Questions to Ask When Designing a High-Impact HR Operation

Posted in: Employee Benefits

How does human resources (HR) management operate at your company? Are your efforts integrated across your organization, or do you function more or less in silos? At its best, an effective, high-impact HR operation supports the long-term success of your business. But for many HR departments, that’s a tall order due to a disjointed structure and lack of necessary processes.

How can you figure out where your HR operation stands and set the stage for improvements? Below, I walk you through four questions to ask as you evaluate your HR program and share strategies to revamp your operation for success.

1. Are all of our HR activities aligned with our business goals?

There should never be an “HR-only” activity. Rather, all human resources activities should be answerable to your overall business strategy. If your company’s HR strategy is clearly defined, you should be able to map all initiatives to your corporate goals and Key Performance Indicators. Some standard human capital management solutions will make sense for some companies and not for others. Performance management and benchmarking, for instance, often work well at tech companies, where creativity and problem-solving are important to each employee’s success. However, the same measure might not make as much sense at a company with a large number of lower-skilled jobs.

2. Do we have flexible HR design?

Your HR operation should be able, flexible and scalable to adapt structurally and strategically to the changing needs of the business. Can you, for instance, ramp up recruiting during periods of high growth and draw it back down again when you’re not hiring as much? A well-defined recruiting process can help deliver a strong base of candidates when you need them. Compensation structure might require flexibility, too. Consider, for example, that a startup typically has an informal compensation structure, but as a company grows, it needs a structured pay system that sets limits and incorporates market data.

3. Are all of our HR functions integrated?

If your HR operation is not handled by a single department, regular communication among the different offices involved is essential to an effective HR program. It’s common for companies to have HR responsibilities splintered across different people, with some parts of HR being handled by finance, others covered by office managers, and still others falling to the executive team. The result of this can be duplication of tasks and under-sourcing of important HR functions.

4. Do you have the necessary HR processes and documents in place to minimize your legal exposure and ensure your regulatory compliance?

Having critical HR processes and documents in place are the foundation of high-impact HR administration. You can face serious legal implications if you have poor HR procedures or lack important up-to-date HR documents. Some of the most common and expensive mistakes many companies make include misclassification of employees, failure to secure Workers’ Compensation coverage, and discrimination/harassment/retaliation, which can result in potential fines, penalties, and lawsuits.

How an HR consulting firm can help
A high-impact HR operation will address the issues listed above, but not all human capital consulting firms  have the resources or expertise to deploy comprehensive human capital management solutions. Some may choose to outsource certain HR activities or to have the entire HR function handled by a third-party vendor. A highly-qualified HR consulting firm, who acts as your trusted advisor, can serve as an extension of your internal HR department by assisting you with every aspect of workforce management and streamlining your HR activities. Outsourcing these efforts can ease your HR professionals’ administrative burden and allow them to focus on more strategic initiatives. Here are some areas in which a skilled HR advisor can help:

Workforce management guidance

A dedicated, experienced team of professionals can help with the essentials of HR. These include:

  • Recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and training new employees
  • Employee development, promotions, performance management, and compensation and benefits program design
  • Corrective actions, exit interview strategy and execution, separation, and termination

Up-to-date forms & documents/administrative support

The lack of necessary HR processes and documents can expose your organization to costly law suits and fines. Outsourced support in this area could involve the creation and maintenance of an online database of commonly used documents and resources, such as:

  • Legal templates of offer letters, non-compete agreements, and severance agreements
  • Compensation benchmark data
  • Total compensation statements
  • Templates, forms, and checklists
  • COBRA/HIPAA content and compliance documents

Interested in learning more how our HR experts can make life a little easier for your organization?

HR expertise and legal support

Legal support can be provided in the form of compliance updates, as well as monthly access to employment attorneys and HR consultants for more sensitive or complex issues.

The two areas where I often see companies struggle with human resources are: streamlining administration of the employee lifecycle and implementing programs strategically aligned with business objectives. For many companies, outsourcing certain tasks can go a long way toward reducing time and cost, which ultimately improves profitability.

Have questions about how you could streamline and enhance your human resources department? Please feel free to contact me at