September 21, 2020 | By Darlene Underwood
Human Resources (HR) employees are responsible for addressing immediate problems while preparing for potential future challenges. To successfully handle these issues, it's important to understand the differences between short-term and long-term HR strategies. Knowing how to implement the appropriate strategy ensures that your HR staff is prepared for any situation.
A Human Resource strategy is a specific kind of plan that HR employees develop for a business so that human capital management helps the company meet its goals. An HR strategy will govern various aspects of human capital including the hiring and onboarding processes, performance appraisal, pay, and development of skills.
Depending on the goal and the specific issues faced, both short-term and long-term strategies are invaluable to have in place.
What Is a Short Term HR Strategy?
Short-term HR strategies keep HR departments up-to-date with all current HR responsibilities while working to solve more immediate HR problems.
An immediate problem in HR is an issue that is presently occurring and doesn't require any foresight to predict such as filing the appropriate forms, as well as calculating withholdings. Short-term HR strategies help mitigate some of the potential long-term complications that these immediate problems may otherwise cause.
A long-term HR strategy entails preparing for potential issues that may or may not actually occur in the future. Regardless of how likely or unlikely an HR issue is to arise, it's often a good idea to have a long-term HR strategy in place to address each potential problem.
The timeframe for a long-term HR strategy almost always takes place over the course of many months or even years.
One example of a long-term HR strategy would address the issue of voluntary staff turnover. Employees often leave a company at some point, which makes it necessary to have a plan in place to help make sure the gap they leave is quickly filled by a qualified replacement. A long-term HR strategy here would involve setting up an efficacious employee hiring program, regardless of whether the company is currently hiring.
Long-term HR issues become short-term when they become an inevitability. If it's clear that they will occur at some point, it's important to have some kind of plan in place to handle them before they can get out of hand.
For example, dealing with potential voluntary turnover is a long-term problem until someone actually leaves the company, in which case the HR team would be responsible for hiring a suitable replacement employee as soon as possible. Without a plan in place, the hiring process can be difficult and take longer, resulting in less productivity and holding the company back in the process.
For certain issues, the boundary between short-term and long-term issues can be ambiguous. For instance, an employee may give notice that they will leave the company in the next six months, which would make the long-term problem of voluntary turnover more immediate as the HR team needs to prepare for the employee's impending departure. Ultimately, increasing employee engagement can be a short-term or long-term problem depending on the perspective.
It may be unclear precisely when long-term issues can become short-term, but it's important to consider the various situations when this might occur and prepare for them.
While you may simply want to develop general HR strategies to handle various issues, you'll benefit from separating short-term issues from long-term ones along with their respective strategies. Short-term HR strategies are in place to help resolve short-term issues, while long-term strategies are there to solve long-term problems—they're not always interchangeable and different problems require different approaches.
Dividing HR problems and strategies into both short-term and long-term categories enables HR employees to view problems in two different ways. In turn, HR staff will be able to prioritize what they need to address first and which can be handled later. Otherwise, strategizing can become overwhelming and make it difficult to determine which problems are worth tackling before others. You'll be able to maintain more organization in your HR department and make sure that you're always prepared to handle the myriad of issues that may arise at different times.
If you want your business to remain consistently prepared and avoid potential HR disasters, you don't necessarily need to differentiate HR strategies into short- and long-term. However, this differentiation will enable you to think about problems from different perspectives and plan for issues on different timeframes. As you look at problems in different ways, you'll be able to understand them better, develop the best strategies to handle them, and improve prioritization.
Serving as a Senior HR Consultant, Darlene Underwood is a member of the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), HR Houston, and the American Business Women’s Association (ABWA). She is affiliated with the International Association of Career Consulting Firms (IACCF) and is a Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC).