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  • John Markson

The First Step to Creating a Great HR Function

When I tell people that my company provides a turnkey human resource function for growing businesses, I invariably hear something along the lines of “my company could definitely use that as our HR stinks”. In fact, HR can be great. Unfortunately, the close-to-universal disdain for HR is due to a disconnect among leadership, employees and even HR professionals as to what HR should be doing and where value is added.

The gamut runs from the tactical such as organizing parties and running payroll to the more strategic such as recruiting talent, developing and enforcing workplace policies and training managers. Employees like to think of HR as a place they can go to vent, get questions about benefits answered and have workplace disputes arbitrated. Managers want a “customer-focused” HR that doesn’t ask a lot of questions and just gets offers out the door and promotions and pay increases approved and implemented. HR tends to want to enforce consistency and fairness notwithstanding that business lives in a more pragmatic place were those values are often luxuries.

More than any other staff function, an internal HR function is a “free” good with little incentive for leadership, managers, or employees to think hard about the most-value added things HR should be doing. Instead, it responsibilities commonly get added to the point where HR does lots of things poorly.

One of the valuable parts of Cannae’s business process is having the discussion with business leaders and managers about what they expect out of HR and where the true value levers are. The result is a more streamlined HR function with a clear association with value creation.

The top results of those discussions: finding new-hires at a reasonable cost and on-boarding them quickly, ensuring business-aligned workplace policies, maintaining competitive pay practices, eliminating administrative distractions related to payroll and benefit problems, responding professionally and promptly to employee questions and workplace issues, offering comfort around compliance.

Not coincidentally, these are the areas we at Cannae focus on.

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