HR is about taking care of people. That means helping people navigate the various stages of the employee journey, as well as making sure the business has the right talent to meet its strategic goals.
In order to balance these two primary objectives, HR teams have to be nimble, adaptive, and efficient. They need processes and tools that make their work as simple as possible so that they can focus on what really matters: relationships.
In this article, we explore the 11 human resources processes that are most critical for the success of any business. We also consider some of the ways these processes can be optimized to help you deliver exceptional employee experiences and set your HR or People Operations team up for success.
What is an HR process?
A human resources process is a way of bringing consistency and visibility to a common function of the HR department. This consistency makes it easier for employees to interact with their HR teams and helps HR managers respond to employees with timeliness and accuracy. (It also makes life easier for those HR professionals, who might be used to receiving requests via email.)
Improving these processes is usually the responsibility of the HR specialist or manager. This improvement requires adapting the process in order to:
- Create positive employee experiences
- Reduce errors and improve accuracy
- Improve response times
- Enhance visibility & control
- Make the processes more user-friendly
- Reduce process friction
To improve their human resources processes, HR managers may leverage common tools such as forms, visualizations (flow charts or support documents), or software that automates some or all of the process. Connecting processes and integrating tools is essential to achieve all goals previously mentioned.
Learn more about achieving business process excellence in HR.
Why should leaders care about HR processes?
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, business leaders faced a new set of challenges that underscored the importance (and even necessity) of business agility, flexibility, and adaptability. As the way companies operated changed to address these new challenges, HR departments have stepped up to become more strategic partners in business innovation and future planning.
Within this, HR teams are driving and defining — not just facilitating — HR processes and strategic planning that ladder up to key future-proofing initiatives, including:
- How the company will grow. Businesses will need to evaluate the other ways a business can grow, such as training, development, and the technology used to facilitate growth.
- How the compnay should operate. This includes adopting new work models for a more flexible workplace, establishing more people-first policies and processes, simplifying existing HR ecosystems, and improving decision-making speed.
- How the company defines itself. This includes defining purpose, culture, and business value to both customers and employees.
As a result, it’s essential for business leaders to reconsider the function of HR processes — like recruitment, retention, and performance management and development — and ensure that they’re built and managed in a way that promotes business agility and adaptability to meet evolving business and employee needs.
What is HRM?
HR processes are wide-ranging and touch many different segments of your business. Human resources management, or HRM, is a strategic approach to overseeing all the people and processes that help your business run.
Without a system to manage these processes, your HR team can become overwhelmed by a sense of disorder, repetition, and a lack of consistency. While there are many benefits to effectively managing your human resources processes, three are the most common:
- More efficient and effective processes. This is the primary goal of BPM. Improving the time to complete processes impacts many aspects of the business. Whether it’s getting a product out the door faster or getting valuable employees in the door faster, BPM facilitates the achievement of business goals and leads to improved organizational performance.
- Improved customer satisfaction and service. Today’s consumer expects to buy and receive the right product with reliable, fast delivery. BPM can improve the business processes that meet and exceed customer expectations.
- Higher employee morale. Automating processes is a key part of BPM that can relieve employees of mundane, repetitive tasks that nobody finds to be rewarding. Forms and process flows can be automated so that minimal input is required from workers. Automating the routing of forms, requests, and approvals can free up employees to do more productive work.
11 key processes in human resources management
There are many human resources processes that your team will manage, and they will change in response to your company’s growth, government regulations, and trends in the industry competition.
Some of them are likely changing now, as HR teams adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing return to work initiatives. But there are 11 key human resources processes that every HR team must manage well for the health of your employees, and the success of your business.
Recruitment is the process of attracting qualified candidates to interview with (and potentially work for) your company. Your HR specialists own all the necessary steps to recruit talent. This includes posting jobs on sites such as Monster or Indeed and developing compensation packages that are likely to attract and retain the most talented candidates.
HR must also review each application, determine the best fit, conduct phone screens, schedule (and sometimes conduct) formal interviews, initiate background checks, and draft initial offers.
According to recent research, the transition to remote work has made it more difficult to retain quality employees. In one survey, 58% of respondents said they would look for new work if not allowed to continue working remotely. In another, researchers estimated that 41% of the global workforce is likely to consider leaving their current employer in the next year. As a result, 70% of business leaders in another survey say they are reevaluating their recruitment and retention strategies as they prepare to return to the office.
All of this signals challenges ahead for HR departments as they retool their strategies for retaining current talent and recruitment. It’s likely that these processes will evolve in order to accommodate what some HR leaders are calling a “war for talent.”
Onboarding is the process of integrating newly-hired employees into the company. More comprehensive than orientation, this process usually takes place over the course of a year.
During onboarding, employees are introduced to the abundance of resources they’ll need to succeed, e.g., role descriptions, performance expectations, and required training. These logistics are always handled by HR personnel.
The amount of variation required in the onboarding process (different roles, requirements, security clearances, etc.) necessitates managing it in an organized fashion. Employee onboarding software can be leveraged to standardize the stages of onboarding and ensure everyone is on the same page about the schedule and responsibilities.
The onboarding process is necessary for empowering employees with the capability to contribute to organizations. In fact, at one company, employees who went through a structured onboarding process were 69% more likely to stay for up to 3 years.
Example of an employee onboarding process (swimlane diagram)
Offboarding is sometimes overshadowed by the onboarding process, but the departure process for employees can make a big difference in minimizing disruption, maintaining a positive employee experience, and protecting the company’s reputation as a desirable employer.
5. Training and development
Along with retention, employee training has undergone many changes since the COVID-19 pandemic began. More changes are on the horizon.
