Rapid demographic, societal, economic, and technological changes have become such significant forces in all businesses—both large and small—that executives are becoming acutely aware of how much reliance is placed on human capital—employees—to achieve results. Already at a marketing disadvantage in competing with larger counterparts, small business leaders need to have a clear, fact-based understanding of human capital management and policies and practices that aid in developing a true competitive advantage. Organizations considered as being “human capital-centered” focus on aligning talent strategies with strategic business planning.
The purpose of this study is to explore, describe, and interpret how the phenomena of strategic planning, organizational alignment, and talent were perceived in selected small businesses. The setting for this multiple site case study was three small businesses in south-central Pennsylvania that met criteria such as employing between 100 and 499 workers and being named a “best place to work in Pennsylvania.” To learn how strategic planning, organizational alignment, and talent were perceived, interviews were conducted with the most active senior executive, the highest level human resource director/manager, the human resource development/training professional, key line managers, and other high potential employees in each firm.
This research found that elements of strategic planning, organizational alignment, and talent management are integrated—in varying degrees—in the three businesses studied, although opportunities remain for further implementation.
Changing times demand new thinking and new approaches to the way small businesses conduct their business. Designing, implementing, and maintaining effective human capital focused management will be critical to enhancing strategic and operational goals as well as the continued success of small businesses. Based on the findings of this study, small business executives may benefit by examining their strategic planning, organizational alignment, and talent management in a systematic, in-depth, and continuous manner to evaluate and improve their human capital management system.