As businesses have increasingly migrated their operations from the office to remote working arrangements, while simultaneously coping with a challenging economic environment, many are shifting business functions outside of the organization. While many businesses have outsourced administrative functions, they often overlook human resources as an area where remote assistance can be a difference maker. Responsibility for much or all of recruiting, performance management, and compliance functions can be outsourced, often to a virtual assistant, with the organization benefitting from bringing in expertise that it lacks in-house or, in the case of an existing HR department, by adding more capacity.
“In the past, companies were hesitant to outsource some of their HR work,” says Amie Irwin, an HR Assistant at Equivity. “But I think it’s easier to see now that many of the central functions of HR – initial phone interviews, running background checks, processing payroll, and compliance – are easily handled remotely.”
When outsourcing HR, however, you need to make sure that the person taking on the responsibility is an HR professional. From a recruiting perspective, this means somebody experienced in obtaining the important information from candidates in interviews. According to a recent Forbes article, “A great recruiter is a great interviewer, and now you must be an expert at virtual interviews. Like all things, becoming great at virtual interviews takes practice.”1 On the flip side, an HR professional also needs to be expert at managing candidates unhappy about being turned down.
With regard to onboarding, you’ll need help from somebody familiar with the regulatory documentation required from a new hire and a process that ensures all necessary steps of onboarding are followed. “Because of the regulatory environment, whether it’s equal opportunity laws or payroll taxes, you really need to know what you’re doing when you handle a client’s HR. Winging it isn’t an option,” says Irwin.
Payroll is another HR function that can easily be outsource. Here, the HR professional needs to know how to make the best uses of the automated payroll systems most companies use. For companies that run their own payroll, this often requires a thorough understanding of QuickBooks features. Companies that outsource their payroll require somebody with experience working with vendors like ADP.
Sometimes, it’s not about bringing in an HR professional to handle existing responsibilities, but to identify unaddressed needs. For example, all organizations should have employee handbooks to set expectations for employees and to have clear processes in place for dealing with important issues, like allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination. Some organizations do not have any handbooks, while others issue handbooks but then fail to update them on a regular basis. Other often neglected areas include creating job descriptions, organizing employee reviews, and circulating engagement questionnaires.
As organizations become more comfortable integrating remote solutions in the past few months, many will identify HR as a prime target for outsourcing. For many organizations, outsourcing HR has the potential to make a positive impact at lower cost in a challenging economic landscape.
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