In many businesses, HR becomes the keeper and enforcer of company policy. Because HR is responsible for handling discipline, it is often also given responsibility for managing guidelines and rules that may, on the surface of it, seem to have little to do with human resources.
Here are five areas that your HR department may need to manage, helping to improve business efficiency in the process.
Software licensing is one of those issues that tend to be all but forgotten until the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) requests an audit. At this point many businesses run into problems with missing licences, or the use of software that is not properly licensed.
Often, IT audits reveal instances of software that has been installed by employees without permission. Some software will have been installed with innocent intentions, whilst other applications may have been obtained deliberately from illegal sources. Either way, the result is the same – a fine for using unlicensed software plus the cost of an official licence.
A recent high profile case saw training provider TLE audited by FAST, uncovering £28,000 worth of unlicensed software being used throughout the company. FAST’s findings suggested that the licensing shortfall was brought about by poor internal auditing, coupled with a lack of robust computer usage policies that would have stopped employees installing their own illegal software.
Although licensing is usually the responsibility of the IT team, HR also needs to be involved to ensure staff have been trained to understand acceptable use of company systems. HR needs to assist with creating company policies that explicitly forbid the installation of software sourced without approval. The HR team will also need to maintain records within their employee database confirming that staff have received training and signed the relevant policies indicating their agreement.
Most places of work seem to have plenty of space to do business, but very little in the way of parking. In shared office blocks the problem is even more acute, with an allocation of parking spaces that only accommodates a sub-section of your workforce.
As part of the induction process, HR is called on to allocate protective clothing (if appropriate), job-related equipment and increasingly, a car parking space. This could be as simple as informing employees of a parking space number, or issuing them with a card or fob to open car park barriers. Where there is a waiting list for parking spaces, HR will need to reallocate spaces vacated by leavers to the next in line.
Because Human Resources is responsible for smoothing the transition of new employees, it makes sense for them to oversee parking space management, particularly as parking “rights” are associated with an employee. Details of parking allocations could be logically stored with an employee’s record in your HR software along with all the other information you need to keep.
Strategic workforce planning
It may sound obvious, but HR is routinely left out of long-term business strategy creation. Despite the importance of having the right people in place to help underpin business expansion, HR often only gets involved once a strategy begins to be implemented, when the demand for restructuring or new employees is received from senior management.
So, when the HR manager is asked to help define longer-term strategy, inclusion in the project team is unexpected. Using the HR employee database, human resources is well-placed to help identify skillset shortages and estimate the impact of such on strategy. The HR team can:
- Identify staff suitable for new roles.
- Identify training needs that will help bring existing employees up to the level required for new positions in the restructured business.
- Begin the process of identifying and incentivising potential new employees in advance of actually needing to hire them.
- Accurately estimate the workforce headcount required to support the new business vision.
“Strategic workforce planning enables the organization to slice-and-dice its workforce data to discover critical issues, compare different groups, understand patterns and trends, home in on critical segments of the workforce such as mature workers and top performers, and customize its approach to managing different segments of its workforce. By enabling leaders to see across lines of business, workforce planning can leverage talent within a company.” – Strategic Workforce Planning: Forecasting Human Capital Needs to Execute Business Strategy – Mary Young.
As guardians of the company employment data, HR has all the tools required to help make informed business strategy if and when the chance arises.
Your skills and knowledge as a human resources professional are a valuable company asset. And for some successful businesses, your abilities provide the opportunity to create another lucrative revenue stream.
Some businesses are now asking senior staff to share their knowledge and experience with other companies, effectively turning you into a paid consultant who can be hired out to troubleshoot problems or train staff elsewhere. Other times, you may be asked to volunteer for local charitable organisations, donating company time and resources to them improve their own internal processes.
Such duties may not amount to more than a few days a year, but they help provide some variety to your work, and offer the chance to feed something of value into other organisations. Businesses that participate in skills based volunteering (SBV) schemes also benefit:
“Research shows that SBV improves recruitment and retention, especially among Millennials, and that it enhances employee morale, loyalty and productivity. Working for nonprofits with new teams, under added constraints and with limited resources, helps give employees a new perspective and stimulates their creativity.” – Skills-Based Volunteerism: A New Generation of Service – Corporation for National & Community Service.
It is also more than likely that as well as donating skills and experience, the HR team will probably be asked to oversee the scheme on behalf of your company.
The Human Resources department commonly captures a number of employee indicators, such as time-keeping and attendance, but there are a number of other valuable metrics your business may be interested in. And who better to record that information than the HR team, which already has a capable system in place to store it?
Intangible data, such as employee morale statistics, help to give an understanding of the health of your company, for example. Morale fluctuates depending on various factors, but where a longer-term trend can be identified in individuals, teams, or across the company as whole, the HR team can act to address it.
“HR needs to focus on metrics outside of HR to make the biggest impact on the corporation. HR (as a whole) needs to better understand each department and the organization as a whole before making strategic HR decisions.” – HR Measurements and Metrics: Gaining HR a Seat at the Strategy Table – Birkman.
By collecting this data, the members of the HR team may feel as though they have become mere score keepers, but with proper analysis the data becomes an incredibly valuable business tool. Once again, the HR team proves its worth!
Some of these unexpected roles are more common than others, but the key to handling each is to have a flexible approach to employer demands. This should also be backed by an equally adaptable HR software solution, such as that offered by SnowdropKCS, which can capture and process data to give your company true value from its employee data. With the right processes and tools in place, you will be well equipped with any new demands that come your way.
Michael Palmer is an Oxford based, business graduate and writer. His writing covers many subjects, including business, marketing, HR, fitness, and football.