More Than A Cost Center: How HR Can Impact Business Results

July 13, 2021

Human resources has been considered a cost center for too long.

The truth is, the work the HR team is doing has the ability to directly affect the success, productivity, and finances of the entire organization. The question you should ask yourself is how can you change the narrative and deliver impactful results.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the Occupational Handbook defines the work HR manages as planning, coordination, and direction of the administrative functions of an organization (boring way to start an article, boring way to describe HR). Anyone who has worked in HR knows they are doing a heck of a lot more than that.

Recruiting, performance management, learning and development, succession planning, compensation and benefits, HRIS technologies, and data risk management are incredibly impactful to the success of the organization as a whole. With this kind of reach across the entire business, there are a variety of ways you can increase your performance, build trust, and win a seat at the table for yourself and for the entire HR team.


Let’s start with recruiting.

The recruitment process, in the most simplistic terms, should include planning, searching, screening, selecting, hiring, and onboarding. But we all know that it is easy to take shortcuts when the hiring manager and leadership team are shouting for more people—better, faster. The truth is that when we make those shortcuts to speed up the process, we are really hurting ourselves in the long run.

Start by defining your process.

If you define and document your process, you create the guardrails for yourself, your team, and the organization. Did you have an intake meeting with the hiring manager? You probably already have a job post you can pull from the archives or quickly click copy from the last time the role was posted. But are those really still the responsibilities and characteristics for the job?

Do you have personas for the jobs, or at least the departments you are filling positions for? What type of person is a fit for this job? What characteristics and experiences make someone successful in the role long term? Take a look at the top performers in the role or the department and start looking for and targeting people who are like them.

Are you advertising to the right audience in the right places? Be honest with yourself, is posting and praying on the job boards really working for you? Probably not—and if you think you can say yes, you probably do not have the metrics to back that claim up.

I could go on but I think the point has been made. Get your house in order, get your most important processes documented.


We’ve all heard the “we needed more people yesterday!” demands from the hiring manager.

And it’s probably true. The better staffed their department, the more effective they can be at reaching the needs of the business and the customer. Being understaffed means the employees are being overworked and many goals are likely being unmet. So, what are you doing to make the process, or the candidate pipeline, move faster?

Here are some ideas:

  • Paid advertising – stop spending the majority of your recruiting efforts and budget on job boards. There are really amazing advertising options available where you can reach active and passive candidates where they are, instead of waiting for them to come to you (or the job boards).
  • Leveraging your current database – when was the last time you searched for candidates who already applied to your organization? Run a quick query in your ATS and send out “are you still looking” emails to those folks who already expressed an interest in working for you. And before you say anything about them not making it through the process before, they have months, even years more experience now than they did last time you talked to them. Give them a shout and see where it leads.
  • Referrals – remember earlier in this article when I mentioned you could tap into your top talent to see what traits and characteristics made for high-quality employees? Well, they probably know people like themselves. So ask them to give you some names and numbers and get dialing.
  • Internal recruiting – good grief, if you are not recruiting from your own talent pool I am not really sure what to say. Hiring from within is good for everyone.

Which brings me to retention. You do realize that if your people were not leaving you would not need to hire as might, right? Of course, a growing company (which we all want) will still be recruiting. But if you could hire someone and then get them on a career path, offer them great comp and benefits, in a culture where they feel valued (wait no, not just feel but actually ARE valued), you can focus on early talent pipelines instead of shifting your focus or strategy for every single open requisition.


Get your company culture in order.

Know who you are, not just aspirationally but legitimately understand who you are as an organization, what you have to offer your team, and how you differentiate yourself from the competition. No, not your product or service competition, your recruiting competition. The shop down the street needs 10 machinists, too. If he starts offering $1 more an hour than you, what stops your best machinist from packing up his workstation and taking his years of experience elsewhere?

Culture, that’s what.

By now, if you read anything on culture at all, you should know that culture is not ping-pong tables and happy hours. Culture is about treating your people fairly and with respect. Show them appreciation and be sure they know how much they are valued by their peers, leadership, as well as your customers. Pay them a fair wage, offer them the benefits they want (not the bare minimum disguised as perks), give them feedback on a consistent basis, and provide a clear path for career growth (and personal growth if you’re feeling extra). You’ll be surprised how far that can go.

Earlier, I casually mentioned that you probably do not have the metrics to show what is working for you, specifically posting and praying. Which means you are not able to track the ROI of your advertising spend. Was I right? Is that job board telling you how many impressions your job post received? How many clicks? When you make a hire, do you really know if they came from the job board, a referral, or social media? Are you tracking the actual cost per hire?

But back to those costly job boards (time and money). Honestly, do you really think that the right candidate (are we still calling them purple squirrels?) will happen to visit (insert your job board of choice here) today, right after you post that impossible-to-fill job, see it, love it, go through the painful process of applying through the site and then probably through your ATS as well, craft a thoughtful cover letter (ha!), answer your phone call on the first ring, be available to interview tomorrow, accept the job on the spot, and start next week? Yeah, right. That could derail at any one of those stages.


So why are you spending so much of your much-lobbied-for, hard-to-justify, impossible-to-measure budget on these job boards? Why are you hoping they will fall into your lap and do all the heavy lifting for you?

Do yourself a favor and take some of that budget, maybe half of it if you are feeling bold, and put those dollars into a recruitment marketing campaign. And create a better experience for your future employees. It is hard to get their attention in the first place, do not lose them because the application and interview process is cumbersome and lengthy. There are so many other places hiring that are ready to steal their attention with something as simple as a mobile-responsive career site and text-to-recruit communication program.

Stop being a cost center and start making measurable and impactful business decisions directly affecting the organization. You and your team have more to offer than administrative overhead. How? Document your processes, work efficiently across the organization, shorten your time to fill, recognize the power of retention, identify your culture, differentiate yourself from the competition, and invest in programs that can be measured and reported. Change starts with you.


Not sure where to start?

MSR audits your recruiting process, identifies your employer brand and candidate personas, crafts an advertising plan to reach the right active and passive candidates, and brings them right to you—helping you fill open jobs with more applicants and better quality candidates faster than the methods you are using now.


Contact MSR

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