HR Teams Are Smaller Than Planned…Now What?

“Every HR department has a headcount plan until their budget gets punched in the mouth.” – Mike Tyson…if he was in HR…probably.

From large organizations to scrappy startups, one constant remains: HR departments are rarely given the headcount needed to effectively support their people. As the rapid company growth we’ve seen in years past shows signs of slowing down, the roles and responsibilities of HR managers across the country are continuing to climb, or if you’re lucky, staying at their normal overwhelming levels.

If the hopes and dreams of your department were banking on some additional budget for more bodies that didn’t come to fruition, you aren’t alone. You also aren’t out of options.

Much ado about budgets

According to Gartner, HR’s budget allocations are roughly 2% of organizational operating expenses. Breaking that down a little further, the current numbers show there is roughly 1 HR employee per 66 FTEs, and roughly 9% of HR’s budget is spent on technology.

Some of you reading this might look at those numbers and immediately start to laugh-cry at your desk. Others might still be in the financial fight and are scrapping and clawing for headcount so you can effectively and efficiently do all of the primary functions of a healthy HR team. Others still might be facing the harsh reality that the HR department you have today might be looking leaner come next year.

Whichever scenario you find yourself, the budget will always be one of your HR department’s biggest constraints for success.

Audit for inefficiencies

If you can’t work larger, work smarter. You might have no control over what the final budget numbers or headcount are for your department, but what you do have control over is identifying and removing inefficiencies in your current processes and systems. Doing so has a double benefit. 

Spending time on inefficient administrative or low-impact tasks not only ties your team up when they could be doing work they’re passionate about for your organization, but also doing that work just kind of sucks, right? It’s a morale killer every time you or someone on your team has to manually dig through and update a labyrinth of spreadsheets and log into outdated systems with the world’s crappiest UIs. So since your team is looking lean, discover opportunities to make their jobs easier so they can focus on supporting your people and doing the work they love.

When is it time for Tech?

Regularly auditing your existing software solutions is generally considered good departmental hygiene, but it’s true now more than ever as HR teams continue to run lean and embrace the trend of digitizing their operations. In fact, the average HR team deployed 16.24 software systems in 2021, compared to 10.23 in 2020 and 8.85 in 2019. 

The good news is that doing an audit has a third benefit (knew we missed one) as it allows you to trim any existing budget fat caused by bloated and inefficient systems. It might not be enough to net you an FTE (even if they’d let you), but software is becoming a much safer budget play to pitch for that very reason. 

Today, many of the most inefficient processes (like leave of absence management, as a completely innocent example) require managing multiple systems that now can be automated and/or outsourced with a single tech solution. Modern tech solutions can not only save your team time, but in some cases can save your team money too.

Where do you start?

This question is a little tricky as each HR Department, whether you’re a team of 30 or one brave soul, operates slightly differently. If you’ve been overseeing a larger HR department it’s a great idea to survey your department on the biggest pain points of their workflows. Whether software systems or manual processes, encouraging your team to flag inefficiencies is a great starting point when evaluating which solutions will have the biggest impact. 

If you work for a smaller HR department, oh yeah, we see you. We know you’re well aware of each and every pain point because there’s just no avoiding them. So if your team isn’t growing, now is a great time to bring these pain points to the surface so you can reduce a bit of the burden.

Once you’ve identified which systems and processes need some TLC, it’s time to crowdsource and research potential solutions that will meet your department’s particular needs. The more intel you have on what’s not working and what solutions can make your operations run smoother, the best position you’ll be in to maximize your team’s efficiency and satisfaction with your given budget.

About Tilt

Tilt is leading the charge in all things leave of absence management through easy-to-use tech and human touch. Since 2017, our proprietary platform and Empathy Warriors have been helping customers make leave not suck by eliminating administrative burdens, keeping companies compliant, and providing a truly positive and supportive leave of absence experience for their people.

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