HR specialist Shawn Fitzgerald’s ears perked up when he heard his managers moan about how difficult it was to determine whether new ideas would be cost effective. Maybe HR could help — and earn some respect as a valued contributor.
In our HR operation, we work hard to become strategic partners with other departments. That’s our buzz-terminology for “proving we’re worth every cent you pay us – and more.”
So our ears perked up when supervisors told us how much difficulty they were having trying to determine whether new ideas and projects were cost-effective. Figuring out the actual costs was driving some of them nuts.
That’s where HR stepped in. Here’s how:
As any Finance person knows – including ours – one of the biggest, if not the biggest, expenses is people. The more you have to hire, the more it costs in recruiting expenditures and pay and benefits.
So, when any new idea is proposed, the first consideration is how many people we’ll have to hire to do the job right.
- The old way we figured it out: The supervisor made a best guess at the personnel needs. Then HR did a ballpark figure on annual pay and benefits for the new hires. Finance looked at the total and made a decision about whether it was a go or no-go.
- The new way: We asked the supervisor to lay out a range of personnel options for the project. In other words, provide a range that goes from “if you could have all the people you need” to “getting by with a bare-bones operation.”
Sometimes there were several options within the range. Other times there were only two, such as “full blown” and “quick fix.” That was OK with us, just so long as we knew what we were dealing with and what the supervisor could live with.
A full picture
With that information, we put together a range of people costs that matched the range of options the supervisor had indicated. Plus, we added a cost that hadn’t been used: on average, how much time and money it took to recruit each new body required by the options.
That provides more solid data about cost. And if there’s one thing we’ve learned, decision makers like clear pictures of cost.
Our supervisors and Finance people love the information we give them and say it’s invaluable for making decisions about how to approach a project – or whether to go with it at all.
And the information puts HR in a key position of value to the organization. In other words, we prove we’re worth every cent.
(By Shawn Fitzgerald, HR specialist, Chicago)