Maximizing Employee Value

Wal-Mart executive leverages human capital for profits

Arvetta Powell, the senior human resources director at Wal-Mart Stores Inc., supporting the realty division, which consists of more than 3,000 employees, suggests that as human capital becomes increasingly important to a corporation’s market value, the company’s competitive advantage will rely more and more on performance.  In an effort to capitalize on this shifting paradigm, Powell enrolled in the Advanced Human Resource Executive Program  at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. The two-week program immerses participants in HR best practices and leading-edge thinking with a mix of classroom sessions, action-learning projects, and field exercises.

She uses the following measures to transform HR:

Being strategy-focused.
The future success of organizations may very well hinge on the strategic competencies of their people, says Powell.
HR leaders must partner with senior management and convey the importance of human capital assets as core business competencies, she insists.  It will be imperative for HR practitioners to be involved in the planning, design, and development of corporate strategy formation to ensure that HR efforts align with an organization’s overall business plan, she adds. Powell gives special attention to creating a workplace culture, a performance management process, and an employee compensation plan that advances the business goals and objectives of the organization.

Being people-focused and market-driven.
Supply and demand, competition, globalization, and regulation all affect workforce efforts. HR leaders must understand and address business challenges because of the influence of marketplace dynamics, says Powell.
She uses market data to help forecast staffing needs, determine effective recruitment strategies, and recognize professional development opportunities.

Being value-minded.
Powell maintains that HR leaders must distinguish between activities that have worth and those that simply generate more work.
She provides value to stakeholders by harnessing internal talent to identify and recruit other high performers,and by supporting peer-to-peer learning to stimulate creativity and innovation.
For more information about the Advanced Human Resource Executive Program, log on to http://execed.bus.umich.edu.

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