In a recent Towers Watson survey, nearly half of the organizations reported that they intend to change their HR structure either this year or next. Business leaders who commit to such changes are motivated to increase productivity — but they struggle to create efficiencies within HR, where existing processes can be especially convoluted. 

The first step to productivity gains: Examine HR processes

In a recent Towers Watson survey, nearly half of the organizations reported that they intend to change their HR structure either this year or next. Business leaders who commit to such changes are motivated to increase productivity — but they struggle to create efficiencies within HR, where existing processes can be especially convoluted.

"I witnessed a 1,200-employee company save 10,000 hours annually when they improved their recruiting and on-boarding processes," said Greg Trok, vice president of Ceridian's customer process improvement team. "Multiply those 10,000 hours by the average hourly rate of pay, and the financial impact becomes undeniable."

The business benefits of efficient HR processes

For business leaders looking to improve quality and lower costs through synergies among their people, processes and investments, understanding existing HR processes is crucial. Trok says, "It's important to know where you are if you want to arrive at your destination. This journey is important, because when it comes to HR, process improvement delivers demonstrated value." By breaking down current processes then rebuilding more efficient ones, organizations can:

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  • Reduce costs as manual processes are identified and eliminated. It takes a lot of time to re-key data, track down answers and input information manually. When HR saves time, your business saves money.
  • Innovate by freeing your HR team from duplicate processes and wasted steps. People stop thinking about Excel and start thinking about ways to create success. They no longer fear the "fire drill" that results from an executive data request.
  • Grow by creating understanding between the impacted parties, quickly and naturally. Time is valuable and limited; when you can align improvement priorities with strategic goals in a manner that works in real life, payoff comes quickly.


In many organizations, HR processes are disjointed. Because each process likely draws data from a different set of systems and sources, leaders who want to explore process improvement often don't know where to begin. "The first step toward increased productivity is a internal HR process review," Trok says. "But be aware that not all such reviews are equally successful. Make the most of this opportunity by taking a proven, best-practices approach."

Best practices for an internal HR process review

The best internal process review is one that provides you with a step-by-step roadmap to help prioritize and execute initiatives within your company. "Conduct a review that is specifically created to gather quantifiable information in a useful, genuine manner," Trok says. "Acknowledge the fact that some people resist speaking up in a meeting — but they're happy to get involved in a one-on-one discussion of concrete process steps. Expect the unexpected. The results can be surprising."

10 steps to more efficient HR processes

  1. Start with a frequent or time-consuming process.
  2. Get executive buy-in; prove the dollar value of the exercise.
  3. Plan and organize your strategy by defining stakeholders, scope and timeframe. Ask teammates to prepare in advance for meetings.
  4. Visually clarify the current process. Keep it simple — sticky notes and a whiteboard can work wonders!
  5. Reserve judgment and forget assumptions while performing your evaluation.
  6. Document who performs each step, and how much time each step takes.
  7. Count the number of transactions and hand-offs. Capture each decision point (YES/NO).
  8. Identify re-work loops, then ask "Why?" 5 times.
  9. Uncover opportunities for improvement. Research possible solutions, then investigate their time and cost savings.
  10. Consider how change affects stakeholders.

The right HR process review can reduce costs and help you make the most of your workforce — even when budgets are tight. Johnnie Thompson, senior compensation analyst at California Casualty, was surprised at the immense value Ceridian's consultative process review provided to his organization. "I didn't expect that we would take all the time that we're currently using in our process and cut that time dramatically," he said.

For more information:

  • View our infographic, "The journey to more efficient HR processes"
  • Watch Greg Trok's recent webinar on HR process improvement