Is your HR department effective? 5 questions to find out

Effective HR departmentBusiness leaders often set up a human resources function, and then leave it to run. As long as employees are being paid, benefits work at the doctor’s office and the EEOC is not at the door, they assume all is good. But is that all you want from HR? I hope not.

Here are 5 questions to ask yourself and your leadership team to begin the conversation of how you can create a human resources department that adds value every day:

1. How do your employees receive their information today?

What employees don’t hear directly, they often invent.  Communication can be a primary driver of organizational culture. So put your human resources leader in charge of delivering the right message at the right time.

2. Do you have enough people dedicated to HR, or are managers handling their own issues?

I have a client with 120 retail employees that was having managers do all hiring and payroll. Then they wondered why the stores weren’t as profitable as they wanted. We put in an entry-level HR team member to handle all recruiting, payroll and benefits. Within a few months, profits improved.

Time your line managers are spending on HR is time they are not driving your business forward. And, since they likely haven’t been trained on best practices, they spend far longer on HR then a pro would.

3. Is your current HR resource utilizing technology for basic administrative functions?

Without a robust HR tech system, your human resources will be stuck in administration. It doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. Most organizations with fewer than 250 employees simply use the capabilities of the payroll or benefit systems. Just be sure they are all working together, and HR can focus on your organization, not processing data.

4. Does HR regularly interact with the other business units about their business, or are you generally focused on HR?

Human resources has to be about business first. HR’s expertise may be in employees, but the focus should be what drives your business. It’s important to know what drives your business—is it ROI? Market leadership? Research? Get out of HR and learn what makes other areas tick.

One suggestion to those looking to take their career to the next level: Go out to lunch with other department heads and learn their priorities.

5. Does HR report to the CEO, or another function within the organization?

Your CEO may think, “The last thing I need is another direct report.” But what can be more important than a direct line of communication between a CEO and the employees? A great HR person will know what is a good use of the CEO’s time. Empower the HR function to act on behalf of the organization and lead the management team to success in staff engagement and productivity.

Lori Kleiman is president of the HR Topics consulting firm and author of the book HR You Can Use.