By: Amy Dozier on July 28th, 2015

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How to Review What HR Can Do for Your Business: Good, Better & Best

Business Management & Strategy

I have recently been a part of conducting several HR Compliance and Effectiveness Assessments for our clients and one of the first questions we ask the executives and employees is, “What do you think Human Resources is responsible for?” We ask them to think in general terms and not just what HR is doing at their current organization.  

Here is a sample of responses I have heard regarding what HR does:

  1. “reads resumes”
  2. “interview coordination”
  3. “insurance”
  4. “new hire paperwork”
  5. “performance review process”
  6. “tracking PTO”
  7. “company picnics”
  8. “being a confidant to talk about employee issues and being available”
  9. “written warnings”
  10. “let go of employees”

Are any of these responses wrong?  Well, no. HR is usually responsible for all of those things. However, I was a little surprised that the majority of the responses we got were all transactional functions in nature.

Quite honestly, I was disappointed that most of the executives I interviewed did not see HR as a function that could be strategic and add value. With that being said, they must have known that HR could do more than what they were getting or else we wouldn’t have been there.

What Do the Best HR Departments Do?

Good HR - Foundational

Yes, HR certainly handles all of the foundational tasks such as sourcing resumes, generating and sending offer letters, conducting new hire orientations and processing new hire paperwork, administering benefits, processing employee status changes such as pay changes, promotions, and transfers, administering the performance review cycle, resolving employee issues and answering questions, terminating employees, and complying with reporting and record keeping requirements.  These are the things that employees expect and must get done for the organization. 

Generally, I see small businesses operating at this level.  They often do not have dedicated HR staff and do just enough to get people onboard and try to retain them.

Better HR - Operational

Many businesses with over 50 to 100 people, take the HR function to the next level. In addition to the foundational items, HR develops HR policies and processes, assimilates new employees into the organization, talent management which includes performance management, developing career paths, implementing training and development programs, and aligns compensation and benefits programs with best practices.

Best HR - Strategic

The best HR professionals, however, are able to sit at the table as part of the executive team and discuss business planning and initiatives.  They are able to keep the wheels running on the other items previously discussed while strategizing on how to align human capital programs with the organization’s mission, vision, and values.  They analyze metrics and ask for employee feedback to determine how they can increase engagement and retention.  They prepare the organization for the future by identifying skills gaps and implementing programs to fill those gaps either by developing a network to attract new talent or training the current talent.  They implement leadership programs and develop succession plans to ensure the organization will be prepared and able to continue to succeed when members of management begin to move on.

The Evolution of the Human Resources Profession

The HR profession has grown significantly over the last 70 to 100 years.  In the early 1900’s HR was seen, (and by the answers we get in our assessment interviews it still is seen in some of today’s organizations,) as paper pushers and event coordinators.  World War I was really the catalyst for the HR profession.  As the demand for labor went up and the labor supply went down, companies were finding it more difficult to keep workers.  They had to find creative ways to attract and retain employees.

The labor market today is so incredibly competitive and we are seeing employees from today’s generation jumping around a lot more than Baby Boomers ever did.  As such, organizations have to find ways to attract, engage, and retain top talent while contributing to the organization’s bottom line.  HR can do so much more for your organization than just the tactical and operational tasks. 

Your people are your most important asset to ensuing your success and having the right HR leader and giving him or her a seat at the executive table could be your answer to finding what so many are searching for.

The executives  I have worked with on HR Compliance and Effectiveness Assessments were all looking for ways to make their HR Department more effective.  They knew their HR Department could be adding more value to the organization, they just didn’t know how much more value.  Inviting Helios HR in to conduct an HR Compliance and Effectiveness Assessment was the first step toward improving their organization’s culture, competitiveness, and ultimately success. Make the most of your HR department today!

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