SWOT Analysis for HR Practices

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Prudent human resources practitioners continually evaluate their department policies, procedures and practices. Conducting an HR audit requires a thorough examination of the type of resources you have in place for carrying out recruitment and selection processes, fair employment policies and legal compliance, and procedures for training, developing and promoting employees.

An ideal approach for this type of audit is a SWOT analysis that digs deep into the way your organization runs its HR department. Looking into the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats – hence, the SWOT acronym – provides both a high-level and microscopic view into what your HR department does right and areas where it can improve.

Identify Your HR Department Strengths

You might have a superbly qualified HR manager, or an HR team comprised of staff members with vast expertise in their respective areas. But your HR department strengths must also focus on what you do well, and not just what you have. Strengths might include proficiency among all the HR staff with your department's human resources information system (HRIS). An HRIS enables monitoring of transaction-based activities such as benefits administration, attendance and compensation; some systems include a self-service component that enables employee access to personal records.

In addition to strengths related to HR personnel and HR processes, if your HR department goals are closely aligned with the organization's strategic plan, that's an enormous strength. It speaks volumes about the way executive leadership is embracing HR as a critical player in the organization.

Acknowledge Your HR Department Weaknesses

Whether there's a weak link within your HR department or an HR function that your department has been challenged to master, acknowledging any weaknesses is critical to performing a comprehensive SWOT analysis.

For weaknesses related to the department skill set or a vacancy within the HR department that makes it difficult to accomplish your departmental goals, assess the weakness and brainstorm solutions. For staff deficiencies, reviewing your interdepartmental performance management process may be in order.

For HR team members whose job performance falls below departmental and company expectations, consider skills-building training, professional development, coaching and mentoring to improve employee performance. If there's a vacancy on your HR team, step up your recruiting efforts to attract the caliber of applicants necessary to take your HR department to the next level.

Explore Opportunities Available to HR

Opportunities available to your HR department may range from skills building and professional development for HR team members to state-of-the-art technology that enables improved tracking of HR processes. Other opportunities might include the seating of a new executive leadership team or board of directors to whom you can pitch HR strategy in an effort to realign HR strategy with organizational strategy.

Consider the ways changes to employment laws benefit employers and the employment process, technology might enhance your HR department ability to source highly qualified applicants and vet candidates to streamline your selection and hiring process.

Assess and Counter Threats to HR Department Functions

Threats to an HR department might include an HRIS that experiences glitches, or even budget constraints that prevent you from providing the training and development your staff requires to become fully proficient in their respective duties.

In this case, countering the threat might require exploring technology alternatives that meet the needs of the HR department or developing alternative resources for much-needed employee training, such as creating in-house solutions instead of assuming the expense for off-site workshops.

External threats might include legislative changes such as stringent laws regarding employee rights or extensive reporting obligations that exceed your HR department's capabilities to provide timely and comprehensive reports to federal or local enforcement agencies.

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