The 10 Things Holding Your HR Department Back

HR departments are responsible for hiring and maintaining the best possible workforce, but if your department isn’t functioning properly, it can lead to chaos. With an inefficient or ineffective HR department, you’ll have trouble hiring the right candidates, your employee retention rates could suffer, and in a worst-case scenario, you might face a higher likelihood of an employee lawsuit.

So what are the factors that typically hold HR departments back? And what steps can you take to improve it?

What’s Holding Your HR Department Back?

Let’s take a look at some of the most common factors holding HR departments back from performing their best:

  1. Access to HR analytics. According to datapine, workforce analytics are one of the most crucial elements of any successful HR department. With HR-related analytics, you’ll be able to quantitatively analyze your performance. You’ll be able to see if your employee retention rate drops, or if you’re taking too long to hire new candidates. You’ll be able to measure things like employee morale and engagement, and take action proactively whenever you see these metrics start to drop. Unfortunately, if you’re not measuring the right things, or if you’re not using the right HR dashboard, you won’t have access to these data, and you won’t be able to make the best decisions for your company. Correct this by investing in more reliable, easier-to-use HR analytics tools.
  2. Poor leadership. Your department might also be suffering from poor leadership, whether that’s because you don’t have a leader overseeing it, or because your existing leader isn’t doing the best job. Good HR leaders set the tone for the entire department; they’re willing to set goals and work with individuals on their team, and are constantly setting and refining expectations. With a strong leader in place, any HR department will stand a much better chance of accomplishing their group goals.
  1. Lack of manpower or resources. It’s also possible that your HR department is unable to do the best job because of a lack of manpower or resources. If you only have a handful of people working in it, and a workload that’s oppressively large, your team will obviously be unable to work efficiently. You could also suffer from a lack of access to the right tools. Hiring part-time workers or contractors from platforms like can help you alleviate at least some of this burden.
  2. Lack of documentation. To be effective, HR departments need to have consistent documentation. They need to document practically every interaction they have with employees, including hiring and onboarding as well as individual meetings throughout the duration of their employment as well as exit interviews. This documentation is vital for resolving disputes (especially legal matters), and it also provides evidence that can be used to review previous actions and decisions. If it isn’t actively documenting everything, you have a problem.
  3. Lack of consistency. They should also operate as consistently as possible. They should be applying the same rules and the same forms of discipline to every member of the organization, and should be hiring and onboarding people in repeatable, consistent ways. This level of consistency helps ensure everyone is treated fairly. It’s also a great way to gauge which systems and processes need to be improved.
  4. No employee empowerment. Employees should be able to rely on HR departments for resolving tough conflicts or answering hard questions, but they should also be self-sufficient for easy questions and low-hanging fruit. They are therefore more efficient and more responsible when they encourage this employee empowerment; provide employees with training and education, and give them employee handbooks (or other types of documents) that can answer their questions immediately.
  5. Rushed hires. One of the biggest mistakes made by HR departments is rushing to hire people as quickly as possible. Obviously, open positions should be filled as quickly as possible; each day the position is unfilled is lost efficiency for the business. However, it’s also a bad idea to fill the position just for the sake of filling the position. While your HR department should feel some pressure to work quickly, it should also prioritize hiring the right candidate for every position—even if it means waiting a bit longer to get the position filled.
  6. Minimal onboarding and training. Choosing the right candidate is only part of the process, of course. HR departments can also operate more effectively and build a better workforce by providing new hires with proper onboarding and training. Too many of them completely neglect this phase of the process, bringing new employees into the workforce and simply assuming they’re going to find a way to make it work. It’s much better to guide new hires through their first few days and weeks, empowering them to give their best performance.
  7. Ineffective goals. Does your HR department have goals? If not, or if those goals are somehow ineffective, it could compromise the performance of the entire department. These goals should exist at both the collective and individual level; for example, the entire department should be working together to improve their collaborative efficiency, while each member has individual objectives to try and achieve in their own work.
  8. No feedback loop. HR departments can’t perform their best unless there’s some kind of feedback loop in place. The employees should be willing to speak up about inefficiencies they see or processes that can be improved. Your leaders and supervisors should be talking to employees about ways they can improve their work. Your other employees should have a chance to talk openly about their experience with recruiting, onboarding, and training. Only through feedback can you learn which areas need to be improved.

Improving an HR Department

Improving an entire department in your organization can be a lot of work, especially if you aren’t sure where to start. Take it one step at a time, making investments and upgrades wherever you can and letting the department evolve gradually. One of the best steps you can take is installing a competent, passionate leader within the department; under their guidance and direction, you can incorporate more changes at a faster rate (and with a higher success rate).