Ways To Support An HR Department of One
Human Resources is a unique component of any organization – it is essential to operations, but does not directly produce revenue. For this reason, it is not uncommon within smaller, or newer, organizations for the Human Resources function to be managed by one person. Despite the heavy workload, and rapidly evolving responsibilities, there are innovative ways that such HR teams can be supported, even with limited financial resources. While senior leadership typically understands the role of HR as policy and procedure enforcement, hiring, and termination, there are a multitude of other tasks that this critical functional area must facilitate. It is possible to ensure compliance with federal and state employment regulations, efficient payroll and benefit administration, streamlined recruitment processes and effective performance management, even with a 'lean' HR team.
While there are certainly some functions that an individual with advanced human resources training will need to manage, there are several others that can be learned fairly quickly. Take a look at the responsibilities that fall within the HR scope, and identify a few that management can be trained on. One common example is recruitment – while the applicant tracking system, background check, and onboarding processes should be overseen by someone with HR experience, managers can easily be provided with insight on how to assist with the recruitment process. Performance management and discipline is an additional area in which HR may not need to be directly involved; promotions and low risk performance related matters can be handled by managers.
While the abovementioned items are by no means intended to be an exhaustive list of potential areas in which management can alleviate the work of a one-person HR team, it is essential that thorough training is provided. Mitigate risks by ensuring that all HR processes directly align with federal and state mandates, and are updated accordingly. Disseminate information regularly and ensure that HR policies and procedures are easily accessible. Incorporate in-depth training on the HR-related areas for which they will be responsible as a component of the on-boarding process for people managers. Take the time to review critical areas of accountability, and be sure to advise managers on how and when to escalate matters necessitating subject matter expertise to the HR representative. Provide direct partnership and allow new managers to shadow and observe HR functions that will fall within their scope of responsibility. Ensure that standards are adhered to be incorporating HR related tasks into managers' performance reviews and core competencies, to further reinforce the importance and critical nature of these areas.
Implement Tools & Resources
Due to constant evolutions and enhanced software proficiency, Human Resources personnel are no longer considered 'paper pushers' or 'data entry representatives'. With that being said, even a one-person HR team should leverage the subject matter expertise to provide strategic guidance and partnership to business leaders, rather than manage mundane administrative processes. Assess and implement HR software to eliminate manual processes, enhance efficiency and automate as many functions as possible.
Common examples of software that alleviate manual labor are Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), Self Service Payroll and Benefits Administration tools, Time & Attendance Portals, Personnel Management, and Performance Management Systems.
A highly effective ATS should be user friendly, have multiple log in's for hiring managers, track candidate flow throughout the recruitment process, and seamlessly integrate with payroll and personnel management systems. Additionally, it should have the capability to export candidate data to the background check vendor's data feed, in order to transmit necessary information and eliminate the data entry component. Self Service Payroll and Benefits Administration tools provide employees with the ability to add and update direct deposit, deduction, and tax information, as well as make benefit changes, identify healthcare providers within the network, and review other benefit related information.
Time & Attendance Portals replace the manual time tracking function for non-exempt or hourly employees, remove the paper trail typically associated with time off requests and allow employees to view time-off banks. Personnel management systems track all pertinent employment data including tenure, title, reporting structure, pay rate, demographic information, and more. These systems replace employee files, save significant time and space, and are easily accessible. Performance Management Systems not only track annual reviews, but can also house online training modules to replace live, in-person training facilitation. By identifying and implementing tools that align with organizational needs, the workload of a one-person team will be significantly reduced.
There are several HR related functions that can out outsourced, including recruiting, training and payroll administration. For a relatively low rate (which is typically negotiable, especially if there will be a high volume of open positions), external staffing agencies can manage the entire recruitment process including identifying candidates, presenting resumes to managers, scheduling interviews, and negotiating salaries. While HR will certainly need to ensure that all employees that are hired meet qualifications and are a fit culturally, day to day involvement in the process will be significantly lower.
Third-party trainers can be hired on an as-needed basis to deliver technical and soft-skill courses. This is especially helpful when training sessions are lengthy and require a great deal of preparation. An additional option is purchasing online modules that can be shared with employees to be observed on an individual basis.
Payroll administration, meaning the actual remittance of payment to employees, is an extremely lengthy and time sensitive process. While payday might only be twice a month, the actual coordination and management of payroll functions requires daily attention, therefore it is typically not feasible for an HR professional to simultaneously manage it and other responsibilities. Large and small third party organizations maintain confidentiality, accuracy and resolve any issues related to employee payroll.
While some of the above mentioned support techniques may be expensive, the return on investment is also apparent. Consider the fact that HR personnel should be perceived as strategic partners and consultative resources, rather than administrators. Therefore, even human resources professionals on small teams should be provided with the tools and resources to drive efficiency while supporting the core of the organization- its human capital.
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