HR Operations: The Essential Guide

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HR Operations is an indispensable part of every HR department. What exactly does HR operations do, what are their key responsibilities and main goals? Let’s dive in.

Contents
What is HR Operations?
Key responsibilities of HR Operations
The main goals of HR Operations
HR operations manager role

What is HR Operations?

A has Microsoft study found that 41% of the global workforce “is likely to consider leaving their current employer within the next year”. With the ever-changing economy and labor market we live in, HR Operations has never been more necessary to the success of your organization. 

Human Resources Operations, also known as HR Ops, is the department that supports the entire employee lifecycle and assists your team in their day-to-day tasks. The scope of HR Operations is multi-faceted. It plays a crucial role in developing a company’s people strategy to reach its business goals. HR Operations is a part of an effective HR service delivery model.

HR Operations - Responsibilities and Goals

Key responsibilities of HR Operations

Depending on the size of your organization, the HR Operations teams could look very different. They can focus on specific regions/segments of the business or have a generalist approach. In either case, they have the following responsibilities:

  • Administration: The HR Operations team is responsible for many administrative tasks that keep the business running. These tasks include payroll management, staff data entry, and maintenance. They are also responsible for maintaining the human resources information system – also known as HRIS. This program is used to track and maintain all HR-related data, such as employee contracts, non-disclosure agreements, compensation, employees’ personal data, and more. 
  • Compliance: Compliance is one of the most important tasks your HR Operations department is responsible for. They make sure that, legally, your organization is aligned with country-specific labor laws when tasked with things such as hiring, workplace rules, and employee treatment. HR Operations outlines the HR compliance policies that need to be followed internally.  
  • Recruitment: If your organization is large enough to have a recruiting team, HR Operations will focus on headcount planning. That is, making sure there are enough people in the organization so that the business runs well, but not too many people that you waste resources. If you have a smaller organization and no dedicated recruitment team, HR operations will pick up everything from advertising, interviewing, and making job offers to candidates.
  • Onboarding: OfficeVibe’s Employee Engagement report found that 69% of employees are more likely to stay with their company for at least three years if they experienced great onboarding. HR Operations develops a structured onboarding program. They support managers in delivering a positive onboarding experience to their new team members.
  • Employee Relations (ER): Employee relations refer to a company’s efforts to manage relationships in an organization. HR Ops focuses on preventing and resolving issues between coworkers and management. They also concentrate on understanding how your staff feels about their job, company environment, and overall well-being.  
  • Offboarding: Offboarding happens when an employee has either decided to leave the company or was fired. It involves administrative tasks like ensuring the employee returns company property, notifying IT and payroll about personnel changes, and preparing any paperwork the employee might need to sign. Offboarding also involves exit interviews, which are conversations between the employee, manager/HR, and the leadership team. During this chat, HR Operations is looking for feedback from the leaving team member on how to create a better work environment and employee experience for the current and future employees. 

The main goals of HR Operations

The HR Operations department has several vital goals they’re trying to meet in their organization. Here are the three most important ones.

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  1. Building a sustainable organization: Your company will only thrive when you have a sustainable growth plan. HR Operations’ goal is to ensure that your organization has a headcount strategy, succession plans for leadership roles, internal talent development goals, and career management. Without these strategies, your company cannot adapt quickly to external or internal changes.
  2. Working on improving employee relations: When employees have strong, supportive relationships with their coworkers and managers, the entire company benefits. Numerous studies show that happy employees are more productive and will stay with your organization longer. The goal of employee relations is just that – to make sure your staff works in an environment where they can thrive and will have support if any issues pop up between coworkers. HR Ops goes about this by creating clarity for employees with what is expected of them and how to work within the company’s structure. They might also be present during performance reviews and feedback sessions, among other things.
  3. Implementing and maintaining HR best practices: In short, HR best practices are universal processes and techniques that provide organizations with increased business performance results, regardless of the company’s industry. HR Ops is responsible for implementing and monitoring HR best practices in different departments of your organization. That way, they’re ensuring that the company is on track to achieve its goals.

HR operations manager role

If you are looking to build out or even create an HR Operations team in your organization, a great place to start is with the HR Operations Manager. In your company, this person will be the main point of contact for any HR or recruitment-related questions. It will also be the principal person in charge of implementing and monitoring HR policies within your organization. 

Additionally, they should review and approve budgets, maintain the HRIS system, and monitor HR Analytics to ensure HR projects are within budget and contribute to a positive work environment. HR Operations Managers may also oversee a team of HR Ops Specialists who focus more on the day-to-day tasks.

Additional tasks include: 

  • Responsibility for supporting the organization with administrative tasks for onboarding, contracting, and talent management.
  • Ensuring your business satisfies local and international employment laws.
  • Keeping themselves informed about local employment legislation changes and updating the business accordingly.
  • Working to manage and improve HR Operations workflows that support the team and the broader organization.
  • Making recommendations to improve HR Ops technology to automate processes which in turn minimize administrative overhead.
  • Ensuring the integrity of HR data.
  • Participating in additional HR Ops-related projects.

HR operations manager skills and qualifications

  • The candidate should have 6+ years of working experience in HR Operations with responsibilities around recruiting, employee relations, performance management, compensation, benefits admin, and compliance. This person will be the business’s point of contact and support leadership in all these areas, so they should be pretty experienced. 
  • They should have a solid working knowledge of country/state employment law. This is a non-negotiable when hiring for this role. When your company is not compliant with HR-related regulations, this can get your organization in a lot of legal trouble. 
  • The potential new employee should have experience with an HRIS and related HR analytics. Human resources information systems do similar things, so it doesn’t matter which HRIS they have used. However, they should know how to use it properly, how to maintain it, and gather the correct data to make data-driven HR decisions. 
  • The right candidate should also have the ability to create positive working relationships with team members at all levels. After all, HR Ops is responsible for supporting your employees’ growth and mitigating potential disagreements on all levels. Therefore, it’s imperative they understand the importance of creating good working relationships.

HR operations vs HR generalist

As a department, Human Resources is quite broad and has many different roles and responsibilities. Therefore, it is easy for people to get a bit confused about who is responsible for what. You may already have an HR Generalist in your company – typically, they are the first HR hire an organization makes. They have a lot of various responsibilities and cover many HR functions such as HR administration, recruiting, compensation, and benefits, among other tasks.  

Many of these tasks sound similar to the responsibilities HR Operations would also cover. However, the main difference is that HR Ops is also a strategic role. So, for example, they look at improving HR workflows and implementing new technologies to minimize their administrative workload, whereas HR Generalists would not.  

HR operations salary

Salary ranges for HR Operations are different based on seniority level, type of organization, and where you are working. According to LinkedIn Salary, an HR Operations Specialist with 1-5 years of experience in Austin, Texas, has a median base salary of about $53,000 per year. The same role-based in San Francisco has a median base salary of $76,500 per year. An HR Ops Manager has a medium base salary in Austin, Texas of $63,300 per year. In San Francisco, the median base salary is $85,000 per year.

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Across the US, the median salary for an HR Operations Specialist is $57,800 /yr.

To conclude

No matter the size of your organization, HR operations is an integral part of your company. Not only do they support your staff’s lifecycle and assist in day-to-day tasks but, they also integrate that into a strategy to achieve your company’s business goals. 

Whether you have one HR Ops Manager or a dedicated HR Ops team, these team members will support your company through an HR Operations strategy. This includes building a sustainable organization, improving employee relations, and implementing and maintaining HR best practices – all while strategically optimizing workflows and implementing new technology to support the Human Resources department and broader team.

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