Solid HR Programs Can Boost Companies’ Efficiency, Productivity

Companies that put well-crafted human resources programs into practice are realizing a significant benefit that can impact their bottom line: The same programs that help businesses cultivate, enhance, and retain strong talent bases also help drive those businesses’ efficiency.

The Human Factor: Finding, Training, and Keeping the Right People

The link between sound HR programs and efficiency makes sense. Efficiency refers to how well companies utilize their resources to generate income. People are, by far, one of the most important resources a company has, and HR is all about people. So, if companies want productive staffs that contribute to overall organizational efficiency, HR programs are a logical way to get there.

The process begins with recruitment, says HR consultant, author, and speaker John Sullivan. “By far, the most impactful factor in workforce and team productivity is hiring and retaining employees with exceptional capabilities and self-motivation,” he says. “Working together, managers and HR can attract, hire, develop, and retain individual employees who are agile, high-performing continuous learners and innovators.”

HR plays an important role, not only in hiring capable people, but also in bringing in the right people for your particular organization and openings. When your HR team understands the details of your business strategy and goals, it can focus its recruiting efforts on talent with the skill sets they’ll need to be effective and contribute to a smoothly running operation.

Once your company brings in the right people, the next step should be helping those people acclimate to their new roles with another key HR program intended to instill critical skills, knowledge and behaviors in employees: Onboarding. This vital step goes a long way in fostering — and retaining — a productive workforce.

BambooHR recently surveyed 1,000 U.S. employees about onboarding, says Sharon Florentine, who covers IT careers and data center topics for More than 50 percent of the employees surveyed said they craved a structured onboarding process with relevant and well-timed content – along with continuous on-the-job training – to help them become effective, contributing team members, Florentine says. When HR helps your company develop carefully crafted onboarding —including job expectations, mentoring, and position-specific training — it makes this possible.

Far-Reaching Impact

HR plays a critical role in recruiting and training – but there’s more to human resources than simply filling job openings. In addition to finding new employees, HR can contribute to your existing employees’ productivity and company efficiency throughout their careers with your organization. By implementing a fair, thorough employee appraisal system, for example, HR can help your people recognize and target areas that need improvement. A good appraisal system also can help the company recognize areas of employee strength, which can further bolster retention and protect company efficiency.

In addition, research captured by HR managers often can provide even more practical insights about company employees and leaders. This data, from factors that impact morale and longevity to behaviors that impact job effectiveness, can be put to work to help leaders improve performance and team engagement.

“With well-defined business goals in place, you can develop effective employee performance expectations that align with those business goals,” writes Dallas Romanowski, managing partner of Wilmington, N.C.-based Cornerstone Business Advisors in a blog for Wilmington BizInsights. “Comparing actual performance among the same positions, business functions, managers, and geography will provide insight that leaders can act on.”

HR teams can provide valuable information about employee satisfaction as well, Romanowski notes. “Asking employees about their satisfaction on a quarterly basis will help leaders keep a pulse on their team.” Capturing this data helps companies spot trends that will help them respond appropriately before they lose good talent.
Shaping Leadership and Maximizing Efficiency

Not only can good HR practices shape and influence your company’s employees, they can your company find, develop, and retain strong leaders, too. And good leaders are vital to creating a company culture that fosters loyal, productive employees and effective work processes. (For more details on the critical role of leaders, please see: Good Leaders Can Transform Businesses: Here’s How to Find and Keep Them:

“Leaders and managers play a critical role in defining the direction, purpose, priorities, goals, and roles of the workforce,” Sullivan says. HR programs can also act as insurance programs that help companies minimize disruptions that could interfere with their efficiency. One example of this is workforce planning, a systematic organizational practice that companies use to avoid talent shortages. Workforce planning “is based on the premise that a company can be staffed more efficiently if it forecasts its talent needs as well as the actual supply of talent that is or will be available,” writes Sullivan in his blog, “Why You Need Workforce Planning,” for Workforce. “Workforce planning might be more accurately called talent planning because it integrates the forecasting elements of each of the HR functions that relate to talent – recruiting, retention, redeployment and leadership, and employee development.”

Outside of the Box: Creating a Culture of Innovation

HR’s impact on efficiency can go beyond the traditional functions associated with this discipline. HR practices, for example, can help companies usher in a much-needed culture of innovation – including creative approaches to streamlining processes and bolstering employee effectiveness, said Shiva Sundar, HR Director-India, Akamai Technologies, during a recent interview with “Today, the markets are characterized by rapid change, fierce competition, and a perpetual quest to out-do themselves,” she says. “Thus, it has become imperative for organizations to innovate at every stage.”

HR teams can train leaders to promote innovation within their organizations. Sundar says she does this by encouraging leaders to believe in innovation themselves, to encourage risk-takers, and to create concrete processes that promote innovation, from programs that assess the organization from both employees’ and managers’ perspectives to brainstorming on how to streamline staff meetings.

Not only can HR teams encourage more innovative approaches to company processes, they can equip leaders to promote a valuable culture of “getting along,” another building block of efficient, productive operations. In fact, companies that successfully establish teamwork among employees and departments tend to financially out-perform organizations that value internal competition. Solange Charas, CEO of Charas Consulting, says in a blog for Entrepreneur that she urges leaders to encourage and reward trust, respect, team-mindedness, altruism to other employees, morality, and modesty. “Braggarts who are engaged in self-promotion, lording their successes over others, and creating a bullying environment should be quietly discouraged from this behavior, and the bosses who tolerate this should be coached and trained to encourage a different kind of behavior.”

Leadership training isn’t the only path to cooperative team members. HR teams can begin the process with recruiting, Charas says. “Even when there is a clear job title and hierarchical structure, sometimes the skills and competencies required for those positions are lacking in the individual. It is critical to not only recruit the right talent, but the right ‘attitude.’”

Hand in Hand

Essentially, nearly everything your company does with its HR team, when thoughtfully planned and executed, goes hand in hand with improved organizational efficiency, from creating a pipeline of qualified employees and leaders to bolstering team members’ likelihood to thrive, support one another, and stay with the company. “It is adequate and conscientious HR management that will estimate and retain a qualified, well-cooperating workforce, and therefore, ultimately, an increase of organizational growth, efficiency, and profitability,” says Joan Marques, assistant dean, School of Business, chair and director of the BBA program, and associate professor of management at Woodbury University in Burbank, Calif.