Current State

In Talent Management, annual performance reviews are considered archaic and on their way out. In Learning & Development, hardly anyone still relies solely on in-person, instructor-led classrooms. However, in core HR, there aren’t many processes most organizations can point to as outdatedor ineffective, although research shows that there are some HR processes that, for one reason or another, are no longer effective.


Unlike the improvement of the more strategic aspects of HR, removing ineffective ones isn’t a matter of taking a more holistic view, but focusing on activities that only affect HR itself — operational and maintenance activities. This can prove difficult because most of these processes are so built into HR’s legacy that it can be challenging to pinpoint when those processes began, or why. Many organizations are also reluctant to eliminate jobs or tasks for fear of disrupting a system that seems to be functioning fine — an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. While this mindset may be admirable in some situations, finding ineffective HR processes is not about fixing something that is broken, it is about reallocating resources to create a more effective service group for internal and external customers.


The results of fine-tuning the HR engine are manifold. Internally, this will create an HR department that is seen as more strategic and aligned with business goals and externally, one that produced a more ready and willing workforce.

Brandon Hall Group research usually focuses on processes that represent best practices at top-performing organizations, but in examining the practices of lower performers, among the practices least-common among high-performers, we can correlate sub-optimized HR activities into two distinct groups: HR processes that are solely concerned with efficiency (not effectiveness) and those that are only meant to justify HR’s existence.

What Are the Most Important Opportunities for Service to Fulfill?

Critical Question

For an organization to determine which HR processes have been rendered useless in achieving overall business results, they must first ensure their HR activities are aligned with the strategic goals of the organization. Questions organizations should address include:

• Which HR services see the least use from internal customers outside of the HR department?

• In the dashboards and overall reports provided to senior leadership, which HR activities are never represented?

• What constraints — in terms of time, budget or other resources — does your HR group work within?

• What will be the effects of removing targeted HR processes to the HR team and the organization as a whole?

• Can you evaluate the ROI of removing a certain HR process as opposed to modifying it?

Brandon Hall Group POV

The processes and procedures HR has as part of its day-to-day work are often handed down over time and no longer reflect more dynamic and modern business models. Like any other department, HR must conduct periodic internal audits to determine which are redundant processes from older compliance regulations, outdated business models and now-disproven social science theories.

Creating change within a long-standing set of processes and activities is difficult, so organizations must approach the evaluation and possible reformation of their HR processes with a formal plan. That plan should include:

• Evaluation of the current overall business strategy

• Alignment between each HR process and the overall business strategy

• Goals and objectives
Calculation of the strategic value of the new or reformed HR process
Metric to determine the ongoing effectiveness of the removal or replacement of the HR process

• Formal review process to adjust or revert to older processes as needed

Many HR processes are holdovers from a time when HR had to justify its budget. This often means there are some redundant or repetitious elements in many HR departments, regardless of industry or organizational size. Metrics such as usage rates or help-desk tickets filled or number of HR staff per FTE are examples of a different, older way of evaluating efficiency over effectiveness. Top-performing organizations no longer need HR to prove its worth or give them a “seat at the table.” That has already happened. However, many HR departments still perform activities that do not contribute to overall business objectives. Eliminating those processes or shifting them into more strategic initiatives will go a long way toward helping the overall organization in addition to HR itself.


Brandon Hall Group Strategy Briefs answer the critical questions learning, talent, HR and business leaders must address to manage their human capital. To tackle these critical questions in more detail, we built tools, frameworks, research summaries and business builders based on up-to-date research and case studies for you to implement best and next Human Capital Management (HCM) practices. To gain access to these valuable resources, contact

Leading minds in HCM choose Brandon Hall Group to help them build future-proof employee-development plans for the new era. For more than 27 years, we have empowered, recognized and certified excellence in organizations around the world, influencing the development of over 10,000,000 associates and executives.