How can HR department deliver efficiency savings without compromising on services?

HR leaders have become used to being asked to 'do more with less' in the last decade.

As companies struggled to survive during the economic downturn, this was the go-to maxim to rally the troops. But with business services now on the up, will there still be the same level of expectation on HR departments to operate in such a lean manner?

With talent retention a big issue for HR managers, and the importance of technology growing, HR leaders would hope for greater levels of investment. But this may not be possible, so they need to focus on boosting output without providing additional resources.

LinkedIn research found only 26 per cent of budgets rose to keep pace with additional recruitment last year, underlining the situation facing the HR function. Josh Coulson, a senior insights analyst with LinkedIn, stated: "If companies can improve their efficiency and the way they're attracting top talent, that's obviously going to be a competitive advantage for them."

Gaining a competitive edge

So, how can HR departments continue to deliver great results without spending more money?

Online networks - Social media and professional networks provide a great platform for engaging talent in a low-cost manner, while they can also work well for advertising new opportunities. However, this does mean employees have to be trained to make sure they are effective on these networks.

Collaboration - Does your company think holistically in terms of goals? The next big HR idea could be staring you right in the face, just in another department. By encouraging cross-departmental collaboration, managers and leaders have the opportunity to share skills and learn from each other's experiences.

Mobility - In today's hyper-connected world, HR professionals need to be able to nurture and manage talent on the go if they are going to be successful. For example, by making sure literature is easily accessible on mobile devices you can increase visibility for career structures and opportunities for progression, which should keep staff motivated.

Training - As already mentioned, technology is becoming increasingly important, but its usefulness will be reduced greatly if the right training is not offered. While new starter guidance is obviously very important, ongoing professional development should always be accompanied by a high-quality training programme rather than forgotten about. Offer a blended approach that includes a mix of internal and external training to maximise success.

Talent management - There needs to be a clear focus on this area. By enhancing the quality of internal staff, companies can significantly improve their workforce without turning to external recruitment. Overhauling employee performance management policies is a good place to start.

*What does the future hold? *

Our own Workstyle Report for 2013-14 has underlined how HR staff are not in it for money - only five per cent credited money and benefits as the aspect they valued most about their job - with the intellectual challenge provided (25 per cent) coming out on top followed by the variety of work (20 per cent).

However, 51 per cent do not think HR is as valued as other business service functions such as finance, marketing and legal. This highlights a serious issue, as professionals who feel undervalued are unlikely to put in the extra effort required to get lean and innovative ideas off the ground. But by harnessing these workers and their skills effectively, a real difference could be made to HR departments as they seek to make the most of their budgets.