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How High Efficiency Creates High Performance for HR and Improved Business Results

22 Jul

Efficiency impacts HR professionals in every aspect of their work. Whether they’re working on payroll management, employee engagement, recruitment, or compliance, efficiency is not only directly connected to HR productivity and effectiveness – but overall company performance. When HR practices are efficient, a company thrives. Yet efficiency goes much deeper than just getting more accomplished in a shorter time frame.

Although the relationship between efficiency and heightened performance has been thoroughly recorded, many companies have been hesitant to adopt new practices, instead relying on outdated methods. There are companies out there that still abide by the old guard, championing their antiquated personnel management and administration strategies; this despite others who more fully recognize the connection between talent and results when HR is integrated with business decision-making and strategy to promote greater efficiency.

HR departments are increasingly relying on talent management software to conserve resources. These talent management systems keep HR professionals organized, efficient, and allow employees to grow professionally by accurately tracking and assessing data, benchmarks, and projects; in the process, providing invaluable data and insight into operations and strengths and weaknesses.

Organizational Support and Employee Engagement
Taking into account the extent of information HR professionals need to keep track of, organization is of the utmost importance. In my experience, the most efficient and effective HR departments make use of self-service payroll administration, employee training, and staffing procedures. Often times, these simplifications are achieved through technology such as human resource management software.

Through the use and integration of HR software, employers can train new employees with web-based technology, giving access to information and virtual scenarios from remote locations, eliminating the need for additional staffing to implement in-person training. An HR professional can also access compliance or benefits paperwork at any time, print them out as needed, or even invite an employee to complete necessary paperwork online.

When addressing staffing needs, recruiting software has opened up opportunities to HR as well.  Now, when an employer posts an open position, potential candidates worldwide can see it, cutting down on the number of hours dedicated to combing through resumes. This improved efficiency means that when a company manager needs a new hire, not only will the recruitment process be streamlined, but also enhanced through the use of software that enables the businesses to move with greater insight into hiring initiatives and qualified candidates.

Many concerns that fall under “operational success” include the day-to-day activities of an HR department.  While these tasks go unnoticed when done right – people notice right away when they are not. A highly effective HR department needs to go beyond improving the efficiency of the daily tasks.

Integrated Talent Management Strategy
There is one area in which world-class companies spend more than average companies: the development and management of their employees. The practice of investing in employees is yet another way to improve efficiency, as workforce talent cultivated in an atmosphere of enhanced productivity can bring major benefits to organization.

The more an organization invests in its human capital, the better a position it puts itself in to benefit from employing individuals drilled in company culture and best practices – leading to greater efficiency and less wasting of time and resources. For instance, when recruiting, instead of dedicating efforts to vetting outside applicants, firms with integrated talent management strategies can turn inwards for internal replacements.

Human Resources departments and team members should wear two hats: one that services that business in a strategic mannerand another that serves as an advocate and champion for employees.

Technology also plays a significant role in driving businessperformance. HR professionals are able, through software applications, to assess employee performance, as well as encourage employee feedback on processes or products.  HR professionals can then quickly convert that data into results, such as return on employee investment or improvements in infrastructure. When an HR representative is able to delve through this information without trouble, their productivity increases, and when an HR department functions at a high level, so does the rest of the company.

For example, when HR professionals become more productive, analytics and reports are created in greater depth, providing heightened value to those that use such information. VPs of sales, managers, or supervisors can then implement talent management strategies such as motivational compensation plans using the information delivered by HR. As a result, employee engagement will rise, leading to higher revenues and better business overall.

Utilizing Talent Analytics
Highly efficient human resources departments are more likely to pay attention to, and use, analytics and metrics.  The implementation of HR software solutions, which improve a business’ understanding of such data by allowing for greater efficiency, can help an organization achieve their analytics-based goals, which include:

  • Identifying talent and effectively managing employees.
  • Developing competitive business strategies.
  • Making company-wide decisions on human capital management.
  • Weighing costs and benefits of new business tactics.

An HR department’s job is one that is required to juggle perspectives and balance constantly changing priorities. It can be a daunting task. But when businesses fully understand the farther-reaching impact of an effective HR strategy and trust their HR professionals with adequate resources, HR departments become an asset for employees as well as the board room.

Get Informed Before You Switch Payroll Processing

17 May

For businesses in today’s economy, there are more payroll processing options than ever before, and deciding what method will work best for your company can be daunting. If you’re thinking about switching how your payroll is processed or are curious about what is currently available, taking action on the following steps is a good place to start.

