Are you a hamster?

By Mandy Chapman

Many of the HR leaders we work with have great ambition and are mature in their approach to HR, ensuring that their strategy aligns with organisational goals and that they have business needs at the forefront of their plans. They balance this with a desire to ensure that their people have a sense of purpose, are nurtured, trusted, and are supported by inspirational and empowering managers.

But in the majority of the organisations 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, thwarting or diluting the focus on HR strategy that the organisation desperately needs. The result is reputational damage which corrodes HR value which intensifies the issue – and so the wheel turns faster.

Really getting to the root of the operational issues is critical for every organisation and having a clear plan to resolve these issues should be an ongoing priority, never a one-off event.

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

At the bottom of this blog we have highlighted some of the indicators that are symptomatic of issues in operations. 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 have cost-effective ways of pin-pointing and resolving these issues with you, without over-engineering the task. We also love to start small ensuring you can see real value in what we deliver.

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 list. The one area we find that people focus on, and often become obsessed by, is technology. This 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 following implementation.
  • 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 (old or new) to your people and processes and as a result, improving the service that HR provides to the organisation.

To find out more about the low levels of investment and high ROI achievable by following our approach, feel free to contact me directly at

People, Process and Technology: Symptoms of poor alignment:

  • We have manual processes in HR or payroll
  • We have too many workarounds
  • We have duplication of data 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
  • We do not have modern HR systems
  • 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 you tick any of these boxes? Get in touch