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Success Takes More Time and Talent, Say HR Professionals

Human Resources

Employees are among the most important factors in a business’ success. Making sure you have the right people employed in the right positions, and guaranteeing they feel cared for and respected, can make the difference between growing or going out of business.

To understand how most businesses approach the way in which they manage people, we surveyed approximately 100 HR professionals across the country. We asked them how they spent their workdays, which processes they felt weren’t as productive as they could be, and how they ranked the overall performance of their department.

See which elements of HR could help lead your business to success.

Responding to Company Needs

supply and demand

More than half of those surveyed said their departments’ most important functions consisted of training employees, dealing with racism, sexism, and workplace safety issues.

Experts indicate that ongoing training for company employees does more than ensure staff is trained properly for their jobs. It can create a deeper sense of employee satisfaction and culture by building loyalty, as well as creating a pool of employees that can be promoted into higher positions. It also helps keep employees engaged by giving them something to look forward to at work.

However, more than 30 percent of HR professionals wished they’d had more training in handling employee disputes and dealing with racism and sexism in the workplace. With racial tensions continuing to escalate across the country, racism in the workplace can pose legal concerns for employers, as well as impact office morale and productivity. Nearly 1 in 4 HR professionals also wished they were better equipped to manage employee training, and more than 1 in 5 said they wanted to be better at recruiting new employees.

The Value of Time

costs of doing business

Nearly 41 percent of HR professionals said their departments spent the most time training employees. While HR works to develop a learning environment for employees, it can also focus on finding third-party resources to deliver training that develops advanced skill sets. Well-trained employees have the potential to save businesses money in the future, as well as earn greater profit through increased productivity and potential sales.

Further, over 31 percent said their departments spent the most time recruiting new employees, while more than 1 in 4 HR professionals said they spent the majority of their time managing employee benefits, dealing with disputes, and interviewing talent.

Interestingly, more than 30 percent of participants wished they had better technology or systems in place for overseeing paychecks and keeping track of sick and personal days. In reality, processing payroll requires keeping a close eye on hours worked and the overtime rate. In fact, experts suggest time-tracking and payroll tasks are among the most critical processes for businesses to automate to increase productivity and efficiency in the workplace.

HR Time Management

where does the time go

HR professionals spent, on average, 11 hours each week on payroll, according to our survey. If an office has a typical eight-hour workday, that’s nearly a full day and a half spent working on payroll every single week. While nearly two-thirds of small businesses across the U.S. do their payroll in-house (largely in an attempt to save money), some reports indicate automating the payroll process can save businesses up to 4 percent of their annual payroll expenses.

HR professionals also said they spent an average of eight hours each week (a full workday for most businesses) focused on employee training. As with automated payroll, businesses can save money on training costs by employing outside companies to develop a plan for their office. Outsourcing may also provide the opportunity to bring in experts to help train staff.

We also found participants spent more than six hours a week on recruiting and interviewing, as well as resolving employee disputes.

Acknowledging Improvement

improvement needed

HR professionals next identified the areas within their departments that needed improvement.

More than 1 in 5 survey respondents said they didn’t believe recruitment and interviewing was as efficient and effective as possible. Employing outside companies to help staff businesses may not only save money but also increase the quality of candidates in the job queue. In conjunction with hiring managers and human resources, outsourcing recruitment can contribute to making HR professionals more efficient and saving them time.

Additionally, nearly 12 percent of respondents said they didn’t believe employee requests were being handled fairly and promptly or that employees were getting the training and development they needed (nearly 11 percent).

What’s Bugging HR?

cause and effect

When it came to recruitment and interviewing issues, the most common reason behind respondents’ concerns was having too much responsibility and not enough help. A majority of participants also said they felt they didn’t have the right technology or tools to get the job done properly.

When it came to issues surrounding employee benefits, HR professionals said the main problem was that the technology or software they currently used was often defective and unreliable. Technology was also a primary concern when it came to late payroll – with most HR employees telling us they either didn’t have the right tools to get the payroll submitted at a reasonable time or that the software they currently used wasn’t efficient enough.

Their Own Worst Critics

worst critics

Next, we asked respondents to rate various aspects of their HR departments.

When asked about the quality of their HR departments as a whole – on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being very good – more than half rated their department a 4. An additional 1 in 4 people polled rated their own department as a perfect five. It’s worth noting no one surveyed gave his or her department a one.

When we asked how well they thought they were doing at their job, more than 1 in 10 people gave themselves a 3 and were less likely to give themselves a 5 out of 5 when rating their departments as a whole. However, nearly 10 percent of people gave their bosses a 2 when asked how well they performed as an HR professional.

Getting Back to the Work You Do Best

Overall, HR professionals surveyed knew they could be more efficient (and successful) at their job, but in many cases the missing ingredients were time, help, and updated technology.

Paychex can help your HR department meet these challenges by giving you more of what you value most – your time and talent. With solutions for some of the most time-consuming tasks like online payroll, hiring and applicant tracking, and employee benefits, you can also extend your department by working directly with a Paychex HR professional. Visit for more information on how our services can help elevate your business today.


In order to establish accurate means at a power value of .8 and a significance criterion of .05, Paychex sampled 93 HR professionals in June 2017 regarding their job duties. This estimation comes from the 1992 paper, A Power Primer by Jacob Cohen. Respondents were asked about key efficiencies, inefficiencies, time-wasters, shortcomings, and task responsibility.


This website contains articles posted for informational and educational value. Paychex is not responsible for information contained within any of these materials. Any opinions expressed within materials are not necessarily the opinion of, or supported by, Paychex. The information in these materials should not be considered legal or accounting advice, and it should not substitute for legal, accounting, and other professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant.
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