Human resources managers are pulled in many directions. Way too many.

They’re supposed to be value-drivers and culture-changers. Yet most of the time they’re shackled by rote transactional and administrative tasks.

They’re supposed to be recruiting, vetting and securing top talent in the job market. But 67% say there’s a dearth of high-quality candidates, according to Jobvite, and 36% lack the budget to land the best applicants even if they do find them.

It’s nothing new, really. What makes these challenges even more pressing in 2019, however, is that technology amplifies disparities. If you’re stuck with legacy software and low employee engagement, you can be sure there are competitors using top-end, unified HCM systems and cultivating company culture you’d salivate over.

In other words, modern human capital management technology elevates, while traditional HR practices are falling further and further behind.

Let’s look at how the most prominent HR challenges continue to create risk and impede productivity – so you don’t make the same mistakes!


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1. Manual paperwork and data entry

Some industries are inherently more labor-intensive and paper-driven than others. That said, any opportunity to reduce reliance on paperwork and spreadsheets should be viewed as a stepping stone toward more engaging and efficient work.

Not only do manual job functions – filing, data entry, benefits administration, etc. – prevent staff and managers from doing creative, strategic work, but they also create unnecessary silos and administrative burdens. If Person A is the “HR guy” and he works primarily with manila folders and spiral-bound compliance handbooks, what happens when he goes on PTO for two weeks? What if he leaves abruptly without a clear successor?

All those tasks he was completing that relied upon his particular organizational style, skills, and knowledge aren’t very transferable to another worker. It will take months of training to learn the monotonous systems of old. A real-time HCM platform, however, keeps a rolling inventory of digital files and materials automatically, allowing new staff to quickly pick up where another left off.

2. Tedious, time-sucking processes

Any time spent performing a task that could be automated is, by some standards, a waste. “It’s always been done this way” isn’t a good enough reason to retain older processes or traditional mechanisms of completing work.

As the HR department is tied down with some of the more dull and repetitive tasks of business operations, such as getting employee forms filled, inputting benefits selections, ensuring employee information is up to date, etc., they stand to benefit most from any form of positive tech disruption, like selecting a modern HCM platform. Adoption of automated tech solutions can limit the tedious and make room for the strategic. And who doesn’t want a little time for the kind of big-idea, visionary objectives they were likely told they would be in charge of when they came on board in the first place?

3. Disengaged employees and low morale

If HR helps set the tone for company culture, then empowering them with the time and resources to prevent low morale is a no-brainer.

Poor employee experience quickly leads to costly turnover and conflicts between staff and management. Work must be redistributed, previously agreed upon raises get tabled, and department-wide initiatives are backburnered – all in the name of finding replacements for employees that leave. It’s a death spiral no company wants to be in.

HR technology can help identify when and why employees are growing disengaged and subsequently clue HR leaders and department supervisors into how to re-engage them. In fact, a sophisticated enough platform can even serve up predictions around things like employee flight risk and recommend actions to proactively address these kinds of issues.

4. Shallow leadership structure

Succession planning is critical at all levels of the organization – not just the C-suite.

A leadership bench that lacks depth can create disruptive power vacuums should top performers leave the organization. And without proactive programs designed to prepare the next generation of company leaders, HR is handicapped in terms of maintaining continuity and productivity when influential team members churn.

On the other hand, even if there are enough leaders on staff to step in and fill gaps, if they’re inaccurately reading the pulse of staff or setting aside their concerns, it may set others on the fast track toward the door. This is why lining up appropriate development opportunities and training for promising individual contributors is critical prior to putting them in a leadership role.

The short version is leadership teams must be stacked with talent and depth, which can be even more challenging for HR than staff-level recruitment and development unless they have the right tools to help with the process.

5. Disparate workstreams and data management

The quickest way to torpedo HR's productivity is to have too many points of data entry.

On any given day, HR might be compiling and analyzing information from payroll, finance, management, executives, employees, and vendors. Can these inputs all be trusted as fully accurate? Are some workstreams feeding you inaccurate or duplicate data unknowingly?

Without a unified, single source of truth for HR data, it’s impossible to have complete faith in the reporting and analysis of others (and your own team). This dangerous truth creates compliance risk, endless redundancies, and enough stress to drive you mad.

Conclusion: So how do we stop all this?

Taking your HR strategy to the next level is a matter of selecting the right HR technology to support your organization's needs, reinforce your corporate culture, and pursue strategic goals. Download our HCM Buyer's Guide to see how you can get on the path to finding the HCM system that's the right fit for you.

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Published: Tuesday, October 1, 2019