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  • Mark Shaw

The Benefits of Streamlining HR Processes

Karen Wickre, James Fox and others argue, HR does not exist for the employees, it exists to fulfil a corporate need (or a Department need if you are in the Public sector).

Just as the Marketing department is about generating brand interest, or manufacturing is about making products and the Legal Department is about defending the company’s position, the HR function is certainly responsible for the completion of a range of people-related processes.


The problem I see is that too many of our HR processes are bureaucratic, time consuming and often failing to add real value to the business.


As a corporate function HR has a clear responsibility to assist managers get the best out of their people as well as to minimise the people-risks for the business.  I simply argue we don’t have a mandate to use inefficient processes when more effective options are available.


Take recruitment for example.  While on-line tools and smart algorithms can ‘read and sort’ resumes, why do we still take forever writing recommendation reports for the boss?  There are ways to use your smart phone to streamline this part of the process.  Why doesn’t HR recommend the use of such tools?


Or probation reviews.  Managers know they are required to complete paperwork to confirm someone’s suitability for long term employment but shy away from doing so because the process is complicated and open to challenge. Again, there are ways to streamline this aspect to enable such documentation to be completed quickly and simply while maintaining all the quality controls required.  

My favourite of course is performance appraisals. When 90% of managers say the current process adds very little or no value at all, 90% of HR Practitioners are critical of the same process they make managers and employees use, and up to 96% of employees find the process demotivating; it’s remarkable HR practitioners don’t look for a stream-lined alternative.


Jason Fox argues HR should be known as Human Resourcefulness because the Oxford English Dictionary says, “Resourcefulness is the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties”


Wow!  Imagine a HR function that helped you find quick and clever ways to overcome your difficulty rather than say “did you fill out the right form?”.

Who benefits when we streamline HR processes that find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties?  Everyone:


Employees win because they can minimise the time and effort on risk-mitigating, box-ticking activities and focus their efforts on finding what Dan Pink calls ‘Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose’. 

  1. HR Practitioners win because they can spend more of their valuable time concentrating on the higher-order value-adding activities rather than the more administrative compliance activities.

  2. Line managers win because they can complete essential compliance activities in less time allowing them to spend more time concentrating on delivering core business outcomes.

  3. The business wins because the time and cost of non-productive activity is reduced and therefore the business will achieve higher value for the same cost.

What HR processes can you streamline?

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