Even in the throes of 2012 year-end chaos, it's important for HR to set aside quiet time to plan for the New Year. To help you get started, we asked Ceridian's new chief human resources officer, Sara Hill, to share her goals for 2013, as well as her perspectives on HR's most pressing issues. 

HR goals for 2013: Q&A with Ceridian's Chief HR Officer, Sara Hill

Even in the throes of 2012 year-end chaos, it's important for HR to set aside quiet time to plan for the New Year. To help you get started, we asked Ceridian's new chief human resources officer, Sara Hill, to share her goals for 2013, as well as her perspectives on HR's most pressing issues.

About Sara

sara_hill.jpgSara is responsible for Ceridian's global human resources strategy. She joined Ceridian in August 2012 at our headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with previous roles at U.S. Bancorp, Fidelity Investments and The Hay Group, as well as the Minnesota Orchestra.

Sara holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and an MBA with a concentration in HR from Vanderbilt University in Nashville. She also serves on the board of directors of the Minnesota Children's Museum and is active in local neighborhood organizations.

Q: Why did you choose a career in HR?

A: When people find out I'm in HR, they often ask if I'm a "people person," but I'm really not the bubbly interactive person that you imagine when you hear that phrase. My choice to go into HR was more about the business impact of building relationships within an organization. When I was getting my MBA, I was intrigued by HR because it seemed to be the most general management approach; you can touch every part of the business. I liked that HR provided an opportunity to partner with and consult business leaders to contribute the most value.

Q: What are your goals for 2013?

A: Like many other organizations, my first priority for 2013 is "employee engagement" — except I don't like to use that phrase. I feel like it's becoming a cliché HR buzzword, and as a result has lost its impact for employees. Instead, I'm trying to understand Ceridian's unique culture and find out what resonates with employees, and then take action based on what I discover.

I also want to focus on increasing efficiencies, and that means re-evaluating our service delivery. This was a major focus in HR about five to seven years ago, but I think due to the economy, uncertainty around health care reform, etc., the industry has been in wait-and-see mode. I think it's time to refocus on service delivery for the next two or three years so HR isn't seen as "hanging out," but rather, "coming around the corner." That means gaining access to data that aligns to your organization's goals, which is much easier to do with newer technology that offers compensation, benefits, talent management and other functions in one system.

Q: So what does "employee engagement" mean to you?

A: To me, there are several factors at play with what we call "employee engagement":

  • Trust: Following through on the promises you've made at the highest level.
  • Maslow's hierarchy: Satisfying baseline needs — such as a competitive compensation package — before driving discretionary performance.
  • Environmental: Tuning in to those hard-to-define reasons why people stick around, even during hard times; those aspects that keep people aligned and connected, and proud to say they work for your organization.
Q: What about getting a "seat at the table"? How can HR achieve this-or should they even care?

A: I think first, you need to be really good at the basics of HR: compensation, benefits, etc. These tasks add a ton of value to the organization, but it's entitlement value. Then you have to understand your business, how it works and the people who move it forward. As a next step, you have to build the culture and improve discretionary performance in order to drive business value and gain that "seat at the table."

Q: Is HR expected to have career development resources in order to have competitive recruiting today?

A: It's all about how you pitch it. Interviewees are going to ask about career development today, yes. If you don't have a formal process, you can focus on independent career growth opportunities. Help candidates understand that they own their career path, in partnership with HR and their manager. Some actually favor this over a defined career path because of the wide scope of opportunity it can offer them.

For more information:
  • Review our employee engagement infographic