If you’ve been in HR for more than a couple of years you’ve probably noticed that the workload has expanded – a lot. I would even go so far as to suggest that it has tripled over the course of the last two decades! There – I said it, I believe it’s true, and here’s why.
When I took my first HR Director job at a manufacturing company in the southern US some 20 years ago, workforce diversity was still in its infancy, artificial intelligence (AI) didn’t exist, people analytics wasn’t a discipline yet, and the words “employee experience” had never crossed the lips of a single HR practitioner. My biggest issue then was controlling healthcare costs, something we still wrestle with today.
Despite the digitization of the work place, many HR departments are still so deeply entrenched in the manual work of maintaining data that they have absolutely no capacity to be a strategic partner to the business. They’re holding the business back while at the same time missing out on the most fun work that the modern HR role has to offer.
To help overworked HR practitioners free themselves from an excess of work, much of which we never wanted to do in the first place, let’s review the human capital management (HCM) maturity model we’ve spoken about in several other articles. We even built an infographic to illustrate the journey. The goal this time is to help you determine where you are on your journey toward strategic HR. More importantly, we’ll use our maturity model to identify specific actions you can take to leave behind the most unproductive tasks and spend more time on what truly matters.
Moving on from the manual stage
Let’s face it – no one wants to be at the low end of the maturity curve, but it’s important to know if you are there so you can get out fast.
You might be in the manual stage if...
- You must constantly put out fires, are mostly reactive, and have looming compliance risks.
- You're spending too much time creating paper trails.
- You have an extensive collection of filing cabinets in your office.
The most effective way to get out of the manual stage is to eliminate some of your current workload. That might seem easier said than done, but leveraging modern cloud technology enables you to automate and redesign manual tasks and provide you with a single source of truth for all employee-related processes. Here are some things you can do to kickstart positive change:
- Build a vision for the future and map out your journey on the HCM maturity model. Consulting with seasoned HR practitioners like Kronos' HCM advisory group can be a big help here.
- Identify the cost of taking no action. What are your opportunity costs? What will happen if you continue to run HR the way you have been?
- Leverage lessons learned and use case studies from the many companies that have gone down this path before you to benefit from their experience.
- Create a business case for how HR and the larger organization will benefit from a unified HCM platform
Digging out of the digital stage
The digital stage is a step forward for sure, but you’ll still face plenty of issues here. Your biggest headache at this level is that you have more systems and point solutions than you have fingers on both hands and a good portion of your time is spend dealing with or preventing data discrepancies.
You might be in the digital stage if...
- You wake up in the middle of the night covered in sweat because you just realized you didn't run a full manual data reconciliation before submitting your payroll.
- You don't trust your data and feel that going digital didn't make your life easier as had been promised.
Getting past the digital stage requires being honest with yourself about your progress and looking even further forward. Here’s how to keep pushing yourself and your team upwards:
- Realize that the digital stage isn't the end of the journey. Many HR departments in the digital stage falsely believe that this is the end point. This might have been true 10 years ago, but couldn't be further from the truth today.
- Catalog the disadvantages of and extra time spent on disconnected digital applications.
- Use the insights you gain to deepen your business case for how HR and the larger organization would benefit from a unified HCM system.
Triumph in the transformation stage
The transformation stage is where all your hard work pays off and you see the HCM platform investments you’ve made reflected in you and your staff being freed up from manual processes. But the impact of the transformation stage goes well beyond HR because it also removes barriers for employee engagement and productivity. It enables managers to be more effective and have more time to focus on the work that truly matters, and gives executives the insights they need to see the business value of the organization’s people strategy.
You may have achieved the transformation stage if...
- You can use people data to understand and predict business problems in real time.
- You have the bandwidth to create a competitive advantage for your business.
- You trust your data and can make data-driven decisions.
- You've established a strong line of sight between key business objectives and the HR work you're doing.
- Your CEO tells you that she couldn't run the business without you.
Today’s HR practitioner is dealing with a multitude of issues and challenges that go far beyond what I had to be concerned about 20 years ago. There’s no doubt that your job has gotten more complicated, demanding and stressful. On the upside, you now have the option to put in place a modern, unified HCM system that can take much of the tactical, manual, and time-consuming work off your plate so you can focus only on efforts that push your people and your organization forward.