Making the First Step
If you are a seasoned business and are considering a change to your payroll processing system, before you make any decisions or put a plan in motion, you must first begin the evaluation process. At this stage in the game, the more questions you ask, the better. What compensation structure works best for your employees? Monthly? Bimonthly? How do you track employee hours? What about overtime? Paid time off? Health plans? Income taxes? Payroll taxes?

You’ll want to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your current workforce and identify the best person or team most capable of facilitating the switch. If you cannot identify a suitable person, consider hiring an experienced payroll processing professional as an independent contractor to help you make the transition. Payroll administration requires a high commitment to detail and accuracy and regardless of which route you take; any efforts must be comprehensive and dedicated.

It’s also in the best interest of the company to assess the timing of your payroll change, paying close attention to current economic conditions and growth trajectory of the firm. For example, a recent and robust expansion in business may make it a good time to reconsider your payroll processing—especially if there are plans to boost hiring significantly to maintain your growth.

What may have worked for you with just 50 employees begins to be strained by the demands of 200+ employees. In addition to this consideration, many common mistakes and errors in payroll processing become more visible and potentially dangerous to operations when you increase the number of employees.

Functionality a Determining Factor
Upon sketching a rough outline of what business factors will influence what payroll processing options to pursue, it’s then time to transition to the subject of functionality. After all, payroll processing doesn’t just need to work for the company, it needs to work—period.

Many companies that choose payroll processing software often do so without accounting for the range of capabilities and features a solution must possess in order to improve the business and save it time and money. Before you approach a vendor, determine what functions you’ll need or desire to be included in the processing software.

Again, asking yourself questions on what is needed from a solution is the best path to reaching an optimal selection: How frequent are tax updates sent through? What security checks are in place? Can we integrate existing data into the new platform? What payment options exist? How does it prevent fraud?

Besides ensuring a solution effectively addresses and takes care of standard compliance issues, it’s good practice to investigate what other added value such a service can provide. For example, many payroll processing software vendors offer deduction and earning codes, shortcuts that enable automatic and accurate deductions from employee paychecks regarding health insurance or child care. If your company’s pay structure is more complex, you’ll want to pursue vendors that can allow you to customize your own codes. Other features to look for include direct deposit, employee garnishments, and piecework pay codes that assign and track employee pay based on work completed.

It’s also worth examining the basic features of payroll processing, like electronic tax filing, which is paramount in any payroll software. This feature allows you to fill out and submit tax forms electronically and eliminates the need for printing out forms, organizing them, and mailing them out to the appropriate office—which can result in huge time savings!

It’s also crucial that employees have sufficient access and interaction with the system. Opting for a solution that can seamlessly allow for employees to view documents and pay stubs is important both to HR compliance and employee engagement.

Making a Choice and Implementing the System
After pegging down what payroll processing solution your business needs and what features and accommodations it should have, it’s time to research the market. Spend time closely evaluating all vendors, and consider their reputations and relationships with past clients. Pay close attention to how vendors service clients, price their solutions, and ensure their networks are secure.

Finally, once all has been said and done and a solution has been decided upon for implementation, you’ll need to ready your operations for the change. The most important function when readying the business is making sure you have the hardware needed for installation. It may also behoove the organization to solicit the services of an implementation team. But that’s only the half of it. Once in place, businesses must still conduct routine check-ups into how the solution has performed and what benefits it has provided or how it has streamlined operations.

After determining who can help facilitate the change, when the ideal time is to switch, and what functions your business needs out of payroll processing software. Evaluate which vendors most closely align with your values, budget, and business needs. Then it’s easy. Make the switch and reap the rewards!

Need more information about changing payroll processing? Visit our library of Human Resources Best Practices and Tools to download white papers like “The 15 Factors to Consider When Changing How You Process Payroll” or “Stay In Control: The Benefits of In-House Payroll Software.”

The Cost of Sick Leave Will Make You Ill

1 Jun

The Cost of Sick Leave Will Make You IllI’m back with our regular feature about the Return on Employee Investment (ROEI).  Throughout the series I’ll speak directly to what ROEI is, how organizations can maximize it and how they can calculate it.

Sick leave is a necessary benefit for all employees. If employers didn’t offer sick leave, they would accelerate health problems and the spread of illness, thereby lowering productivity and morale. However, missed work time and increased insurance costs also hurt companies.

According to CCH Incorporated, a company that produces electronic and print products for the tax, legal, securities, insurance, human resources, health care, and small business markets, unscheduled absenteeism can cost up to an average of $602 per employee, per year.

This cost does not include indirect costs such as overtime pay the employees who fill in, pay for temporary workers, missed deadlines, lost sales, sinking morale and lower productivity.

