Strategic HR

7 ways to transform transactional HR to strategic HR

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Human Resources first sprung to life as a recognised field in the 1920s. But for most of the 20th century, it was called “personnel administration”. This was an era of transactional HR, whereby the job of the HR professional was to deal with the technical and administrative aspects of personnel management.


During the 1970s, however, perceptions began to shift. Globalisation, deregulation, and the introduction of technology allowed personnel administrators to become more strategic. Over time, the field became known as HRM – or, human resource management.


Today, human resources is recognised as a strategic part of business. Yet in many companies, HR professionals are still seen as paper pushers. And they are still stuck dealing with the more manual and transactional sides of HR.


If this sounds familiar, here are seven strategies you can use to start shifting from transactional HR to strategic HR. Use these to position yourself as a strategic advisor and start to make a positive impact on your organisation’s success.



1.  Introduce employee self-service

One of the first things you can do to unburden yourself from the chains of transactional HR is to introduce employee self-service. This means giving your employees the tools to manage their own employee records. For example, giving them a tool to request holidays or allowing them to edit and maintain their personal details, such as contact information.


As well as freeing up valuable time, you’ll also be creating a stronger culture, by empowering your workforce. Most cloud-based HR systems now offer employee self-service, so if you are still using spreadsheets or paper forms, now is the time to make the switch.



2.  Automate your most basic processes


Transactional HR is all about moving things from one place to another. In many cases a machine can handle this, so why are you still doing it yourself? Most modern HR software will let you automate processes like sending documents and contracts, and notifying departments of changes to employee records. By automating basic processes, you free yourself up to work on the more complex, strategic tasks you were hired to do.



3.  Align business goals with a people strategy


Once you have more time to think strategically, you need to think about how you will manage your workforce in a way that supports your company’s goals. If possible, speak to the senior leaders in your organisation. Find out what they want to achieve, and then work out how you can manage your people differently to help them achieve this.


Download this free guide for more advice on achieving consistency in HR processes and outcomes.



4.  Delegate repetitive tasks


Technology is getting more and more sophisticated and seems machines today are doing so much more than we ever imagined was possible. But not everything can be automated (just yet anyway). There might still be day-to-day administration tasks to deal with and if you can’t automate them, then you need to manually process them.


However, if you’re spending too much time doing this yourself, you’re clogging up your valuable schedule with tasks that don’t make a meaningful impact. This leaves little time to focus on developing your people strategy.


If possible, delegate these transactional tasks to somebody who will do them accurately and efficiently. Note down all your tasks and separate the transactional tasks that can’t be automated, from the strategic areas that need your attention. Delegating these transactional tasks means you can spend your time applying your knowledge and skills to your company’s long-term goals.



5.  Start thinking 3 steps ahead


As HR professionals, it seems we have a thousand fires to put out on a daily basis. But you won’t get very far strategically if you’re only thinking short term.


Short-term thinking is extinguishing flames. Mid-term thinking is finding the source of the fire. But the point you want to be at is fireproofing your whole building! If you start thinking three steps ahead, you’ll soon be aligning HR with your business’s bigger strategy and working towards becoming a strategic business partner.



6.  Report on meaningful workforce metrics


Depending on the people who run your company, you might have a hard time sharing your insights with the senior leaders in your organisation. This isn’t a reason to quit – you simply need to be proactive, and find a way to get the message across! With time and practice, you’ll start to learn which statistics matter, and which metrics should be measured. To help you get started, here are five HR metrics to focus your attention on:


     -  Cost per hire

     -  Turnover

     -  Absence

     -  Job satisfaction and/or engagement

     -  Performance


If you still use spreadsheets, you can generate basic reports on the data you store. But if you want an easier way to discover insights and generate powerful reports, you could consider cloud-based HR software.



7.  Stay ahead of the trends


Beyond supporting specific business goals, it pays to stay ahead of the curve. The world of HR is changing constantly, and if you’re aware of what’s happening, you’re in the best position to help your organisation adapt and evolve.


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This post was written for The Access Group, a leading provider of HR, digital learning, payroll and financial management software to small to mid-sized organisations. It helps more than 47,000 customers globally across commercial and not-for-profit sectors become more productive and efficient.