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Are you a hamster?

By Mandy Chapman, Head of Oracle Practice and Process Design

We work with many HR leaders who have great ambition and are mature in their approach to HR, to ensure that their strategy aligns with business goals and with business needs at the forefront of their minds. This is often balanced with a desire to ensure that their people have a sense of purpose, are nurtured, trusted, and are supported by inspirational and empowering managers. 

However, in some of the businesses we work with, we find that HR teams across large and small organisations and spanning every sector, are held back from executing their strategy and initiatives because they have become hamsters – running on a perpetual wheel of fire-fighting, reacting to the multitude of issues that exist in HR operations, which then dilutes the focus on HR strategy that the organisation desperately needs. This affects the way HR value is viewed within the company, which intensifies the issue – and so the wheel turns faster. 

What we need is to get off of the wheel,  to really get to the real operational issues that are holding the HR function back. 

When should you get off the wheel and start doing something? 

At the bottom of this blog we have highlighted some of the signs that could highlight inefficiencies. If any of these are familiar then you might want to think about making a change now – even small changes in one key area of your function can have positive effects and can help to build some momentum. We also love to start small ensuring you can see real value in what we deliver. Our customers have had eye-opening experiences. 

What should you do? 

We always rely on the Process, Technology, People model. These three elements of business will never be perfectly aligned but reviewing and striving for alignment should always be near the top of your agenda. The one area we find that people focus on, and often become obsessed by, is technology. Now, technology is great and can be very exciting. Technology can also be a true enabler of people and performance, but without linking strongly to process and the people that interact within these processes, every technology project will fail to deliver on what you expected – or at best will be a long, painful and drawn out process of unpicking process and design decisions, and resetting Board and stakeholder expectations. 

In our experience, there are three key reasons for this: 

  • Processes are seldom mapped out to understand current or desired state and are not kept up to date or allowed to evolve following go live. 
  • During technology review, functions and requirements become more important than business process, which is often gazumped completely in favour of ‘standard system processes’. 
  • Desired outcomes are not clearly articulated, meaning that no one knows what good will look like. 

We specialise in taking a practical approach to aligning your systems to your people and processes and as a result, improving the service that HR provides to the organisation. 

People, Process and Technology - Symptoms of poor alignment: 

  • We have manual processes in HR or payroll 
  • We have too many workarounds and duplication across systems 
  • We have payroll errors including overpayments and underpayments 
  • We find it difficult to report on key employee metrics, such as turnover, attrition or time to hire 
  • Our systems are clunky and out-dated 
  • We have poor user engagement across the business 
  • Our HR systems seem to work against us and are not user-friendly 
  • We do not provide the level of service to the business that they require 
  • Our reputation as a department is poor 
  • Approval routes are circumvented 
  • The business doesn’t understand what we do in HR 
  • The business has unrealistic expectations 
  • Our HR systems do not talk to one another or to payroll 

Do these look familiar? If so, please get in touch at 

In Mandy’s next blog, she will talk about practical steps that can be explored to help to get off the wheel. 

About the author

Vickey Wallis

Get in touch

Want to find out more? Get in touch and discover what Symatrix could do for your business. We’d love to chat.

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