Top 7 HR Productivity Killers and What to Do About Them

January 19, 2015

In the frenetic world of human resources, where time is short and the list of to-dos isn’t, you’re either efficient or you fail.

At BambooHR, we’re on a mission to make HR more efficient so that you have more time to do your most meaningful work. In order to understand the biggest challenges, we went to the source to discover where HR spends its time (HR Software Survey Data). Here are the top seven things more than 1,000 HR professionals said were consuming their time and some suggestions to help HR spend less time doing them:

1. Employee management:

HR says the number one thing taking up time is employee management -- things like answering employee questions, resolving workplace issues between co-workers or between employees and managers, discipline and recognition.

You expect this to be a part of your job in HR, but didn’t realize just how much time it would take.

What can you do about it?

Empower employees with the right tools to solve problems or get answers themselves—without asking you. Certain software tools give employees access to information such as their time-off balance and benefit information or reminds them about a required training. In some cases, software allows the employee to make changes to their personal data as permitted—such as their address or phone number.

Simply put, let employees manage themselves by giving them the ability administer their own data and answer their own questions. Of course, they’ll still come to you, but the ability to manage themselves will give you a lot of time back—more than you think. The right HR tools will free up employee time as well.

With the time you save, focus on culture. Create a culture of independent employees who are empowered and self-sufficient.

2. Managing time cards:

If you’re doing this on paper, stop. Just. Please. Stop. Simple tools like Nimble Schedule, Swipeclock and many others provide affordable ways to manage your employees’ time at work much more efficiently. These tools do employee scheduling, collect and calculate time worked for payroll as well as automate other time and attendance functions. You’ll be more accurate in your payroll as well as your records. You will no longer be left searching through your email, spreadsheets or filing cabinets to see how long each employee worked over the course of a year.

Once again, your time is too valuable to be tracking how much time each employee is spending at work; instead, focus on making employees’ time more productive. And again, it doesn’t just save you time, it saves everyone time—it’s a pattern.

3. Updating employee information:

Tracking hundreds of changing data points for hundreds of people is tedious and a huge pain—especially in spreadsheets. HR must know every time employees move, change marital status or have any other little change to their personal record. Missing a simple update on something like a completed training can be the difference between compliance and non-compliance—and potentially a hefty fee.

Who knows about these little changes better than the employees themselves? Stop wasting your time figuring out who has moved, gotten married or has a new cell phone number and let employees update their own information. Many Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) allow employees to access and update their own personal information. Don’t worry, you can control which changes are accepted.
Focus on training employees to be in charge of their own data. Consider the workflow of a simple change: You move, you email HR to update your address, HR changes that address in five different spreadsheets, then HR emails you back to tell you it’s done. Or, you move, you log in to your system and update it, and it’s automatically updated everywhere it matters. And it’s done in less time than it would take to email HR. Easy peasy.

4. Managing benefits:

Mention benefits to HR pros and their stomach churns. Mention the Affordable Care Act and they really will be sick. Open enrollment, compliance, health, vision, dental, medical, 401k, signatures, timelines, changing laws—it’s a full-time job just dealing with benefits alone. It’s difficult for employees as well.

Find tools to share the load and simplify the processes as much as possible. From e-signature tools to benefit administration platforms, human resources software exists to make managing benefits much easier. Time to get out of paper and into easy online processes that employees will actually enjoy. Online tools these days work together for you as well—where one system may be your core system of record, and another your benefits portal—integrating to remove duplicate entry and decrease errors.

Wouldn’t it be nice to spend your energy and time on more important things (like selecting the best benefit options for your company) rather than manually tracking every benefit for every employee? Find the software solution that best fits your need, and begin to enjoy the relief.

5. Compliance:

HIPPA, I-9, FMLA, ADA & FEHA, ACA, and of course the Mental Health Parity Act, The Veterans Re-employment Law, and all the rest. You have those nailed, right? If we in HR require sleep like a normal human being, we can’t stay on top of this and everything else by ourselves. We just need to stay as up-to-date as possible. We attend the webinars, read the research, keep up on the law and get help where we can.

Technology will help. Reporting plays a huge role in compliance, so make sure you have the system to track the required data the right way. You can also set up automatic email reminders and streamline data collection processes. This challenge is not going to end, but setting up the right processes will definitely make life easier when that audit comes.

By focusing on the data collection and maintenance processes related to compliance, you’ll quickly find ways to share the burden of collection with managers and employees. This will free up your time to look at the needs ahead, rather than scramble to cover what you missed.

6. Event planning:

Does it make sense to spend your time here? Have you ever had to negotiate a room rate, figure out the power cost or what food to serve? Is that going to put you at a strategic seat at the table? Didn’t think so. I think delegation is often HR’s biggest weakness because we think nobody can do it like we can. But is it worth it?
Shouldn’t you be focusing more on why you’re having the event? How can you reinforce cultural values? How can you motivate employees? What opportunity exists to share your mission, vision and goals?

Delegate the details. You have more important things to do. If you were asked what is the most valuable use of your time, your answer shouldn’t include making sure the sound system works. And with the time you save, you can impact the culture even on a shoestring budget.

7. Tracking PTO:

It’s amazing how many companies are still taking time off requests via email, sticky notes or even verbally. I spoke with a credit union recently whose employees would write down the request, give it to the branch manager, who would then put it in a report and send it to the corporate office. The corporate office would then check the calendar, mark up the report and send it back. Finally, the employee would find out if it was approved. It shouldn’t be that much work.

Online tools exist to streamline this process. Employees can check time off availability on their mobile phone, request time off and have their manager approve or deny it all within a simple app. The data is captured in the HR software and copied over to payroll. Tracking and reporting is easy. Nobody has to remember who took which day off and when because it’s all done for you and easy to see.

Once again, an HRIS is a great solution for trimming down the time you spend on time-off tracking and requests. Having a hub for requesting, approving and recording time off can be so efficient that managing PTO will be a breeze. With the time saved through increased productivity and organization, you can focus on making sure your employees are taking that vacation time (which you already know will increase their productivity).

HR should always be asking two key questions: First, what is the most important thing I should be working on? And second, what are the next steps? Because each HR professional faces a variety of highly important tasks every day, it’s difficult to prioritize. But life gets better as you get better at prioritizing. Embrace the accuracy, efficiency and relief that comes through the use of great software. This will make you better, smarter and deserving of a spot at the table. And best of all, it will make your company better as well.

* image by Stéfan

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