June 21, 2021

8 Ways to Lighten Your HR Department’s Load

Your HR department works hard. Maybe too hard.

Business leaders often look to their HR teams to make work more efficient for the rest of the organization, but it’s very likely that your HR department is itself crying out for ways to lighten its workload.

You need to listen. Here are a few tips to help your HR department help the rest of your workforce:

1. Upgrade Your Payroll Software

Your HR department probably doesn’t do payroll by hand anymore, but if it does, you need to invest in a digital payroll system yesterday.

More likely, your HR department uses an outdated payroll platform that doesn’t accommodate the complexities (and flexibilities) of modern workforces, which are often composed of independent contractors, full-timers, and part-timers all at once. Get your HR team a payroll software that makes it easy to account for the myriad ways work gets done these days, and the team will have a lot more time on its hands.

2. Use an Automated Applicant Tracking System

Hiring, like payroll, is one of the most resource-intensive HR processes. That’s especially true for businesses with high-volume hiring needs, like food service, retail, and other high-touch industries. If your company hasn’t done so already, it’s time to get on the automated applicant tracking system (ATS) bandwagon.

You’ll still need human HR professionals to manage the higher-touch aspects of the hiring process, but automated tracking tools enable your team to eliminate unqualified or unsatisfactory candidates much more quickly. That can shave a significant amount of time off the average hiring process, because your HR team will only have to worry about screening and interviewing qualified candidates.

3. Deploy a Turnkey Benefits and Time Management Application

Your employees occasionally (or perhaps frequently) need to adjust their benefits, request time off, and perform a variety of other basic administrative functions. You can’t expect human HR professionals to manage every single one of these interactions. Let a turnkey benefits and time management application can do that instead.

Most employee-HR interactions are routine and don’t require real-time human supervision. The fewer of these routine tasks that HR needs to handle, the more time HR employees will have to manage more challenging issues.

4. Craft a Detailed, Searchable Employee Handbook to Answer Common Policy Questions

Building on the previous point about taking HR out of the equation when it comes to routine employee needs, one of the most effective ways for HR departments to reduce their workloads is to invest in a detailed employee handbook. This handbook should answer common questions that come up in the course of employee-employer relationships. That way, employees can consult the handbook instead of turning to HR for every little issue.

Since this comprehensive handbook is liable to be quite long, your best bet is to make a searchable, digital version. If the handbook is easy to use, more employees will use it.

5. Implement a Standardized Performance Management Plan

Everyone seems to have their own opinions about how to track and manage employee performance. Because these functions are often handled by HR departments (which deal with the outcomes of the performance management process) and non-HR supervisors in tandem, tensions often flare over differing performance management philosophies.

Settling on an effective, standardized performance management scheme can reduce these tensions. When there’s a clearly delineated process that everyone must follow, there will be less room for derailing disagreements. Give your HR department ownership of the deployment process, but allow non-HR managers to offer input to reduce the risk of surprises down the road.

6. Use Project Management Software to Organize HR Projects

This tip could apply to any internal department, but it’s worth mentioning nonetheless. Project management software exists to make complex projects easier to manage, and the HR team’s plate is often full of such complex projects. Tracking those initiatives through project management software is far more efficient than using spreadsheets.

7. Institute a Modified Open-Door Policy That Respects Your HR Department’s Time

Open-door policies have been in fashion for some time now, especially in flat organizations where management is virtually indistinguishable from the rank and file.

An open door isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can quickly eat into your HR department’s time if employees are using it for every single concern that arises — even those they could solve themselves. A modified open-door policy built around specific office hours is a better approach: It allows employees to come to HR with questions and challenges while still preserving time for HR to get the rest of its work done.

8. Deliver Feedback in Smaller, More Frequent Doses

Instant gratification is the new normal — especially when it comes to employee feedback. Whether you like it or not, your employees want to know where they stand at all times, and that means receiving feedback on a very frequent basis. Your company needs a simple, scalable system for delivering performance data to employees quickly and easily.

The best way to do that is to deliver feedback to employees in smaller, more frequent doses through informal and non-synchronous channels like email and chat. You don’t need to set aside time for a full meeting every time an employee needs feedback. Save that for quarterly or annual performance reviews so your HR team has more time for other things.

Your human resources team is the conductor keeping your organization’s myriad players in perfect harmony — if the HR department is productive and performing well in its own right, that is. If you haven’t done the work to empower your HR department to do its very best, the departments and employees relying on HR for support will start to suffer as well.

You know what needs to be done. It’s past time to invest in the tools and strategies proven to lighten your HR department’s load.

Sofia Hernandez has been a senior HR executive at multiple Fortune 500 companies.

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Sofia Hernandez has been a senior HR executive at multiple Fortune 500 companies. She has written for a variety of major media outlets.