HR leaders know, there are a lot of things to do every day and not enough time to do them. It’s easy to focus your attention on the current fire in front of you or get bogged down in tasks that are important yet manual and time-consuming. But this prevents leaders from focusing on the areas of HR that can be more strategically valuable for the business.
In my previous role as an HR leader, I was faced with the challenge of taking important but cumbersome processes and streamlining them so that they benefitted not just back-office staff but all employees. Our main challenge was our time card approval process, which utilized paper time cards. For nearly 300 employees who filled out time cards, it took four staff members two entire days to interpret these handwritten cards, fix mistakes and enter the information into payroll. And that happened every two weeks.
We knew there was a better way, but we didn’t know if it would be affordable and a good return on investment (ROI). Yet the drag of this manual process on our resources — and the potential consequences of not finding a better way — led us to research, choose and implement an integrated human capital management (HCM) system.
At its simplest, this tool allowed employees to clock in and out on their computer and for our department to download the hours in order to do payroll. We went from four people and two days of work each payroll cycle to two people and one day of work — while knowing we could still tighten up the process and save even more time as we got used to the new system and its features.
The Five Big Benefits of HCM Systems
As we leveraged additional features of the integrated HCM system, we discovered a whole range of benefits to our business. Five really stick out to me — and they can apply to the majority of organizations who implement an HCM tool like we did.
1. Time Savings
Although we touched on it already, the time savings we gained really can’t be understated. At my previous role, we went from spending 64 staff hours on payroll to 16 hours, with further potential for improvement. Our HCM system also helped us with ACA reporting. Whereas it previously took over 100 hours in January to become compliant, after the system was implemented, it took eight hours — and only because I wanted to double-check everything.
With so many staff hours gained back, we could spend them on other priorities, meaning we could be more strategic and choose to work on projects that added more value. For example, we added new employee benefits and made changes to our retirement plans — two things we had been meaning to do but could never find the time, and two things that added a lot of value to the organization.
2. Fewer Mistakes
Every time you handle a piece of information and rekey it into another system, the chance of making a mistake goes up exponentially. For example, when I pulled reports, I had to pull information from multiple systems, take those spreadsheets and merge the information together manually. I always went back and reviewed the information and always found I had made mistakes. It’s just so easy to mis-type something when you have to manually re-key information — especially large amounts of information.
However, an HCM system limits the amount of manual processes you have to undertake, which means vastly fewer chances to make errors, and of course, less time spent reviewing information for errors.
3. Less Paper
An HCM system keeps the majority of your information electronic, so you end up using far less paper than before. It’s not only better for the environment but also good for attracting and retaining employees who are more passionate about the environment. Furthermore, it saves you money.
For example, at my previous role, we used to spend half a day printing paystubs, folding them, putting them into envelopes and distributing them to employees. The HCM system eliminated this entirely, as employees could access their paystubs through the system. The money we saved by doing this was considerable. (We also eliminated the chance of accidentally putting two paystubs in one envelope.)
4. Better Decision-Making
Having all of our information in the HCM system allowed our department to be more strategic in our projects, but it also allowed our management to make better, faster decisions, as they had access to more information and reports than previously.
It also allows you to make better decisions about hiring within your department. Baby boomers are retiring in great numbers, and if someone retires who had a lot of manual duties, you may not have to dedicate a new person to those tasks because you can automate them with an HCM system.
Right now, building capacity on your team without adding new employees is hugely beneficial, as the talent pool is shrinking. So if you don’t have to rehire for specific positions, or you can hire someone for a more strategic position with more challenging and meaningful work, you add greater value to your organization.
5. Happier Employees
With the time-sheet automation, employees and managers didn’t have to take the time to manually fill out timesheets and then inevitably answer questions from us about their handwriting. The convenience was a big benefit for them. The HCM system also put meaningful information into their hands when they wanted it, from the hours they worked to details about their benefits, so everyone was happier all around once they got used to using the new system.
It also allowed HR staff we had hired for specific skills to actually utilize those skills instead of spending time on manual and repetitive tasks, such as keying new-hire information into various systems and filing W4s and other employee-related documents that are now being completed and stored electronically. Your people can do more meaningful work because of an HCM system, and because they’re happier and more engaged in their work, you’re more likely to retain them, as well as attract any new hires you may need. With that tight labor market I mentioned, that’s a huge benefit.
Let’s Talk About Your Human Capital Management Processes
What are you doing today that you could automate and clean up? What could work better for your department and your organization as a whole?
I’ve lived the life of an HR leader, so now, as a consultant with Wipfli, I understand the challenges and how an HCM system can be an ideal solution. Helping organizations save time and money and increase engagement is our goal at Wipfli. Contact us to learn more about HCM solutions and how we can support your business.