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The Deep End Of The Human Capital Pool

May 4, 2008
You are sitting at your desk at work and you take a look around you. What do you see? Aside from that coffee stain on the rug that someone needs to tell janitorial about, and a ficus in desperate need of water, you probably see people. Friends, colleagues, employees -- human capital? Well, yes. This is not a challenge to individual worth. Of course, employees are not filing cabinets, and they have needs and goals of their own, both within the organization and outside of it, but in spite of its somewhat negative sound, human capital is a simple and empowering concept, originally expressed by the 18th century economist Adam Smith: people acquire practical knowledge, skills and learned abilities that make them productive and potentially valuable to an organization and society in general.

Everyone pays lip service to the cliché "People are our greatest asset", and with good reason. Very little gets done in any organization without people. The right number of people with the right skills in the right place - this is the challenge every company faces, and we all know it is harder than it sounds. Don't overstaff, don't understaff. The employees should not be overqualified or underqualified. Like Goldilocks, the needs of the organization demand that everything be "juusst right". Attracting and keeping highly qualified employees is the goal, but it doesn't stop there. Helping those employees perform at their peak is also vital. It is out of these basic needs of every organization that human resources management is born.

When a company is small, it may seem that its human resources management requirements are simple. But in fact, a company is never too small to outline HR goals, to develop a "human capital strategy". The very definition of HR management is to increase an organization's productivity by attracting, keeping and effectively managing employees, and no company can grow or be successful without achieving this goal.

The importance of the human resources professional in the business world today is unquestioned, and the role is changing dramatically. The days of the HR manager as a mere record-keeper, smiling and filing, are long gone. The position requires leadership and innovation as well as administrative implementation. The successful HR professional is a business partner, strategic planner, legal guidelines expert, recruitment guru, and employee advocate.

This is reality of today's HR department - there is a large array of functions that fall within the purview of the HR manager. Recruiting and hiring, payroll, time and attendance, benefits management , compliance with government regulations, training, strategic planning, and the supervision and management of the HR department staff. If the HR manager is going to help the company achieve its business goals, then each of these functions must operate as efficiently as possible. So how does the HR manager find time to be the HR Professional? How do you find time for strategic planning when you have to get payroll done? How do you help define and guide the corporate culture when the deadline for benefits open enrollment is looming? It takes determination, vision and technology. The determination and vision you already have, the technology part is surprisingly easy. Human resource management software is widely available and can streamline operations and cut costs in every function of the HR department.

Recruiting: In today's economic climate, if you are going to attract and hold on to the most qualified applicants, you need a competitive benefits package. You don't want to be spending money on the hiring process itself that could go into a highly qualified employee's 401k. Recruiting software can reduce hiring costs and shorten the hiring cycle. You can virtually eliminate paper with online application and resume routing.

Payroll: Few is any do payroll manually - however, many outsource to avoid the pains of keeping up with an ever changing environment. Chances are you outgrew the economic benefits of outsourcing but never quite took the in-house plunge. If now is the time - look for a comprehensive and flexible system that will allow you to run trial payrolls, make last minute changes and that integrates with benefits and accounting.

Benefits: Online benefits administration offers a twofold advantage: it empowers employees by offering them detailed information and access to their benefits 24/7 over the internet, and it saves your department countless hours of administrative follow-up, all while, once again, eliminating printed documents.

Time and attendance: Attendance tracking software should allow you to set up any number of employee attendance and time-off plans, and will help you manage workforce costs and increase productivity.

Training: Employee training offers the opportunity to make an investment in your human capital, but is all too often short-circuited by the administrative hassles involved. There are software programs available that will allow you to minimize the administrative investment, while at the same time creating a successful training process that is highly satisfactory for both employee and employer.

There is no question that the complexity of the HR function has grown; however, so have the resources available to the HR professional who has a vision for contributing to their company's success.

At ACI we are experts on the Sage Abra HRMS product line. It's an integrated group of human resources management and support software that offers time and cost savings to HR professionals.

If you need help adapting your ERP, Accounting, or Human Resources Management systems to track and manage your going-green efforts, email me at solutions@ACIconsulting.com or visit us at www.ACIconsulting.com. I'll put our team to work on it!
About the Author
Douglas Luchansky is the President of ACI Consulting, a reseller for HR and ERP related software and services such as Sage MAS 90 ERP.
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