The Tricky Balance of Finding the Right HR Solution

An older businesswoman with black glasses smiles as she sits at a table with an HR representative and discusses options.

Finding the right human resources solution for your business is a crucial element to making sure operations are smooth, and employees are happy. Smaller and mid-sized businesses often have the same HR needs as larger companies: they require wide outreach for recruiting, fast benefits and payroll administration, incentive programs for employees, and on- and off-boarding. But with a leaner budget, it can be difficult to dedicate an entire seat to HR administration.

Alternatively, even if they can afford a dedicated HR employee, many businesses have to consider saving the salary and using the capital to help them grow. In other cases, some businesses also want to still have a small-firm feeling with a personal touch—but that's what begins to cost money.

How, then, do companies find the right balance? The answer may lie in a tailored, blended solution for businesses to get the best results.

Finding the Middle Ground

It turns out that turning to software that automates certain tasks doesn't mean businesses have to lose their personal touch. Many new HR software platforms offer "a la carte" or smaller services that enable businesses to pick what they'd like to automate or dedicate to software. This often includes creating efficient onboarding documentation, funneling candidates into a digital pipeline, payroll management, benefits self-service, and more.

This approach enables software to serve as an adjunct to any leaner human resources or people management roles, making them more operationally-efficient, cost-efficient, and culturally-conscious. For employees who are doing double-duty managing both HR tasks and their normal day-to-day, this modern HR software frees them up to choose what they want to do manually to keep that human touch, while enabling them to outsource the more rote—and often time-consuming—tasks, including payroll management, benefits administration, and more.

Identifying Your Balance

How can your business find the right balance between automation and hand-completed tasks? There's no magic answer, but you can ask yourself some vital questions about your business to find a starting point. It's also likely you'll need to evolve along the way.

Strategies to find your middle ground include:

Assessing Your Headcount

  • Do you have the resources to add headcount in certain HR-related roles?
  • Would the money you'd allocate to a dedicated HR role be better used for growth elsewhere, such as staffing a different department?
  • Would a dedicated HR employee have enough to do to make the position a worthwhile investment? Conversely, can a single HR person handle the volume of work you have?

Planning for Growth

  • Does your organization plan to accelerate growth to the point that you'll be hiring more employees that HR will need to manage?
  • Do you have an HR role on your roadmap, and does it correspond to the other changes you're making in your company?
  • Do you plan to offer an expanded benefits program as you grow that will need to be administered?

Identifying Workflow Optimization

  • Does your current staff spend too long working on easily outsourced tasks?
  • Is there an employee whose productivity is being hampered by using time for HR tasks?
  • Are HR tasks spread across multiple employees creating a disjointed workflow or redundant efforts?

Performing Cost and Benefit Analysis

  • Is implementing software more cost-efficient when you evaluate how your current HR is spending their time?
  • Do certain elements of your business cost you more than what automation for the same task would cost?
  • Would a fully-automated HR software suite cost you less, ultimately, than a full-time HR employee?
  • Is there a cost-efficient balance that would enable you to use software some of the time and supplement it with a part-time or contract role?

Understanding Your Company Identity

  • What parts of your culture are important to retain as a person-to-person relationship?
  • What do you think you'd sacrifice by automating certain tasks?
  • Are there certain expectations your employees have around person-to-person interaction, such as benefits guidance?

Play to the Strengths of Your HR Team

Asking these questions is a great place to start, and will guide you to make the right decision between automation and personal HR services both now and in the future. The other big piece of finding your balance for the right HR solution is understanding the strengths of the team you have in place.

For instance, no automation software can replace a truly passionate person whom your other employees feel comfortable turning to, and who greatly enhances your culture. Certainly, you don't want to replace the duties of that person with HR software, lest you lose that human element. Similarly, you'll be well-served to be honest with yourself and figure out where your team is weakest both in workflow and knowledge. Your employees may even be happier with certain automated systems that could make it easier for them to get through the HR process now and as you grow.

The views expressed by the authors are not necessarily those of Fifth Third Bank, National Association and are solely the opinions of the authors. This article is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute the rendering of legal, accounting, or other professional services by Fifth Third Bank, National Association or any of their subsidiaries or affiliates, and are provided without any warranty whatsoever. Deposit and credit products provided by Fifth Third Bank, National Association. Member FDIC.