The difference between traditional and strategic human resource management

You may be wondering what the difference is between traditional and strategic human resource management.

Traditional human resource management (HRM) focuses on things like payroll, benefits, and compliance. While important, these tasks don’t help organizations reach their goals or achieve long-term success. 

Strategic human resource management takes a more holistic approach, looking at how HR can contribute to the organization’s overall strategy. When done correctly, strategic HRM can help your organization become more agile and responsive to change, increase employee productivity and engagement, and improve decision-making. Wouldn’t you like to see those kinds of results in your business?

The basic difference between traditional and strategic human resource management

The difference between traditional and strategic human resource management

Traditional HR departments place a strong emphasis on controlling labor relations, resolving employee issues, and generally maintaining employee satisfaction. Therefore, the corporation will benefit from strategic HR initiatives to hire more people, develop talent, and provide training on company standards and ideals.

Scope of Responsibilities

The limiting focus of traditional HR is on labor relations and fundamental human management. Their objective is to look after employees and keep their content. The HR department does not inform employees of their duties or how things are carried out. They believe workers will learn that from their bosses or on the job.

In comparison, the goals of strategic HR departments are substantially more expansive:

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Employer selection

Enhancing employees’ skills

Creating a handbook for employees that outlines expectations, disciplinary procedures, and what is permitted and what is not

Figuring out how to direct personnel so that the business can achieve its productivity and profit objectives

Human Resource Forecasting

The focus of traditional HR is on present employees. Strategic HR considers what the organization’s needs will be in the future. How many additional employees will they require? What knowledge or training will they need to have? Then HR creates a strategic plan to address the needs of the future.

The goal of strategic human resource management doesn’t stop there. The department aggressively seeks out candidates with the talents the business requires, and then makes recommendations regarding who would be the ideal hiring. Additionally, strategic HR seeks to identify, nurture, and advance talent within the current workforce.

The difference between traditional and strategic human resource management

Heading Off Problems

Although it’s alluring to put off possible issues until they manifest, doing so is harmful, especially when dealing with people. When employees cause difficulties or have discipline issues, traditional HR intervenes. It does nothing to stop the issues from arising.

Instead of being reactive, strategic HR is proactive. Traditionally, human resources would let an employee know when they had crossed the line if an organization wanted a zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment or discrimination. The employee handbook and training sessions inform personnel about acceptable and inappropriate behavior, letting them know what is expected of them right away. Long-term, that might save the business money on legal fees and customer complaints.

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The difference between traditional and strategic human resource management

Constant Updating in Strategic HR

Traditional HR views itself as using the same methods and instruments to carry out the same tasks continuously. Only the employees’ faces alter.

Meanwhile, strategic HR makes an effort to stay ahead of the curve. They stay abreast of innovations in the industry as well as emerging technologies that could facilitate better workforce management. They also keep an eye on the market for cutting-edge techniques that the opposition can utilize to better encourage workers.



Traditional HRM focuses on personnel transactions, while strategic human resource management looks at how people can be managed to achieve the organization’s goals. If you want to learn more about how to implement SHRM in your organization, we can help. Our team of experts is ready and waiting to partner with you to create a custom plan that meets your unique needs. Contact us today for a free consultation about how we can help you implement strategic HRM in your organization!

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