New research has underlined the all-too-familiar ‘admin burden’ facing HR – but rather than accepting the status quo, many professionals now recognise the role technology plays in improving efficiency and productivity, as Damian Oldham, HR industry expert at Access Group, explains.
A simple task, like updating an employee’s new role on a spreadsheet or logging sickness absence, might only take a few minutes out of the day – but these minutes soon add up. Worse still is when a line manager or payroll officer in another department is completing a similar job, without either of you realising it.
HR is all-too-aware of the time lost every week, as our latest survey1 makes clear. It will come as no surprise to discover that, for almost 43% of respondents, efficiency, automation and workplace collaboration are the key trends for the coming 12 months, yet they are often notable by their absence.
Counting the cost of disparate processes and systems
Over a third of HR professionals cite excess admin and departments working in silos as their biggest hurdles, with a further 12% saying that a lack of time and insight leaves little time for strategic planning. The issue has become so pervasive that, according to our research, inefficiency is seen as the top challenge, ranking even above talent recruitment and retention.
Anyone working in HR knows, of course, that inefficiency only exacerbates common problems like the need to do more with less. After all, how can you develop strategies to make workplaces more attractive to existing and potential employees if so much of the week is taken up with transactional activities?
Companies that regularly divert HR teams’ time away from genuine engagement, risk putting themselves at a commercial disadvantage because they have to recruit more often and/or suffer low productivity because of a disenfranchised workforce.
Manually collating sickness absence rates, for instance, might take up so much time that it’s easy to miss the root causes – which could be anything from work-related stress and conflict in the office to problems at home and persistent health conditions, all of which could be managed with the right support.
Technology that promotes joined-up working between departments, and a self-service culture where employees manage tasks like holiday booking themselves, is key to improving efficiencies, and is something that 60% of those polled view as ‘important’ or ‘very important’. There is, however, still plenty of work to be done, since more than 70% have limited or no confidence in their current systems to deliver the changes needed to drive efficiencies.
Senior managers are continually looking for ways to make operational efficiencies, and HR can take advantage of this opportunity to become the backbone of the business, connecting people, processes and departments.
If a business case needs to be made, I’d point to our research, which found that a third of respondents lose around two working days a week because of poor collaboration between departments. But I’m optimistic about the future: our survey also showed HR is now seen as an important strategic partner in over 40% of businesses and, if they are relieved of the time-consuming processes currently holding them back, this will surely be able to add more value.
To view Access Group’s survey of HR professionals, click here.
Bringing together a host of business functions, including HR, finance, CRM, payroll and many more, Access Workspace helps reduce the amount of time spent on administration and provides a single set of data, which forms a sound basis for decision-making. For more information, visit www.theaccessgroup.com/hr/workspace or click the button below.
 Source: Access Group survey of UK-based HR professionals, 2018.