To no one’s surprise, research shows that HR teams who promote a more supportive, committed, and motivational culture experience far better outcomes. In fact, a KPMG International study revealed that:
- Highly committed teams are 21% more efficient,
- Motivated teams have 41% less absenteeism, and
- The majority of employees are more efficient when their efforts are appreciated.
So, how can you attain these same statistics for your organization? The key is to create an HR team structure that promotes efficiency and effectiveness; one that allows your team to work collaboratively towards common goals, while also providing the necessary support and resources.
In this article, we will explore some of the best ways to structure your HR team for maximum efficiency. Let’s get started!
Healthy HR teams: what do they look like?
If you are part of a company’s Human Resources department, you’ll know that a significant part of your role involves keeping things running smoothly and supporting the wellbeing of your company’s employees. But how, then, does the HR team support itself?
In restructuring your HR team for maximum efficiency, you need to ensure that your team is healthy. What do we mean by this?
A healthy HR team is cohesive and supportive of one another, with each individual understanding their role within the team and working collaboratively towards the department’s goals.
The team is also well-informed, with each member up to date on changes to employment law, company policies and procedures, and the latest news affecting the workplace.
Additionally, a healthy HR team is proactive in looking for ways to improve their processes and make their department more efficient. They are constantly reviewing their systems to ensure that they are working as effectively as possible and looking for new ways to streamline their work.
So, how can you ensure that your HR team so that it functions in this way? The first step is making sure that you have the right structure in place for your team’s specific needs and characteristics. Let’s take a look at some of the most efficient models.
HR structures: three maximum-efficiency models
As with any team or department, the HR department functions at its best when it is based on an intentional model or structure. This is due in part to the nature of HR work; there are a number of different activities that need to be coordinated in order to deliver an effective HR service, and if any are neglected, the whole department suffers.
When it comes to HR structuring, your options are far from limited. Here are three of the most common models in use today:
Companies who are looking for a more traditional HR structure often adopt a hierarchy model.
In this type of setup, the HR director is at the top of the pyramid, and reports to the CEO or COO. Underneath the HR director are managers who oversee specific areas of HR such as recruitment, payroll, and employee benefits. Finally, there are team leads who manage the day-to-day operations of the HR department.
The hierarchy model is popular among larger companies who have the resources to support a dedicated HR team. It also allows for a great deal of specialization, which can be beneficial when there are many types of HR work to be done.
However, this type of structure can also be slow to respond to change, and it can be difficult for team members at the bottom of the pyramid to make decisions without approval from those at the top.
Hierarchical models have been used successfully by many organizations for many years, but if this is the model you choose, it’s important to avoid the following common pitfalls:
- Not empowering team members at the bottom of the pyramid
- Having too many levels, which can lead to communication breakdowns
- Creating a “command and control” environment that stifles creativity and innovation
Hierarchy can easily lead to control-based decision-making, so it is key to have defined roles with decision-making abilities delegated to the appropriate levels.
Using a flat structure is the polar opposite of hierarchical management, as it has no management layers. Employees are organized into teams and report to a team leader, who in turn reports to a senior manager. This structure is popular with small businesses, as it promotes communication and collaboration between employees.
Flat structures are an excellent way to encourage employees in their contributions and to nurture creativity and innovation. For example, if an employee has an idea for a new process or system, they are more likely to be able to implement it if they are part of the team that makes decisions about such things.
The main disadvantage of flat structures is that they can be difficult to scale up as the company grows. As the number of employees increases, so does the need for more managers to oversee the team. This can lead to communication problems and a lack of clarity about who is responsible for what.
In order to maximize efficiency with a flat structure, HR managers need to avoid the following:
- Micromanaging. The point of a flat structure is to give employees a sense of ownership and responsibility for their work. If managers are constantly interfering and dictating how tasks should be done, this will undermine the team’s autonomy.
- Creating silos. With no management layers, it’s important that all employees feel like they are on the same team. If certain teams or departments start to act like they are superior to others, this will lead to division and conflict.
The matrix structure is a convenient crossover between hierarchical and flat structures. Employees are organized into teams, which work together on specific projects or tasks. However, unlike in a flat structure, team members have a clear reporting line to a manager who is responsible for their overall performance.
This type of structure is often used when an organization wants the benefits of both hierarchies and flatter structures. It allows for more flexibility and HR team structure creativity while still providing some measure of control and oversight. The matrix structure is also well-suited to fast-paced, ever-changing environments.
With the matrix structure, there is the added benefit of having a visual representation of the reporting lines and team relationships; organizations will often create a grid with team names in one column and managers in another. This makes it easy to see who is responsible for what, and facilitates communication between team members.
In the matrix structure, HR managers need to be aware of these common pitfalls:
- Losing track of team members as they move between projects. Due to the transient and flexible nature of the matrix structure, team members can easily move in and out of projects, making it difficult to keep track of their progress.
- Not enough clarity around roles and responsibilities. This can lead to confusion and conflict, as team members compete for control or try to pass the buck when things go wrong.
- Poor communication. This is often a result of the matrix structure’s flat and hierarchical elements clashing with each other. In order to prevent information from getting bottlenecked, managers need to be sure to communicate effectively up and down the chain.
Which model is right for you?
As seen in the previous section, there are a number of HR structures you can use in your organization. However, before you go about choosing the best structure for your company, there are a few details you need to make note of:
1. The size of your HR department. Are you operating within a fairly small company with a handful of HR staff members, or do you have a larger organization with dozens of HR professionals? Making note of this will help you better understand which of the following structures will work best for you.
2. Your company’s specific needs. Not all companies are created equal, and as such, not every organization will need or want the same HR structure in place. For example, an onboarding-focused company will likely have a different structure than one with high turnover. Make sure to assess your own company’s needs before settling on a particular structure.
3. The current state of your HR department. How organized is your team currently? How much experience do they have? Do they need more or less direction from management? Taking all of this into account will help you choose a structure that’s appropriate for your current team.
HR teams are one of the driving forces of any company, as they are responsible for ensuring that employees are well taken care of. And, as research continues to show, happy employees make for a more successful company. So how do you structure your HR team for maximum efficiency?
The structures we discussed in this article are just three of the many possibilities; however, there are a number of options you can consider when it comes to structuring your HR team. You may want to consider a matrix structure, which will allow for better communication and coordination between different departments. Or, you could go with a hierarchical structure, which will give your team a clear chain of command.
No matter what structure you choose, it’s important to make sure that everyone in the HR team is on the same page. Regular meetings and communication channels are essential for ensuring that all employees are aware of their responsibilities and that they can get the help they need when they need it.
With the right structure in place, your HR team can become a powerful force for good in your company — but only if you take the time to get it right. So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your team today!