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What is HR to do when there’s no time for the to-do list?

6 min read


The job of an HR professional has never been so daunting. Your to-do list is growing, the pile on your desk doesn’t seem to diminish and you can’t seem to find the time to do it all.

New issues are facing HR professionals on a daily basis. The cost of providing employee benefits continues to rise. The rules and regulations behind hiring contracted workers continue to change, and as Fox Business reported this year, there are serious ramifications if you’re not keeping up. In addition, the influx of social media and the ever-escalating exchange of virtual information play a major role in how businesses do their job, which in turn requires more of HR departments’ time, evident in Forbes naming 2013 “The Year of Social HR.”

The bottom line? Most HR groups are being asked to do more with less, all while struggling to stay afloat.

Given these escalating challenges, many HR professionals are looking at their options: to continue attempting to tackle it all, to outsource some of their job functions or to find a hybrid outsourcing solution. Take a look at the five easy steps below to determine which direction will help to eliminate some of the chaos.

1. Take a step back and assess the situation.

With your job responsibilities only increasing, you likely can’t handle it all. Chances are, you already may be outsourcing some aspect of HR, whether it be recruitment, temporary staffing via third-party providers or benefits administration. Now is a good time to reassess your outsourcing relationships and consider whether they’re driving value to your organization.

Some of your outsourcing options can include:

  • Business process outsourcing. When working with a BPO, your company hands over full responsibility. This means that your time may free up almost immediately and positive results may happen quickly. Still, you may also incur high initial costs and some risk since you are essentially shutting down your HR department and handing over the reins to the BPO.
  • Engaging with a consultant. Working with a consultant can be beneficial because of the one-on-one relationship you build, as the consultant is dedicated to your business. A consultant relationship also may not be as risky as a BPO but is still potentially costly.
  • Working with a group purchasing organization (GPO). Some of the benefits of working with a GPO include eliminating your need to handle risky and costly functions, such as managing contracted workers and the cost of pharmacy benefits. On the other hand, a disadvantage can include the amount of responsibility a company is putting in that outside partner. You’re not handing over all responsibility like with a BPO, but you still may need to be able to let go of some of your existing workload and relationships.

Now that you know the three options, how do you decide?

2. Take inventory.

What responsibilities does your HR department currently manage? And, what functions are best performed by in-house HR because you know the company best? What HR functions could be performed by specialists or talent from outside of the organization, whether a BPO, consultant or GPO? Make a list and circle the roles you need to keep in house and what can be handled outside your company.

3. Think long term.

How will you manage your outsourcing relationships over the long term? This is an important question to ask because you’ll want a partner that can stick around. If you’re in it for the long run, you may consider handing over full responsibility to a BPO or working with a GPO, which leverages its relationships with providers of all kinds of services. In that case, the focus is on creating a solution, not a Band-Aid. What’s the difference? A BPO will assume complete control of your HR processes, whereas a GPO will still keep you involved with the process. The GPO forges deep, strategic and productive relationships with suppliers and helps its member businesses become a “customer of choice” by leveraging its volume.

4. What are the benefits?

If you’ve outsourced some HR functions, you can focus on strategic initiatives that drive change in your organization. Partnering with an organization who can supply the outsourced capabilities for services that aren’t on your priority list — such as recruiting, temporary staffing, background checks and drug screenings, relocation, non-employee payroll services and benefits administration — frees up your time to focus on important roles such as managing employee relations or compensation design and delivery. You also may want to outsource the risky and costly functions, such as managing your contingent workforce or pharmacy benefits, while you focus on strategic organizational goals while adding expertise and resources to your department. Plus, you’ll save time by not having to shop outsourcers, negotiate contracts and manage the relationships.

5. Sigh — now, breathe and make a decision.

Sometimes, the most difficult part of outsourcing is simply letting “it” go — whether “it” is recruiting talent, finding quality contingent workers or bringing on compliance expertise. As your job description grows and your to-do list reaches page two (or three), what’s the best solution for you — continue to tackle it all, outsource some job functions or to partner with a hybrid outsourcing solution?

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which partnership best fits your department and your needs, as well as what your core competencies are, and let go of the rest.

David Clevenger is the vice president of Corporate United, responsible for prioritizing the company’s portfolio of leveraged agreements, as well as developing supplier relationships. Prior to this position, Clevenger directed Corporate United’s strategic sourcing and supplier management functions. He has been named by Supply & Demand Chain Executive as one of the magazine’s “Pros to Know” every year since 2007. Clevenger is an expert in indirect spend management and functional alignment and has extensive experience in e-sourcing and supply chain consulting. He has written industry articles and participated in numerous interviews and panels  and is a regular presenter at industry events.