You know the drill. In today’s market, the pressure is on for all departments in your organisation to create additional value beyond the tasks they do every day – and HR is no exception. Delivering strategic change projects, while maintain the necessary processes that keep your organisation ticking along, can send workloads skyrocketing – and delay that strategic work that’s so vital for the success of the department and the organisation as a whole.
In the very worst cases, an HR team bogged down in the day-to-day stuff can take its eye off the ball and fail to meet minimum legal or regulatory requirements, leading to significant, unbudgeted cost. Obviously this is an extreme case, but it underlines the importance of ensuring that HR is able to focus on strategic issues as well as the ones that fill up everyone’s inboxes.
So what can you do? How can you find the time and the head space to focus your efforts (and your team’s, for that matter) on the strategic stuff? In this blog, we’ll look at three suggestions to help you get there.
In the rush of activity that takes place every day in HR, there will be instances where your teams step outside of their roles and undertake tasks that line managers should be accountable for.
For example: do your teams sit in on every ER case? If so, you could look to upskill line managers so that they can handle ER meetings on their own – or resolve potential employment issues before HR needs to get involved. With the right training and tools, line managers can even work support each other to deliver best practice ER, such as by note taking in each others’ ER meetings, giving you and your teams back a large chunk of time in the day.
It’s absolutely possible to automate some aspects of HR without removing the ‘H’ from the equation. Some good examples would be tracking annual leave and absences or producing letters. You could even automate processes managing your annual pay review and bonus payments.
By streamlining your processes, you’ll reduce unnecessary workload in your teams – and quite possibly in other teams and roles across the organisation, as your processes rely less on human intervention.
Bringing in a third party can be a powerful tool to free up time in your internal teams. At a very basic level, it’s a much more concrete division of workload – rather than relying on in-house teams to apportion their own time between tasks (with the risk that they slip back into spending all their time on BAU activities), activities are entirely removed from your internal team’s to-do list.
Of course, outsourcing also gives you a resource that you can scale up and down in line with the needs of the organisation, and is quick to respond to new requests. Importantly, an external provider is also often seen as impartial and unbiased, which can increase engagement with services like ER, or grievance processes, compared to when they are managed by internal teams.
So what can you successfully outsource? The answer is just about anything. There are some basic tasks that are very simple to outsource, such as ER, but even more complex tasks can be outsourced to the right provider. The key is finding a partner who is capable of quickly understanding the complexities and unique aspects of your organisation’s HR operation, and one who will step up and take ownership of activities and tasks quickly, so you can get to strategic activities faster.
These three strategies to free up time for strategic projects will no doubt be applicable to different organisations in varying degrees. For instance, smaller organisations may not be able to successfully upskill line managers who are already managing multiple responsibilities, while the success of automation will be contingent on the maturity of the organisation’s IT estate.
Whatever the mix is, finding the right balance will give your team a great head start in strategically supporting and challenging your organisation to ensure its biggest asset, your people, are engaged and ready to deliver in structures and roles that are aligned to delivering your future strategy.
Connor is a trusted partner and extension to the HR teams of many organisations. With over two decades’ experience in HR, we can help you quickly manage spikes in demand, or take away the BAU pain when you want your team to step up and focus on a change programme.