6 Steps Your HR Team Can Take to Leave the Dark Ages

Automating payroll and outsourcing benefits frees HR staff to focus on recruiting and retaining talented employees.

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By John Boitnott

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The workplace continues to change as workers and clients use technology to communicate and manage operations. However, some HR departments still cling to outdated processes, arguing that it's the way they've always done things. By resisting moving forward, these teams may hurt their chances of recruiting new employees or impressing clients. Customers may see a business's outdated processes as a sign they don't quite have their act together. Some businesses have outsourced apsects of their HR, especially fast-moving startups run by youger entrepreneurs who haven't been trained in this area.

The good news is that businesses can easily make adjustments that will bring their HR teams further into the 21st century. Here are some those effective work practices and how you can implement them.

Simplify Payroll

One of the first places to start is in the automation your team members use to make sure your employees get paid. If you're still cutting payroll checks and using manual timesheets, you're wasting valuable time each month. By moving your payroll checks to automatic deposit, you'll also provide a welcome convenience to your employees and contractors. Automation also reduces the risk that you'll make costly mistakes in your recordkeeping, which will help keep you out of trouble at tax time.

Related: Payroll Made Easy: Automated Payroll Service Claims To Make the Process Quick and Painless

Incorporate Flexibility

Today's new generation of workers expect flexibility in their work environment, whether that means being allowed to work from home or keeping an hourly schedule that better meets their needs. One study found that 75 percent of employees listed work-life balance as a top priority in a job. You may not be able to offer the best salaries or the nicest office spaces, but you can win and retain employees with an HR team that is less focused on policies and more focused on employee happiness.

Related: 5 Secrets to Achieving and Maintaining Work-Life Balance

Include Freelancers

The freelance economy is growing, with many workers choosing the freedom of contract work over salaried positions. Your HR team may be firmly set on hiring salaried employees despite this, which means you miss out on opportunities to work with some of the best specialists in a given field, whether it's sales, design or engineering. As the freelancer economy continues to grow, your business will find it difficult to compete with the many other HR departments that have embraced the concept of contract work.

Related: We're Turning Into a Freelance Nation. Here's What That Looks Like.

Recruit Continuously

When the unemployment rate drops, HR professionals find they must shift from waiting for candidates to apply for openings to recruiting great workers. If you're always on the lookout for great team members, you'll likely find that when an opening does arise, you're fully prepared to fill it. When you do have a position available, your HR teams should shift their focus from placing ads and sorting through applications to attending networking functions and job fairs to find the perfect professionals.

Related: 3 Ways to Be Constantly Recruiting Star Talent Through Social Media

Handle Employee Issues

Employee disagreements are inevitable. If you have an HR team who can gracefully resolve them, you'll have a good shot at creating a positive work environment. Your HR team should be fully trained in conflict resolution, with the ability to work one-on-one with feuding employees to ensure everyone is satisfied. Your HR employees serve as consultants to the rest of your staff, so it's important to ensure they receive regular training in how to properly manage your company's most important asset: its workers.

Related How Leaders Can Best Manage Conflict Within Their Teams


Your payroll is only one of many processes your HR team undertakes each day. A top-quality enterprise resource planning (ERP) system can help bring everything they do under one umbrella to avoid duplicate work. The reports you'll be able to extract will help you better manage the employees and contractors on your teams. You will be able to gain insight into which employees are most productive, employees who take the most vacation time, and similar information that can help in your labor planning.

A human resources department serves an important role in an organization, helping bring workers together and supporting managers when they hire, fire, or take disciplinary action. With the right tools in place, HR teams can be far more productive in the work they do, but they'll also need to continually update the way they interact with people. Recognize that not all duties can be outsourced, and that choosing who to recruit or what to automate can be optimized as new technology and ideas come along.

John Boitnott

Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

Journalist, Digital Media Consultant and Investor

John Boitnott is a longtime digital media consultant and journalist living in San Francisco. He's written for Venturebeat, USA Today and FastCompany.

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