time to start that transition.

Source: Insperity

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