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The Most Outdated HR Processes (and How to Fix Them)


Human resources (HR) processes are often an afterthought when it comes to digital transformation. Today’s IT leaders are focused on secure data storage. Meanwhile, CEOs are looking to improve employee productivity with technology. It may not get as much attention, but HR is crucial cog in this machine.

4 dated HR processes to get rid of

So, is your HR team struggling with manual, outdated processes that are stuck in the 90s? Here are some key warning signs to look out for, and the strategies you should use to address them.

1) Processing paper → going (mostly) digital

“[Human resources] is moving from processing paper to making sure individuals feel valued in the organization,” employment attorney Kate Bischoff recently explained to SHRM.

Paperwork was once synonymous with HR processes. Now, ‘paper-first’ has become ‘people-first’.

  • To automate inefficient admin work, embrace digital documentation with Google docs, Microsoft 365, or project management software.

There are also HR tools with digital forms and templates built right in. Digital solutions now exist for most HR processes, and you can manage everything from timesheets to eContracts without relying on paper.

It’s also important to mention the environmental impact of paper. The average office in the U.S. uses 10,000 pieces of paper every year. If that doesn’t persuade you, just think about never getting another paper cut again. Now we’re talking …

2) Punitive policy-making → increased flexibility

COVID has ripped the band-aid off of inflexible working policies. Suddenly, bosses have had to accommodate employees juggling homeschooling and other interruptions. Strict time-off policies have had to be adjusted to accommodate for self-isolating.

  • The role of HR is to personalize an approach to suit evolving requirements.

So, try to build a culture around resolving issues, not assigning blame. Use a guide to employee conduct and set parameters for work, of course, but always remember the “human” in “human resources.”

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3) Rigid hiring practices → update and diversify

Take a look at your existing hiring practices. Are you making assumptions about your TA and HR processes? Are you making assumptions about candidates you engage with?

Review the steps involved in your recruitment pipeline and make use of current technology. Instead of interviewing candidates over the phone, for example, try video conferencing.

If you don’t already have one, adopt an applicant tracking system (ATS). That way you can reach more people, improve the candidate experience and hire more talent — specifically, diverse talent — faster.

4. Annual reviews → consistently empower employees

Annual performance reviews can be stressful, unrewarding experiences. Nine in 10 HR leaders are dissatisfied with how their companies conduct performance reviews.

Annual reviews lack context. As employee contributions are summarized, they may also be minimized. Replace or supplement them with regular check-ins, like monthly 1:1s. In so doing, you can recognize employee achievements in greater detail and offer support when they face challenges.

The future of your HR processes is in your hands

We predict that, by 2025, HR processes will have seen a significant shift. Technologies such as process management tools, analytics, and even AI will give small teams the power to transform their HR capabilities and adapt to the future of work.

They’ll need that power. The rapid evolution of working culture means that ideas like unlimited time off and remote work may soon become the new norm. For many forward-thinking organizations, these changes are already underway — and their HR teams are preparing.

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