Seismic Shift in Human Resources Functionality
March 21, 2014
The human resources industry has undergone huge changes over the last few years. In the past a company’s HR department might have been largely concerned with recruitment and disciplinary and compliance issues, but changes in both HR practices and businesses’ expectations have contributed to the transformation of this traditional role.
One of the biggest changes has been the automation of a large number of HR functions. Many companies now utilise HR Software as a Service (SAAS) systems to deal with issues such as approving holiday requests, organising training and monitoring output. Using the self-service systems, staff can be responsible for much of their own administration.
Additionally, increasing numbers of businesses are switching to ePayslips. Not only do these allow companies to include more information than traditional paper-based slips, but they are better for the environment too. They also enable both human resources and employees to access past slips whenever necessary, such as when applying for a mortgage.
With so much more of the day-to-day personnel administration carried out online, human resources professionals have additional time to focus on more strategic issues. The internet has also transformed how companies recruit staff. Not only is the process much quicker, but firms also have access to a wider pool of candidates, both of which save time, money and effort.
Previously, HR departments have been seen by some staff as working exclusively for the benefit of management. Dealing with disciplinary issues, enforcing contracts and ensuring staff comply with the employee handbook are all part of an HR department’s responsibilities, but they have other obligations too. Rather than providing a barrier between employees and senior management, an effective HR department can serve as a liaison.
Advocacy is an important function, whereby HR departments speak up on behalf of staff in the case of disciplinary action or employee tribunals. Employees expect to be able to air grievances and communicate freely with their HR department, leading to increased employee empowerment and greater job satisfaction. In addition, human resources professionals are well placed to be able to ensure working environments are happy and productive.
Since much employee administration is carried out automatically, HR departments can turn their attention to optimising the productivity and efficiency of staff. Senior management rely on their HR team to provide assistance with strategic planning.
A key feature of the effective HR department is the constant evaluation of progress and the ability to make changes where necessary. Particularly in very large companies, human resources professionals are likely to be heavily involved in the appraisal process, which can result in the accruing of vital information.
With thorough knowledge of the individual skills and strengths of a company’s employees, HR staff are uniquely able to suggest how to get the best from staff. This can be of vital importance to management when setting goals and developing strategies to meet business objectives.
Changing technology and changing expectations are the two main transformations to the human resources industry that have had and will continue to have a huge impact. It is vital for HR departments to focus less on administration and compliance issues and more on problem-solving and business strategy in order to function effectively in the modern workplace.