The Evidence is Mounting: HR Outsourcing is a Key Part of World Class HR Organizations

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

For years the Hackett Group’s HR benchmarking analysis has shown the increasing use of HR outsourcing. Now its research of Global 1,000 companies over the past two years shows that effective use of outsourcing plays a key role in achieving world class HR organizations. According to advisory practice leader Harry Osle, “our research shows not only that it is possible, but also explains precisely how world-class HR organizations manage to do more with less and play a key role in helping their companies succeed.”Hackett HR benchmarking provides staffing and cost comparisons by HR process and then identifies best practices. Those companies in the top quartile in both efficiency and effectiveness metrics are considered world class.

World class HR costs less

The research finds that world class HR organizations:

  • Spend 27% less on HR services per employee than typical companies
  • Reduce HR labor costs by 29%
  • Operate with 24% fewer HR staff per 1,000 employees
  • Spend 50% less on outsourcing
  • Dedicate 25% greater spend to technology.

World class HR focuses on operational excellence, talent management, and strong relationships

World class organizations use HR outsourcing more effectively; they outsource at similar levels to typical companies, but they retain fewer in-house staff associated with these processes, gaining greater cost benefits while avoiding work duplication and shadow staff.

HRO service providers have been encouraging clients for years to simplify and standardize processes and policies to gain the most from outsourcing, which matches what world class HR is doing:

  • Using more self-service for payroll, training, total rewards administration, and staffing services
  • Focusing on automation, standardization, and complexity reduction
  • Reducing the number of job grades, health and welfare plans, and compensation plans.

Integrated talent management is another component of success. The HR leaders closely align talent management strategies with business objectives and increase strategic workforce planning capabilities including high-level consulting and analytics and modeling. They also develop internal talent, recruit externally faster, and measure rigorously.

HR executives at world-class organizations have a seat at the table, and are universally involved in business planning compared to less than half of typical companies. Leading HR staffs are much more engaged in managing and facilitating organizational change.

World class HR brings data

According to Hackett, an increased focus on measurement and analytics is another way that world-class HR organizations partner with the business more effectively. Only 20% of typical HR groups report metrics for HR-managed projects, while the leaders do this over three times more often and close to 80% report organizational metrics for change initiatives.

Leading full service HRO vendors have been building out their own talent management offerings and have added options for HR analytics, providing support for two more aspects of world class HR.

Certainly we expect HRO to support operational effectiveness and cost reduction.  Now, we know it can do more in the transformation of HR into world class business partners!

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