Everyone working in HR wants their team or department to perform as a collective, working together to create results for their organizations. But we also know that the demands of the day to day can also prevent us from focusing on the priorities we know will impact true business outcomes. We spend a lot of time with HR professionals trying to get them to visualize what the journey from a manual, labor-intensive HR function to becoming a strategic powerhouse looks like for their organizations. Sit back and relax as we walk you through the steps you need to take to address some barriers you may be experiencing and give you and your HR team the confidence they need to be true business partners along the way.

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Classic isn't always best: Overcome manual processes

HR teams that use manual strategies to address core HR functions spend a significant chunk of their day sorting through paperwork, chasing forms, and browsing filing cabinets trying to find the right information on their employees. Obviously, this is problematic because it's time-consuming, but it also opens the door for human error and creates massive inefficiencies in terms of how HR interacts with the broader organization. One simple mistake in filing a document can set an HR team back hours of productivity or — even worse — result in noncompliance.

Some companies think they're gaining efficiency financially by using a paper-based, manual approach. These are the HR teams working without a designation in mind. According to Record Nation, there are some underlying costs of using hard copies in the office. Obviously, there's the cost of paper itself, estimated at approximately $8,000 annually, and the yearly spending on filing cabinets themselves, at $8,433. Most alarming, however, is the labor costs businesses incur when they use a paper-based process, at around $604,800 annually. This paper-based approach burns through another type of paper: the cold, hard cash your business works hard to maintain.

If this sounds like you, a great starting point is to start thinking about core functions you can prioritize for change.

Digital doesn’t fix everything: Avoid working in a vacuum

Going digital isn’t always as it seems. Moving hard copy processes to digital formats, replacing filing cabinets with spreadsheets can be a step in the right direction and improve data security a bit, it does little to impact overall business outcomes. Digital processes lack a centralized interface, meaning employees will still have to manually monitor and update electronic files. While going digital might speed up your processes a little bit, most things remain time-consuming and still eat up too much of HR's day for them to turn the corner into being strategic.

According to Business.com, 8.1% of HR leaders' time is spent on administrative work (this doesn't even take into account what the entry- and mid-level HR employees are up to on a daily basis). Even though this seems like a minimal amount of time, it still represents way too many resources that could be better spent innovating on HR strategies and meeting face-to-face with employees.

Even though we're constantly told that going digital is a good thing, you'll want to set your sights a little higher and see if you can’t get your strategy to measure up.  

The key to transformational HR? Unify your processes

Reaching the highest level of true HR transformation can free up time for you and your team to focus on what really matters – your people. When you can finally get out of the weeds of manual, administrative tasks and provide the opportunity to go above and beyond, that's when you'll see a significant difference in your HR team’s morale and renewed confidence in their capabilities to strategically support the organization. The best news? Your HR technology can help you get there much more easily.

It might take some getting used to. That's why it's important for HR leaders to show their teams the value they can gain from automating their formerly manual processes. Demonstrate to your HR team members how easily accessible and trustworthy data is at this stage, helping them to better and more efficiently plan for current and future company needs. I’m willing to bet they didn't start a career in HR for the paperwork. Prove to your employees that an HCM platform gives them more time to do what they're passionate about.

Working with the right HCM system can give your company the confidence boost it needs to become a strategic business partner. In addition, HCM software can help your business capture who your talent is and how HR can best support them. And, as we all know, happy employees lead to higher retention, which lowers the business' overhead costs. So get the HR department pumped to progress while giving yourself and your teammates the affirmation needed to succeed.

Published: Tuesday, July 9, 2019