When it comes to organizational efficiency, there’s a lot of talk about running lean. And while re-evaluating your processes is always a good idea, continually cutting staff in the name of increasing individual productivity can definitely backfire. Take Human Resources, for instance. In an effort to save money and streamline procedures, some companies have decided HR is a secondary function that can easily be regionalized, downsized, and/or absorbed by others within the company. But is that really the case?
You don’t call an electrician when your sink is clogged. If your goal is to have a business that runs at peak performance, why on earth would you let anyone but trained experts perform the critical, wide-ranging and often highly sensitive functions executed by HR personnel?
HR departments typically handle hiring, firing, compensation, payroll and employee benefits. They may also deal with employee conflicts and complaints, including those involving claims of harassment and discrimination. These can be tricky topics that require a specific set of skills and knowledge. Often there are legal implications associated with these issues as well. Do you really want to pass these important tasks on to random individuals, departments or third party organizations?
If you’re thinking about making cuts in this oh-so-important part of your company, consider the following:
Specialization breeds success
You don’t get really good at something by doing a little bit of everything. Excellence is produced when natural talent is combined with years of training, experience, and practice. This is true in everything: sports, music, art, business and yes— even HR. It takes time to hone the communication, negotiation and general people skills needed to build and maintain a great staff, as well as the hefty amounts of confidence, diplomacy and fortitude needed to deal with tough issues like employee conflicts, layoffs and terminations.
Time is money
In addition to letting your Human Resources team specialize in these complex functions, having a designated HR person or department frees up the rest of your staff to do what they do best. Do you really want your Sales Manager hiring the new administrative assistant or your CEO answering detailed questions about your employee benefits package? Sure, maybe your Accounting Department is perfectly capable of taking on payroll functionality, but turning over critical HR roles like recruiting and hiring to your top number crunchers isn’t exactly playing to their natural strengths.
Money is also money
The ramifications of handing key HR functions over to those less familiar with the regulations surrounding them can be hugely expensive. Fines for noncompliance. Accusations of discrimination. Wrongful termination lawsuits. In other words, you may start out pinching pennies but end up hemorrhaging hundreds… of thousands. Can you really afford to cut this crucial part of your organization?
Knowledge is power
Your HR team has their fingers on the pulse of your company. They recruit, hire, and onboard staff. They know who your over-achievers (and under-achievers!) are. They see your processes in action day in and day out. They know what works and what doesn’t, and they probably have some great insights into how things could work even better. Instead of putting these folks on the chopping block, make this team your secret weapon. Bring them into the boardroom, ask them what they think, and listen to what they say. They just might be the ones who can take your business from fantastic to phenomenal.
Photo by August Li