The HR strategy workshop

A key planning tool and practical implementation resource

Why does HR need a tool like the HR strategy workshop?

The role of HR is increasingly to support change and prepare the company for the future. More than ever before, HR teams are having to engage with the corporate vision and building up in-depth knowledge of their company’s business strategy. One indication of this development is the role of HR in management and on executive boards, or units providing a direct link between these bodies and HR. If business strategy can effectively be translated into a strategic human resource strategy, HR measures will in future have to be defined in standard procedures and subject to ongoing review.

HR strategy workshops are a useful tool in this process. Concise sessions (0.5 – 1 day) with external facilitators can help to pinpoint the important questions and define a timescale for planning. A structured approach breaks down the corporate vision into key elements, and the strategy and the goals and actions involved are defined and discussed.


When is a workshop useful?

There are three main reasons for a workshop: to review and if necessary approve existing strategies; to develop or adapt those strategies to changing needs, and of course to develop new strategies.

HR strategy workshops are particularly useful for small and medium-sized businesses. SME experiencing strong growth must ultimately develop or consolidate their structures if they are successfully to move their communication dynamics to a broader stage. In larger businesses, HR strategy workshops can be used to rate and work on the suitability of new tools for measures already launched. Often, companies appear able usefully to employ multiple HR tools but do not combine them effectively. An HR strategy workshop provides a clear structure for the effective coordination of the individual elements in the ‘toolbox’. Analyzing interactions, scale and sequences of processes and events brings clarity and efficiency.

Examining HR strategy is also useful following restructuring or the launch of new business models, and after mergers. Further challenges are posed by the increasingly global and international nature of companies, and there is greater pressure to adapt HR strategy when core processes are to be moved to subsidiaries or processes are to be harmonized across subsidiaries and parent companies. No matter what the specific scenario, HR defines the need and the exact scope.


How does HR benefit from an HR strategy workshop?

HR looks at its own changing requirements.

HR now has a new key role in companies. With digitalization, Industry 4.0, virtual leadership, the individualization of personnel development and new leadership paradigms, the role of HR has undergone a dramatic shift in recent years and the speed of change in the field is set to increase. An HR strategy process is a chance to get, for a moment, a metaperspective on challenging daily work and to observe and critically assess HR’s own roles (change agent, business partner, etc.).

  • Who do we want to be in the change process?
  • How can we be effective for the organization?
  • What resources do we need?

These and similar questions on the department’s own position should be asked at an early stage in order to strengthen the HR identity and focus on the options that HR has chosen.

HR considers and finds the right scope and core issues.

The wide range of areas that HR has to deal with can cause frustration. The following questions often arise: What aspects need to be considered together; what aspects can usefully be combined in the process or if necessary dealt with later? Human resource planning, development, administration and acquisition need a comprehensive approach. Developing the bigger, shared picture is a powerful tool when the value to the company is clear. The underlying competencies remain, but general awareness of how roles interact within the HR team improves.

HR sets process and performance targets.

A detailed analysis of the current situation is essential at the start of the HR strategy process. In the best case, that analysis reveals clear strengths and highlights future potential for development. An assessment of opportunities and difficulties helps you to create an attractive vision for the future, and usually suggests the first ideas. For the choice of personnel development tools, the focus will for example be on an initial definition of the target group.

As part of the process of defining targets, HR indicators (KPI) can be set to allow results to be reported to the organization using performance criteria. HR should define these quick wins for its own department and for the company, and develop a vision on which its success is to be measured. For many management bodies, this is a sign that HR is firmly in the role of strategic partner.

HR develops strategic action plans.

An awareness of performance and process targets makes it easier to define specific action plans, for example with a timescale of 2 to 5 years. Where such plans are in place, they are a reliable basis for the introduction, continuation and/or extension of measures implemented. Action plans also make it possible to assess and discuss different scales of projects such as pilot projects or potential roll-outs, and the necessary support as part of the overall architecture or project plans.

HR defines internal and external jobs and lines of communication.

Depending on the participants, the HR strategy workshop is a chance to return to any job aspects that are unclear, and to address those points – with the help of the external facilitator. This applies in particular when top management and key stakeholders are involved from an early stage, which is to be strongly recommended. What communication tools are needed for stakeholder management, for example the establishment of a steering group for ongoing project support, can also be decided at the workshop and the initial agreements drawn up.

HR ensures sustainability for the selected tools.

If, for example, the question of a development program for specialists or managers is raised, the HR strategy workshop can be used to analyze how best to schedule initial Potential Diagnostics and supporting measures such as reviews or conferences. The workshop is also a useful platform for addressing budgeting and assessing the organizational framework.


Certain benefits are a specific result of external facilitation:

HR can focus on its own contribution.

External facilitation has a key part to play here. Those in the HR team can concentrate on engaging with each other and the relevant stakeholders to generate the necessary resources and commitment.

External facilitation guarantees results and ensures that ‘lacking’ or ‘useful’ perspectives are brought into the process.


HR learns how potential implementation partners work.

The workshop is an effective initial partnership that should ideally build up trust and offer encouragement for all those involved for the next stage of implementation. A joint design process emerges, that presents the methods to be used and the underlying procedures or philosophy as a shared choice and achievement. This offers certainty and inspiration – provided that the company and consultants are well matched. Effective HR services are increasingly a result of a joint creative process involving both HR and external consultants. The HR strategy workshop should ideally represent just such a creative process.

HR ‘practices’ the planned approach.

Silo structures and isolated solutions in HR are too much a product of the past to still offer sustainable success in a changing environment. That is why HR measures should, as of a certain scale, be defined on a project-specific basis and implemented along project management lines (project management, kick off, milestones, transfer to routine processes, etc.).

An HR strategy workshop focuses on the following key points:



What content can an HR strategy workshop cover?

An HR strategy workshop will always reflect the diversity of the HR landscape. The key is to work together to define the relevant criteria and responsibilities, so that a useful selection can be made from the wide range of possible issues. It will then be easier to address the differing expectations within the organization and agree on the right priorities.

Possible workshop themes (not exhaustive) include


We can help you to choose your core issues and plan your HR strategy workshop in close consultation with you and in line with the needs of your company.