There are two main reasons why the employee training process will require extra attention and better organization moving forward.
First, much of the training that was once done in person now has to be handled remotely. That means new tools and new workflows to manage.
Second, the pandemic changed how we work, where we work, and in some cases, who we work with. That likely means revised or additional training for many teams. According to one report, business leaders expect to invest in a range of initiatives in the coming months including diversity, equity, and inclusion (65%), relationship building (55%), and professional development and training (39%).
6. Employee relations
Employee relations are comprised of all the HR activities geared towards employee engagement and employee retention. Employee engagement, to put it simply, is a measure of how invested employees are in the company. Employee retention involves creating measures to ensure employees are satisfied in their jobs.
Healthy employee relations are critical for decreasing the employee turnover rate. Ideally, HR teams use quantitative and qualitative means of measuring employee engagement and its effect on retention. These methods are different forms of creating bilateral interactions between employees and their employers to ensure they’re engaged, which is one of the main aspects of employee relations.
These different approaches, which may involve issuing various forms of surveys with quantitative responses or simply requiring employees to sign off on policies after reading them, need a uniform means of implementing and studying their effects, which HR process management software provides.
7. Compensation and benefits
Compensation and benefits are the two main forms of external motivation to attract employees and retain them. HR is directly responsible for officially offering compensation and benefits packages, like health, dental, and retirement plans, to each employee. Doing so requires gauging the salaries and benefits packages of other employees within the organization in similar positions, as well as those outside the organization.
It also involves annual evaluations of employee performances which becomes the basis for increasing salary and benefits packages or possibly augmenting them with bonuses. In fact, the wide array of different benefits alone requires a comprehensive means of managing this HR process; various salaries and bonuses only add to its overall complexity.
8. Employee requests
How HR teams manage requests has a direct impact on employee experience and job satisfaction. That makes it critical for HR teams to have workflows in place that can resolve requests quickly and accurately.
That can sometimes be a challenge because HR manages a wide range of employee requests including PTO, equipment and facilities needs, employee feedback, and requests to update personal information or access documents.
Improving outcomes for all types of employee requests can be as simple as using a workflow management system that allows teams to create and automate unique workflows for each type of employee request. Sometimes referred to as HR case management software, these tools make collaboration across teams much easier by providing access to everyone — in any department — to provide input or approval to resolve the request.
9. Performance management
Performance management is the process of gauging how well employees are doing their jobs and devising ways to help them improve them. Often done on a yearly basis, HR departments are tasked with managing, evaluating, crediting, and addressing each aspect of the performance management process.
At a minimum, this task requires getting approval to initiate performance management programs, issuing evaluation forms, managing organization progress on evaluations, and implementing the results into salaries, benefits, and bonuses. Because there are so many highly differentiated steps involved in this process, it needs formal management measures that are replicable and able to scale throughout an organization.
10. Regulatory compliance
Regulatory compliance processes are centered around ensuring organizations and their employees follow the many different regulatory mandates that pertain to them. Regulations generally vary by industry, regulating body, location, and type of work performed.
HR departments are responsible for promulgating the specific activities that need to take place across business units for ensuring organizations remain compliant. The broad scope of these regulations, the ever-expanding number of regulatory entities and their mandates, and increasingly severe penalties for non-compliance necessitate managing compliance processes extremely carefully.
11. HR planning
Human resources planning (HRP) is the identification and management of all of an organization’s hiring needs. It involves accounting for an organization’s HR supply, future demands, forecasting, strategy, and implementation. To be effective, HR must balance long- and short-term staffing needs with business goals and the realities of the business climate.
Ideally, factors affecting HRP should be integrated into HR process management software. Often companies use SWOT analysis or forecasting tools to uncover their needs.
HR process automation benefits
Effective HR departments drive organizational objectives by managing HR processes but can compromise growth by using manual methods. Repetitive, multi-step tasks and manual interactions among tools are highly prone to human errors and inefficiencies that delay time to action.
Automation and integration can eliminate those risks, giving HR teams more time to focus on other priorities. The result is an HR team that can visualize all processes in a single place, prioritize important demands and manage its responsibilities while putting employees first.
Focus on people, not paperwork
Successful HR managers know that it’s their job to take care of people, not just paperwork. After all, employees are your business’s most valuable asset. Their happiness and well-being have a direct impact on customer satisfaction, process efficiency, and business profitability. HR process automation and integration allow you to shift your focus away from the minutiae of forms, emails, and spreadsheets and toward making a meaningful impact on the people in your organization.
Improve visibility and control
To enhance visibility and control, it’s essential to integrate tools and automate manual and repetitive tasks.
Automation allows organizations to create KPIs around important metrics—such as turnover rates—and offer different choices for creating reports around this data to automate information delivery processes for HR planning. By using tools that automatically send and reply to emails, organizations can standardize and speed up aspects of leave requests, vacation requests, employee onboarding, and employee relations.
They can also pipeline processes related to recruitment—such as sending feedback to candidates when business cards are received—to spend more time on choosing the best candidate instead of just trying not to miss potential opportunities.
Better HR processes for everyone
HR plays a critical role in ensuring business success. Giving your HR team the tools they need to be effective and efficient is one way you can make a direct and visible impact in your company.
By making improvements to the 8 key HR processes, you’ll be eliminating waste and redundancy, improving response speeds, and creating a more productive work environment. Most importantly, you’ll be refocusing time and energy so that your team can take care of the people that make your company a success.
Pipefy makes it easy to streamline and organize your HR processes. Standardize forms, integrate tools, and enable end-to-end visibility.