The measures of success in business are always shifting and evolving. While financial performance and employee satisfaction continue to be key indicators of progress, CEOs are paying attention to other important metrics to gain a holistic view of annual achievement. For instance, a 2019 report published by Deloitte revealed that the majority of CEO respondents (34 percent) cited societal impact (which includes diversity, inequality, and the environment) as the top success factor. Additionally, in a survey conducted by ScrumAlliance and Forbes Insights, 80 percent of CEOs see agility as the most important characteristic of a successful organization. 

Both of these examples represent strategic, company wide initiatives that can be achieved—in part—through effective HR leadership. HR teams are at the core of building and representing corporate culture, hiring employees that fit in agile workflows, and spearheading employee programs and initiatives that lead to greater social impact. 

But HR can’t be effective if they aren’t efficient. 

Measuring your HR team’s efficiency is the first step in transitioning to a more strategic department that works with leadership on the big-picture. If HR is bogged down with paperwork or constantly racing to keep up with compliance, team members won’t have time for the people-focused work that makes the greatest impact. 

How to Measure HR Efficiency

Although reporting, measuring, and looking at your HR efficiency through an analytical lens may take time, it will improve processes and identify time-saving opportunities that act as long-term solutions. 

Use these steps to measure the efficiency of your HR team:

Step 1: Define Your Department’s KPIs

If your HR department does not have key performance indicators in a documented format, now is the time to think seriously about what makes your team successful. 

It’s difficult to measure efficiency without having a foundational road map in place. By starting with your overall goals, you’ll be able to clearly identify what department functions contribute to those goals and which ones are purely transactional. 

Step 2: Conduct a Time Audit of Your HR Workflows

Do you know how much time your team is spending on paperwork? How about employee training? If you don’t know the average amount of time being spent on certain tasks, it’s impossible to improve time management and maximize efficiency. 

A recent survey conducted by and the HR Research Institute revealed that 71 percent of HR professionals report that almost half of their department’s time is spent on administrative duties. Have your team accurately report the time they spend on administrative tasks such as keeping track of applicants, updating personnel files, and maintaining employee document compliance.

Audit how much time your team spends on employee onboarding and training, conducting talent searches, and creating programs that benefit employee satisfaction and retention. 

Step 3: Analyze Your Audit

You can conduct an audit of how your department spends its time, but if you don’t analyze the data, then it won’t help lead to greater efficiency. Add up all the minutes, hours, and days being spent on different areas of the business and compare those figures against your goals to understand whether time is being spent in the best ways.

Reviewing and understanding the time breakdown for all of these processes will reveal areas of opportunity to both increase efficiency and shift focus to more strategic initiatives.

How to Improve HR Efficiency

Once you audit and understand how efficient your team currently is, it’s time to find solutions for improvement. Following these steps can help:

Step 1: Automate What You Can

Technology in the HR field has come a long way, and automation tools that help teams cut down on administrative tasks and paperwork are plentiful. Leverage software such as human resource information systems (HRIS), employee document management systems, and applicant tracking systems to streamline transactional HR practices and free up your team’s time. 

Step 2: Evaluate How You’re Using Tools and Technology

If you already have technology systems and software in place, take the time to review how you are using them in your current workflows. Are you using them to your team’s best advantage?

Evaluate whether there are ways to maximize your tools. If you don’t know if the system can accomplish what you’re hoping, set up a call with a vendor representative to provide you a refresher on the tool’s capabilities. 

This step also applies to standard office tools such as Microsoft Excel and Google Documents, which may help streamline internal communication, collaboration, and tracking. 

Step 3: Help Identify and Solve Pain Points

HR is the bridge between upper-level management and company employees. Once your team is free from administrative work, it’s imperative to have conversations with managers, directors, and C-suite executives about what they see as pain points in their own departments and within the company as a whole. 

Once those pain points are known, HR can work within the organization to set up systems, processes, and strategies for alleviating some of those struggles, maximizing efficiency throughout the company. 

Step 4: Advocate for What You Need

HR leaders that never discuss their needs with company executives and get buy-in for new software, new hires, or new initiatives will continue to struggle to get their jobs done effectively. 

If you know that certain automation software, a new set of tools, or a new part-time hire will make your department more efficient—start a dialogue with the people who can make those things happen.

Just make sure that you can speak to the ROI of what you’re asking for and build a business case for the solutions you need. 

For more tips on how to maximize your time and efficiency so that your HR department can lead a people-focused organization, watch the webinar The Myth of Time Management for HR: How to Make Time to Focus on People with HR Expert Steve Browne.