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What else besides technology helps an HR department thrive?

Customer serviceTechnology plays a huge role in what human resources does every day, but  it is not the only way the department can influence its company for the better. In fact, technology is only one-third of the solution to making HR a well-run operation that benefits an entire business. Investing in technology is vital, but so too are a strong focus on two other important factors: providing great service for customers and co-workers and giving an outstanding effort. All three are of equal importance for a well-run department.

That is not to say technology isn’t vital. Nearly half of HR departments use two or three software solutions to assist with their work, and an additional 14 percent use four or more, a 2014 CareerBuilder survey found. Those programs can help with managing payroll, benefits, sick days and many of the other tasks that HR employees must handle. Online tools such as job boards and career websites also help a company find, research and attract top employees, and social media tools are now starting to do the same. A successful business needs to utilize technology to help the HR department thrive.  And of course, the fewer technologies a company needs to use is better for simply the sake of not having to manage multiple solutions.

However, HR needs to do more than just rely on technology. Here are the two other elements that can help make a strong HR department:

A focus on service
In a lot of ways, the HR department is the front window into a business. When guests walk in and they are greeted by a worker at the front desk, they are talking to HR. When a job candidate submits a resume and cover letter, HR is the one that acknowledges it.

Because the department so often represents the business as a whole, the way HR treats others is very important. Forming meaningful relationships and gaining trust can help a company and it often starts with the service HR is able to put forth because it is using technology that does not pull it’s focus away from what matters — the employee, HR’s customer.

“The HR department is the front window into a business.”

A 2011 study by The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology found that the customer service an HR department provides has a positive influence on a company. Researchers studied the employee reports of service climate at 22 branch locations of a bank and compared those to customer reports of the service quality customers received at the same locations. The data showed that at branches where employees felt the service quality was high, customers also viewed the bank as outstanding. Further analysis showed that service quality impacted customer retention rates and increased a business’s market value. By improving service to customers, HR departments increase the chances their business will be frequented more often.

Providing service is not only for outsiders. HR can also be of great value to a company by assisting colleagues. A survey by Google’s data team called Project Oxygen showed that workers prefer personalized feedback and one-on-one coaching with their managers on a regular basis, which improves job satisfaction and results in a positive rise in retention. A HR department that takes the time to see how its workers are feeling and provides the services they need to give feedback can help improve production.

Business comes first
HR departments have a lot to do on a regular basis. With so much on their plates, people operations workers cannot afford to waste effort on meaningless tasks or waste time by not giving their full effort on any given job. Yet despite all of their obligations, HR departments should always be focusing on the needs of their company and growing their business.

Putting forth a strong effort often leads to innovative results. In an excerpt of his 2015 book shared on Wired, Google Senior Vice President of People Operations Laszlo Bock wrote about how the traditional job interview format no longer is a strong indicator of person’s ability to do a job. An interview, explains only 14 percent of an employee’s performance, according to Bock. Much more valuable is a work sample test, which explains 29 percent of what a job candidate can do.

After determining the best ways to evaluate job candidates, Bock and his co-workers went about finding ways to make the job interview more effective and useful for finding the types of workers they want to hire. The effort they put in was to see if they could find a process that would help the company predict how candidates would perform once they were hired. By going the untraditional route and rethinking how employees are questioned and evaluated, Bock and Google have seen the interview process become a better indicator of who will succeed in their future position.

These types of innovations help a business grow. By gaining a better understanding of the interview process, Google’s people operations department have staffed the company with workers who are strong fits for the jobs they have been assigned. HR can do this in other ways, including self-studying. By reviewing what co-workers do well, HR can put people in the best possible position to succeed. A worker should be utilizing his or her greatest strengths around 80 percent of the time, according to Forbes.

When a company’s needs and its overall growth are the top priorities in every task an HR department does, positive results will follow. Giving a strong effort and being innovative assist in handling all of the tasks asked of employees, but there is nothing more important than ensuring the business as a whole is doing well. When an HR department has its own companies interests in mind, with the assistance of technology and a focus on service, positive results will follow.

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