How to Reduce Sick Leave:

Whether above average use of sick leave is health-related or due to a pattern of abuse, a company can actively reduce absenteeism through intelligent investments. Employee wellness programs can promote better health and management of chronic conditions. And an HRMS can help fight abseenteeism by making information about absences available to managers, so it’s easier to identify possible patterns of abuse and address them with employees.

Absenteeism is also an area where improvements in employee engagement can reduce company expenses. A study from Health and Safety Executive showed that 30% of sick leave is partly the result of stress-related anxiety and depression. Motivated and engaged employees are eight times less likely to suffer from stress and depression.

Fighting Chronic Absenteeism Using an HRMS

25 May

Fighting Chronic Absenteeism - Are People Really Sick? Here is another installment of our series centered on the Return on Employee Investment (ROEI).  Throughout the series I’ll speak directly to what ROEI is, how organizations can maximize it and how they can calculate it. 

To fight against a pattern of sick leave abuse, you’ll need the right information, supplied to both managers and employees. To start off, employers need to have clear absence policy that readily accessible to all employees, along with the employee handbook. Going through absence rules and processes should be part of the on-boarding process.

Technology can be very helpful in this area:

  •  Business process automation tools can dramatically increase the quality of the on-boarding process for all new employees. These tools ensure employees and managers follow time-off procedures, consistent with corporate policies.
  • Employee self-service portals or the company intranet are good places to store the company handbook.

In order to confidently talk with or discipline employees who have attendance problems, it is not enough to have a clearly written policy. Managers also need information that proves possible abuse or above normal patterns of sick leave. Sick leave statistics are needed at the individual employee level and the departmental or company level. Here again, an HRMS solution can identify patterns of abuse and also help report absenteeism results to employees and their managers: 

  • An HRMS system including time-off management and manager self-service functionality keeps management informed. Employees can also see their accurate and up-to-date allowance for sick days.
  • The usage of data-monitoring software can automatically generate alerts to managers that signal the breach of any given pre-defined threshold. That way a manager will be notified if and when their attention is required.
  • Dashboards and graphical representation can show management in one glance how well the company, department or team is doing in terms of sick leave.

 Have you used an HRMS to help defended against employees who took advantage of your sick leave policy?  If so, tell us how it worked out?

Invest In Your Employees and Better Your Business

18 May

Minimize Your Turnover Rate With These TipsI’m back with our regular feature about the Return on Employee Investment (ROEI).  Throughout the series I’ll speak directly to what ROEI is, how organizations can maximize it and how they can calculate it. 

While some turn-over is unavoidable and to some extent even desirable, turnover among your top performers is largely avoidable. And it is certainly worth the investment. People don’t necessarily tell the whole truth in exit interviews about why they are leaving. Managers should, of course, know in advance who is leaving and why.

A high turnover rate is likely due to a combination of reasons. Thus, increasing employee retention also requires a combination of measures. An employee will be motivated to stay at a company when they feel comfortable, well respected, fairly compensated, and (dependent on position and character) see possibilities for growth and personal development. Here are some of the areas an employer can invest in to lower the employee turnover rate:


It is clear that no manager can make informed decisions without proper information. HR or employee analytics can help management y decide where to invest, identify the top performers, determine what employees need to best perform and what they value. Analytics also give provide a consistent way to monitor the results of any measure taken, HR analytics really are the ace up your sleeve.

Modern human resource management systems contain a wealth of information that can give managers and executives the insight needed to make the best possible decisions about the workforce.


A lack of (or poor) communication, both top-down and between teams or peers, causes frustration and misdirected energy. For HR departments, communcation is key and company communication can be greatly enhanced by publishing the company’s values, vision and mission. Provide easy access to the company handbook. Make use of the technology for employee self-service portals and performance appraisal systems and encourage employees to use these available resources. 

Work environment

BusinessWeek cites that a “San Francisco design firm Gensler found that of more than 2,000 workers around the U.S., two-thirds believe they are more efficient when they work closely with their colleagues. But 30% said that their workplace doesn’t promote spontaneous interaction and collaboration—a sentiment that’s leading many companies to rethink the office environment.”

Widespread usage of social media and web 2.0 technologies has proven that these spontaneous interactions and collaboration are no longer limited by physical borders. Employee collaboration and business social networking have already demonstrated value in terms of improved employee performance, creativity, communication and informal learning.

Employee Recognition

Most companies reward employees and recognize a job well done with a combination of compensation and benefits. But there are many more tools in the employee reward arsenal. To compete in the global workforce environment, an effective employee recognition program is a necessity.

