How Small HR Teams Can Punch Above Their Weight

How Small HR Teams Can Punch Above Their Weight

Small but mighty HR teams are under increasing pressure to perform with fewer and fewer resources. Typically, small budgets mean that functions like payroll, time and attendance, benefits administration, HR compliance, and more have to be done manually or with spreadsheets. This stifles smaller HR teams’ ability to consistently punch above their weight.

In a recent survey, GoCo found that 74% of HR professionals feel more pressure from senior leadership to hire and retain top talent amid The Great Resignation. 

And with the arrival of COVID-19, these pressures have only been exacerbated. HR teams must now also deal with the digital transformation accelerated by the pandemic. In fact, according to McKinsey, 85% of companies surveyed are increasing digitization during the pandemic. 

Large companies typically have access to ERP and enterprise-wide technology solutions, supported by large team headcounts. This equips them to handle rapidly evolving future-of-work considerations such as digital transformation or remote work policies. But what about small HR teams? How can they tackle the same issues that large HR teams face with significantly fewer resources? One answer is automation: Leveraging digital tech reshapes how small HR teams function.

Automation technology is increasingly being utilized by small businesses to power their HR functions and to deliver the prowess of a large HR team. 

Streamline HR Work for Efficiency 

When teams are small, it’s critical to optimize efficiencies and reduce errors. Often, small HR teams rely on highly tedious and time-consuming processes for benefits administration or payroll. They tackle complex functions using manual processes. More often than not, this leads to errors or simply monopolizes HR’s time with administrative work. This makes it difficult to tackle new pressing challenges facing HR leaders. Additionally, it becomes nearly impossible for them to take on strategic initiatives. 

Implementing automation technology streamlines core HR functions. Work can then be completed quickly and with significantly fewer errors. When HR practitioners have time to focus on caring for employees and supporting people functions, they provide much-needed value to their organizations. Automating time-consuming and repetitive tasks boosts the productivity of your HR team. An overlooked benefit of HR technology is that for small HR teams, the right tech can alleviate the need to check work or ensure the accuracy of reports. With fewer errors to fix and less paper-work to process or reconcile, small HR teams can flourish.

Staying Compliant

One of the most crucial responsibilities of HR teams is to ensure organizations, big and small, remain HR compliant — adhering to layers of government regulations and financial requirements. A business’s size does not exclude it from compliance requirements. And failure to comply can result in costly penalties at the state, local, and federal level.

Paperwork and manual processes are often the enemy of staying in compliance. Document-focused compliance processes will inevitably result in human error. Small HR teams can succeed at compliance work — but going digital is a crucial step in that journey.

There are many complex moving parts to HR compliance. Small HR teams have a lot to keep up with. Staying aware of constantly evolving and changing regulations when it comes to payroll, hiring, and benefits can feel daunting in one-person or small HR departments. This becomes only more complicated for companies that employ a mix of full-time, hourly, and freelance workers. Adding multiple regional or geographic locations adds further complexity. 

HR automation technology easily streamlines HR compliance and helps them punch above their weight. It improves accuracy and frees up HR to focus on emerging priorities such as employee well-being, hiring, and onboarding new employees.

Flexibility in Tech Is Key

Most small HR departments straddle the world of analog and digital — meaning even when they deploy tech solutions, they still rely on a mix of software, paper systems, and spreadsheets. It’s often a transition from paper to software to cloud-based systems. So, software that has the flexibility to align with how an HR department already operates eases the burden of learning and implementing a new system. Done right, technology can step in to automate certain HR processes to create efficiencies and then leave it up to each unique HR practitioner how they best want to track specific HR functions. 

One of the common obstacles in the way of HR departments that want to go fully digital is the lack of flexibility in many of the tech solutions out there. HR pros spend years, maybe even decades, perfecting processes like onboarding and offboarding. They don’t want technology that’s going to force them to change all of that. So it’s important to find tech that doesn’t force you to conform to a particular process. Rather, look for solutions that trust you to define your own workflow, and that are flexible enough to support that. 

And as small HR departments scale with the growth of their companies, so too must the technology. Platforms that only offer out-of-the-box solutions often have difficulty in scaling with a company’s growth. Flexible systems better match things like headcount growth and complex processes like running payroll in different geographies or supporting multiple EINs.

Optimize and Improve With Data 

When used strategically, HR automation technology is a powerful tool for small HR teams who want to have a big impact. It’s not enough to automate; there’s a growing expectation to leverage people data to make better business decisions. As more and more HR data is stored, modern HR systems can extract useful people insights. These insights drive outcomes such as reduced turnover, better onboarding, and increased productivity.

Small businesses and their HR teams can make better business decisions and improve employee experience with the reports that core HR technology generates. With technology, small HR teams can deliver high-impact, strategic work. Having better data covers compliance, better supports people, and empowers company leadership with key people insights. Small HR teams can be just as integral to business success as large HR teams — when they harness technology.