Why you need to eliminate the HR 'black hole of busyness' ...

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By: Dana Manaciagli

It's Thursday afternoon and you just finished interviewing three great job candidates for a position you're anxious to fill. Time to get Human Resources on the phone to discuss making an offer to one candidate in particular. You hope to pull the offer together by tomorrow morning, because you got the distinct impression that your top pick had another offer on the table.

Why isn't your HR person answering the phone?

Or let's say you're seeing the situation from the vantage point of a star candidate. You just finished what you believe was a great interview with the owner of a company you would love to join, but you already have another job offer. You've stalled, but must give an answer by the end of the week. Your dream company's HR rep told you to contact her about anything, so you drop her an email, but you have not heard back.

Why aren't they responding?

If your company is like many small or mid-sized companies, there's a clear explanation when your HR professionals may not be as responsive as you need them to be. Quite simply, they are overwhelmed. This isn't a criticism of their talent, capabilities, or commitment. It is a testament to their capacity. Their plates are not just full. They are overflowing.

Never-ending job duties

A typical HR professional-to-employee ratio is 1:100, so for the sake of this example, assume that one HR person is entirely responsible for all of the employment needs of 100 workers. Consider what tasks this job would include:

  • Recruiting, hiring, onboarding and training every new employee.
  • Tracking time and attendance for those 100 employees, overseeing vacation and sick days, managing benefits and administering payroll.
  • Implementing a performance review process, researching applicable industry compensation rates to be sure employees are being paid at comparable market rates, and overseeing their professional development so they not only feel fulfilled, but also see their careers advancing accordingly
  • Managing employee safety and risk management programs, and, if those are breached, managing workers' compensation claims
  • Researching and implementing proven HR practices and the most advanced HR systems to ensure efficiency and top productivity
  • Managing inter-office disputes, investigating claims of discrimination or harassment, addressing disciplinary issues, and, when necessary, accepting resignations and handling terminations
  • Keeping meticulous records and routinely auditing employment-related activities to comply with applicable employment laws
  • And, if time permits, carving out time to work on proactive hiring strategies, strengthening company culture, enhancing workforce productivity and building a sound succession plan

Is this a realistic description? Depending on how an in-house HR department is structured, various tasks may be shared among several HR generalists and specialists. Some companies choose to outsource administrative tasks like benefits, payroll, and workers' comp and unemployment claims.

For growing companies, though, this example is closer to reality than you might think. Many HR professionals are stretched too thin to respond effectively to their company's day-to-day demands. Unfortunately, everybody suffers: employees, managers, job candidates and more.

Closing the black hole

Consider partnering with a trusted outsourcing organization for more than just the most mundane HR tasks. A reputable professional employer organization (PEO) can offer certified HR experts, proven processes, and advanced technologies to support companies with recruiting initiatives, performance review processes, and specialized training programs. The result: increased HR productivity, reduced risk, and possibly reduced cost.

"When organizations partner with a PEO, not only are their HR departments relieved of many of the tedious administrative burdens associated with their day-to-day roles," says John W. Allen, president and COO at a leading nationwide PEO firm, "but HR representatives are allotted more time and greater opportunities to focus on things that are impactful to their organizations, such as better employee training and management to help develop and grow their businesses."

To hiring managers and candidates, your HR professionals aren't unproductive, ineffective or intentionally unresponsive. They're just busy.

From understanding the burdens and challenges of today's human resources professionals comes patience, empathy, and understanding. And it means you will work more effectively with your HR team.