5 productivity killers that get in the way of strategic HR activities
by Jolene Nicotina February 28 2019
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The job of HR is dynamic and multi-faceted. HR professionals need to be psychologists, coaches, people people and numbers people. They need legal acumen, marketing chops, and technology savvy. Then, there’s the strategic elements of HR. Increasingly, HR is expected to know the business inside and out, act as consultants and visionaries, and ensure employees are engaged and having a positive experience at work.
On top of all this, there’s the transactional stuff. Paperwork has to be completed and filed. Processes need to be followed. Missing or outdated documents must be tracked for compliance. There’s follow-up calls and follow-up emails. According to Bersin by Deloitte, HR spends 41% of their time on these transactional activities.
While these activities are absolutely necessary, the time required to complete them is disproportionate to the value they drive. HR is missing an opportunity to allocate their time and talent to strategic HR activities—work that directly impacts people, and ultimately the organization’s bottom line. Below are 5 types of transactional activities that take up too much of HR’s time.
Productivity killer #1: Paper documents
Paper is the ultimate productivity killer for not only the HR team, but for employees as well. The process of scanning, copying, faxing, emailing, filing and retrieving documents is a huge drain on everyone’s time. All HR functions—benefits, training, recruiting, employee relations, talent—generate some kind of employee document. Across all areas, the average employee file contains about 24 different documents, and each document can include several pieces of paper. At this volume and scope, it’s easy to see how countless hours disappear to managing paper employee files.
Productivity killer #2: Messy processes
Every employee lifecycle event, such as a promotion or a life status change, results in some kind of process that comprises a number of interactions, forms, systems, approvals, stakeholders, etc. Processes are necessary in most cases. They help maintain order and consistency. The problem occurs when they’re not regularly evaluated.
As business changes, processes may become unnecessary or duplicative, or bottlenecks may arise. Clunky and cumbersome processes create extra work and confusion for everyone. Employees are distracted from their day jobs and HR loses out on employee face-time.
Productivity killer #3: Routine requests
A big time suck for frontline HR is responding to routine employee requests—those that are commonly asked and don’t vary much on a case-by-case basis. For example, “How many vacation days to do I get?” or “What’s the sick-leave policy?” could more efficiently be resolved by giving employees the ability to self-serve.
You may be wondering, “But isn’t the point of HR to be accessible and provide a human touch?” It’s not about eliminating high-touch interactions, but rather reserving the resources behind them for when they’re most needed, such as when an employee relocates or goes on maternity leave.
Productivity killer #4: Case management
Even if employees can access HR information on their own, there will always be cases that require HR’s involvement or the start of a certain process. These cases naturally consume a lot of HR’s time because they’re more complex, and the way in which these cases are managed on the backend also impacts how much time they consume.
Email distribution lists, manual forms or live office hours are largely inefficient because they make it hard for HR to track the history and status of a case, collaborate with other team members on a resolution, or understand the volume and types of requests. Time is also wasted when cases are routed to the wrong HR person, which happens often with the manual tactics mentioned above.
Productivity killer #5: Data overload
Data is certainly a critical part of strategic HR. Continuous improvement relies on data that answers “Where are we now?” and “Where do we want to be?” Getting buy-in for new programs or technology almost always requires a data-backed business case.
Data only becomes a time killer when it’s not optimized for HR to work with. It’s all too easy to lose hours of work going down a rabbit hole of data. Data should make it simple for HR to gain insight into what employees need, see where improvements can be made, and track HR’s performance over time.
More time for strategic HR activities, more time for people
With less time spent on administrative tasks, HR can create more time in the day for meaningful employee interactions, collaborating across functions, leveraging data and insights, implementing new programs, and impacting the employee experience. These strategic HR activities help create a happy, productive and engaged workforce. In other words, less time spent on paper and processes translates to more time spent on people.
Jolene Nicotina is the Content Marketing Manager for North America at PeopleDoc, Inc. She works on making sure HR professionals have all the latest information they need related to HR service delivery, HR technology, and PeopleDoc, Inc. Prior to PeopleDoc, Jolene worked in marketing communications for the healthcare technology industry.