Don’t underestimate the importance of investing in human resources

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Consider technology-based solutions and streamline your workflow.

Small-business owners can underestimate the importance of investing in human resources, which can prevent the business from growing, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

The first step is to consider the business’ needs. Benefit plans, payroll, time-tracking, employee information, hiring/firing, promotions and much more fall under the realm of human resources, so it’s important business owners have an information technology system and solutions in place to navigate the information, compare plans and keep up to date with the latest changes.

SHRM says the days of paper-based systems are over, and that all businesses, even small companies, should consider technology-based solutions and streamline their workflow so the business owner can focus on growing the business.

This can be achieved through various information technology software, so a business owner will need to determine the needs and find a product that fits. Here are some things to consider:

How much flexibility and scalability does the business owner need? Data may be stored in multiple sources such as Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, databases or paper documents. Also, the business owner will need to consider the potential for growth and choose a program that can continue to meet the company’s needs.

Can the software follow rules and deadlines? Will it be user-friendly to employees? Benefits carriers will have eligibility deadlines and requirements the company must follow in order to enroll employees. Employee access to the program will allow them to make immediate changes to personal information, compare plans and enroll in
their own benefits.

Who will be responsible for implementing the software solution? Does the business owner or his or her designated human resources person have the time to do this? Some solution providers can take care of this for the business owner and provide the necessary training, while others don’t, so it’s important to understand the level of training and expertise that will be required to operate the program.

Who will own the data? The business owner should verify and ensure their company owns all information and is able to transport data as it needs, especially if the data resides with a carrier’s server.

What security measures are built into the technology? The majority of the data entered into the system will be confidential, so there will need to be controls in place to determine who has authority to view it. There also will need to be back-ups in place to prevent the information from being lost or stolen.

After all of these questions are answered, the business owner should assess the complete cost of the system. This includes annual, monthly and one-time charges. Those charges should be compared to the benefit provided and then determined to see whether any cost difference is made up for in convenience, time savings or accuracy. ♦

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