Successful recognition programs motivate workers in ways that increase their level of engagement. According to the Human Capital Institute (HCI), “best practices” for applying recognition programs include:

  • Creating a culture of recognition in the workplace that includes both formal and informal methods of recognition.
  • Making sure that employees get rewarded in a way that is valuable to them by providing a wide variety of recognition rewards. Emphasizing higher quality performance, rather than just increased amount of effort.
  • Recognizing employees frequently to maintain consistent engagement.
  • Ensuring that rewards are linked solidly to business objectives and/or desired business cultural values.


Effective training and development programs are excellent instruments to reduce employee turn-over. When employees feel like their careers can develop no further at an organization, it is often time to leave. Good training programs can help your employees learn the skills needed for new projects and challenges, or even a higher position within the company.

Compensation and Benefits

Without an adequate and competitive package of compensation and benefits, it is difficult for any company to hire or retain top talent. The challenge for small-business owners is figuring out how much their competitors pay, and what package of benefits deliver the best retention results. If the main goal is to motivate talent to stay with the company, in other words to create ‘stickiness’, it is important to choose a balanced package of benefits from many available programs:

  • Work/Life balance: Holidays, paid time off, flexible work arrangements
  • Financial security: Retirement plans, pensions, disability insurance, life insurance
  • Health and medical insurances: health insurance, dental, vision flexible spending or health savings accounts, gym memberships
  • Career development/Personal growth: Tuition reimbursement, onsite lectures, computer based training subscriptions
  • Other: Discounted auto, home, or pet insurance, savings clubs for shopping, employee loan programs to purchase computers.

What do you think?  Does that list do a good job summarizing it?  Has your company offered any other benefits to help increase employee retention?

HR Analytics, The Ace Up Your Sleeve

12 May

Decision Support Software Turns HR Analytics Into Useful InformationComputers can do wonderful things. They bring nearly the entire world to our fingertips and they can certainly help people in business.  Human resources management can benefit from the advancements in technology by leveraging their data, this is called HR analytics.

HR analytics give professionals the ability to make strategic contributions by basing their actions on discernible fact rather than just an idea or a feeling, this is true decision support. These programs help HR staff members understand current workforce trends, plan for future needs, benchmark workforce standards and measure payroll, administration, benefits and time management.

Analytics are also nice because they do a lot of the work for you. Data can be digitized and analyzed in mere seconds.

“By going beyond simple HR statistics to include robust corporate information such as financial indicators and survey data, managers can gain deeper insight into how the organization is doing as a whole,” writes Success Factors.

For decades, HR departments largely shunned analytics. But today, these systems are becoming synonymous with the department and decision support software is helping HR become a strategic partner.

Breaking Up Will Cost You

11 May

Replacing a Departing Employee Impacts ROEII’m back again with our series centered on the Return on Employee Investment (ROEI).  Throughout the series I’ll speak directly to what ROEI is, how organizations can maximize it and how they can calculate it. 

The investment in an employee starts even before the actual hiring of the employee and the recruitment and on-boarding costs involved go way beyond ‘just’ posting a job opening or hiring a recruitment agency. Costs associated with replacing a departing employee include:

  • Recruiting
  • Interviewing
  • Hiring
  • Orientation
  • Training
  • Compensation and benefits while training
  • Lost productivity
  • Administrative costs

Employee turnover is a very large and often underestimated cost for employers. This cost does not simply represent wages and materials, but also includes recruitment costs, loss of productivity, impacts on team morale and other more subtle expenses. 

In 2006, Ross Blake of Retention Associates summarized several studies that estimated the cost of replacing an employee:

  • The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) estimates that it costs $3,500 to replace a $8.00 per hour employee. SHRM was the lowest of 17 nationally respected companies who calculated the cost.
  • Other sources provide these estimates: It costs you between 30% and 50% of the annual salary of entry-level employees, 150% of middle-level employees and up to 400% for specialized, high level employees!

These numbers represent averages. The replacement of the highest performing employees could cost significantly more, for the loss of productivity is much greater.

What do you think your company’s employee turnover cost is?

5 Ways Decision Support Software Helps HR

10 May

Decision support software can be human resources management’s best friend. The technology will never replace the function of HR, as some people have feared, but it can aid human resources in their day-to-day business.

When HR professionals are are able to make strategic decisions based of data and not just anecdotal or subjective information, the entire company wins.

Here are five ways decision support software can help HR:

1. Productivity. This is a big one in today’s economic climate. As businesses try to do more with less, every second of lost productivity is detrimental.

