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Annie Hayes



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HR shackled by admin


Administration is preventing HR from taking a more strategic path; these are the findings from research conducted by HR and payroll software provider Snowdrop Systems.

Managing administrative tasks takes up to 60% of the week (22 hours) according to the 110 HR respondents.

This figure is reduced by more than half just 10 hours for HR who can share the load with line managers and staff, by giving them online access to HR records but despite this only 13% of HR professionals do get support.

Just under half (43%) spend two hours a week coordinating training and setting up network and email privileges for new recruits while almost a third spend up to five hours a day each week running reports, with one in 10 taking almost a whole day (six hours) to complete the task.

Checking employee information takes up two hours a week for 40% of respondents.

The top five administrative tasks are:

1. Setting up and coordinating induction training
2. Checking data is accurate
3. Running reports
4. Recording progress on training and development
5. Dealing with departing employees admin (including returning company property, dealing with benefits, closing email and network accounts, recouping training costs and informing payroll.)

Other time-consuming tasks involve requests for and booking of holiday time, chasing and updating absence records around sick days, chasing material on appraisals and employee development, checking for expired qualifications and alerting line managers about probation periods.

Commenting on the research, Michael Richards, chief executive of Snowdrop Systems said:

“It’s no surprise that administrative tasks take a large chunk of time out of an HR professional’s day. What’s disappointing is that these are tasks which line managers and employees could easily do themselves. By harnessing HR technology more responsibility can be devolved to the employee. Creating online access to certain information, like holiday time or appraisals details, means employees can find the answers for themselves and let HR get on with their other duties.”

4 Responses

  1. Strategic is only part of the function
    How can HR be shackled by admin, when this is just one part of the HR function?

    In my experience those who complain about not being treated as strategic are those who can’t get their administrative processes organised – in any function.

    Most people in a Finance department are not providing strategic services, but few would deny that Finance is a strategic function. And the same applies to almost all other core functions in an organisation (e.g. Marketing).

    Any strategic function has to demonstrate its value in that capacity – which is dependent on the ability/mind-set of KEY people in the function (not all or even most of them) and the quality of information to which they have access.

    It is this latter point which HR seems keen to ignore, by hoping to rely on ‘outsourcing’ data capture to employees/managers. Have you ever found a Finance department that allows its core data (invoices, payments, etc) to be recorded by anyone outside the department?

    The real issue is whether an HR department understands:
    – the objectives of the function (operational and strategic)
    – the processes needed to support achieving those objectives
    – the relevance of data that varies from the expected

    If (and only if) those issues are addressed, can the department start to focus on capturing reliable data – in a cost-effective manner.

    There is no universal ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ set of methods for all organisations, because they will depend on the objectives (and culture) of each one.

    It may be that making employees responsible for maintaining their Banking details can be justified – since if they fail to do so, the only person to suffer is the employee! But, for any data that may have a strategic impact, it is unlikely that the risk (of leaving data input up to employees/managers) is warranted.

    This is the catch-22. If you don’t understand your strategic objectives, then you can’t make a decision on the safe/cost-effective method of capturing data – and all your decisions will be based on reducing your administrative burden by handing it to other (unwilling) people, without making your department any more strategic. Conversely, if you are comfortable with the strategic role of your department, then you can fairly easily choose the right methods to support your objectives.

    Either way, technology will not make you strategic – that is in your own hands.

  2. I’m afraid I have to agree
    I totally agree with Denis. The flip side of the original assertion is that actually alot of operations staff (or shall we use the word Administration to keep within the statement)are “shackled” by HR resulting in the relationship between HR and the rest of the organisation becoming grossly inefficient.

  3. Reducing the admin burden on HR…
    If this was effected through many organisations, it might be revealed that many HR “professionals” are in fact incapable of making the transition to more strategic roles..
    Which is probably why many HR people will complain about the admin, but secretly want to keep it..
    Anyone else suspect this?

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Annie Hayes


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