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Should We Re-Evaluate Our HR Staffing Ratio?

How valid is the old 1-to-100 ratio of human resources staffing? &#8212;<i>Keeping Up With Changing Times, HR manager, services, Raleigh, North Carolina</i>

July 17, 2012

Dear Keeping Up:

The ratio of one HR person for every 100 employees has been around for a while now. The metric is often recited as HR gospel, but a lot has changed, especially automation of many traditional HR functions.

Staffing has always been one of the most labor-intensive HR functions: placing ads, poring over paper résumé submissions, scheduling interviews, sending paper interview responses and offer letters, administering pre-employment tests, and so on.

Applicant tracking systems enable employers to post jobs to multiple online job boards in a matter of minutes. That's changed how human resources and line managers interact. Managers no longer have to go to HR to review potential applicants—most of the file is accessible through intranets or internal computer systems. Pay increases can be proposed, approved and implemented automatically. Supervisors overdue on employee reviews receive computer-generated reminders. Training programs are delivered to employees at their convenience via computer, and testing is done online.

As axiomatic as "1 for every 100" may once have been, it could easily be "1 for every 300," or even 400, 500 or more due to automation. By automating these functions, HR is free to focus more on consultative and development activities, producing more value with fewer resources.

SOURCE: Carl Norcross, management recruiter, Johns Manville Inc., Denver

LEARN MORE: The past decade of HR outsourcing has wrought many changes.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.