2. Better information, faster. The software’s goal is to support decisions, and what better way can this be accomplished than by streamlining data? Before HR support software, staff members had to manually sort through piles of information that could be located in any number of places. Instead of mining for data, software brings just what HR needs right to the surface in an instant.

3. Hiring. Decision support software greatly aids HR professionals when making employee management choices. Is the company in a position to hire? Do we need to cut back positions? Support software has data to help answer these questions.

4. Salary management. Software can help determine salary action by analyzing turnover, training, compensation, location and other factors. Deciding on an appropriate salary for an employee is now an exact science.

5. Streamlining employee benefits. Thanks to HR software, all of this information is centralized, making administering benefits a breeze.

Are you currently using HR decision support software? How does it help you?

Get Engaged Already – You Will Save Tons of Money!

4 May

ROEI In Action - Engaged Employees Benefit Your Organization

Here is another installment of our series centered on the Return on Employee Investment (ROEI).  Throughout the series I’ll speak directly to what ROEI is, how organizations can maximize it and how they can calculate it.

Employee engagement is the measurement of how dedicated an employee is toward the organization he/she works for and that organization’s values. Organizations that can establish trust between the workforce and management and between co-workers create an engaged workforce and enjoy the benefits that go along with it.

For organizations, the difference between engaged and disengaged workers can equate to success or failure. According to Alan Schweyer in The Economics of Engagement, disengaged employees are estimated to cost the U.S. economy as much as $350 billion per year in lost productivity, accidents, theft and turnover.

A major opportunity for corporate performance improvement and employee retention lies in engaging the workforce to drive better customer engagement, better revenue and higher profits. Schweyer points out that:

Most leaders and organizations know the difference between a fully engaged worker and one that is marginally engaged or disengaged. The former brim with enthusiasm, they contribute ideas, are optimistic about the company and its future, are seldom absent from work, they typically stay with the organization longer and are among the organization’s most valuable ambassadors.”

Investing in employee engagement increases workforce retention and thus decreases employee turnover costs. But the advantages of engaged employees goes for beyond the reduction of the turnover rate. Increasing employee engagement correlates directly with a positive impact on key business metrics.

According to Schweyer, engaged employees:

  • work more effectively, instead of just working more
  • find ways to improve
  • share information with colleagues
  • develop creative solutions
  • provide suggestions
  • speak up for the organization
  • try harder to meet customers’ needs, leading to repeat business

Numerous studies show a direct correlation between employee engagement and business results:

  • A 2008 BlessingWhite study demonstrated a correlation between engagement and retention– 85% of engaged employees planned to remain with their employer for ten or more months.
  • Towers Perrin discovered that high-engagement firms grow their earnings-per-share (EPS) at a faster rate (28%) while low-engagement firms experienced an average EPS growth rate decline of 11.2%.
  • The Center for Human Resource Strategy at Rutgers University found that highly engaged business units were on average 3.4 times more effective financially than units who were less engaged. This paper also found that when disengaged, workers can cost the company in lost productivity and negatively affect customer relationships.
  • A report by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) estimates that by strengthening engagement, MolsonCoors saved more than $1.7 million in one year – citing one example where the average cost of a “safety incident” for an engaged employee was $63, compared with the average of $392 for a disengaged employee.
  • Hewitt Associates found that highly engaged firms had a total shareholder return that was 19% higher than average in 2009. In low-engagement organizations, total shareholder return was actually 44% below average.

ROEI is grounded in fact – we aren’t making this stuff up.  How much do you think disengaged employees are costing your organization?

Is Your HR Toolbox an Investment?

20 Apr

Are You Investing In Employees?I’m back with our regular feature about the Return on Employee Investment (ROEI).  Throughout the series I’ll speak directly to what ROEI is, how organizations can maximize it and how they can calculate it.

Each and every employee costs money. Organizations pay their employees’ wages and benefits. There is also infrastructure cost, including office space, tools and equipment, administration and other employee-related costs. Those are necessary costs, but are not always investments. An investment is a cost that creates future value and pays out over time. In other words, an investment in the workforce should help employees achieve their full potential, improve their motivation and strengthen engagement.

When a carpenter needs a saw, he has the option to purchase the cheapest one. Or he can achieve better results and get more years of use out of the saw if he invests in a more expensive, professional grade tool.

Similarly, the HR professional has his or her own ‘toolbox’ where it comes to optimizing the company’s workforce. Strategic investments in the organization and its employees can make a huge contribution to the bottom line. The right investments can both prevent unnecessary expenses, such as high employee turn-over, and boost the productivity and of workforce by better engaging the employees.

You know the saying, when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. 

Are the tools you’ve invested in fit for the job at hand?