Why HR Shared Services fail

HR Shared Services

Businesses use shared services to streamline HR activities, concentrating transactional activities into a centralised function. This model can reduce costs and increase the efficiency of processes within the business, whilst freeing up time for a greater focus on strategy.

HR Shared Service functions can add a lot of value, but if you get it wrong it can have a huge consequence. Employee experience is ruined and relationships throughout the business with HR can be damaged. But why does it fail?

You haven’t engaged the business in the change

When you implement an HR Shared Service Centre (HRSSC), there are two groups of people who need to be communicated with and engaged: the people working there and those who will be using it. Both of these groups are equally important. You need to take your customers on the journey with you, so they understand how and why you’re changing things. If either of these groups isn’t engaged, the HRSSC simply won’t work.

You don’t use analytics to measure success and continuously improve

It is crucial to establish the right metrics to analyse. This allows you to monitor data to see how your teams are performing and highlight current inefficiencies, as well as potential problem areas that may need investigation.

Measuring results and data enables informed decisions to be made that drive your HRSSC to continually develop and run better. This gives your HR teams the resources they need to be successful, provides employees with a better experience and ultimately gets the business results you want.

You have rushed it

Delivering an HRSSC into a business takes time. It isn’t something you can decide to do and then implement within 2 weeks and you can’t do it half-heartedly. There are a lot of things to consider – from mapping out processes and ensuring you have the right technology, right down to hiring and onboarding the right talent. If you rush any areas or don’t give them the focus they need, the chances are they will fail.

Poor leadership

Having the right leader is important for any team, but particularly in a shared service environment. The wrong leader can create an unhappy, disengaged team who lose their passion for delivering excellence. When this happens, the knock-on effect across the business can be immense.

A good shared service leader should be able to look beyond the HRSSC and take into account the impact it has on employees, as well as customers and clients.

You don’t have the right technology

Technology is a fundamental component of any HRSSC – without the right technology, it just won’t work. It’s really important that you check your current HR system is fit for purpose – and if it's not, fix it!

HR tech is a big investment, so make sure you choose the right one. Meet multiple vendors, get demonstrations – and challenge them, to make sure the system does everything you need it to. Modern technology allows HR to manage incoming requests, review case histories and related employee files, provide consistent responses and escalate a case when necessary.

You would be amazed at how often people miss out one of the key elements to ensure their HR Shared Service Centre is a success. Make sure you’re not one of them!

For all things, HR Shared Services, change and transformation and if you would like to feature in our ‘Insiders Story’ blog, email me on

You can view more about Kate Wass our HR Shared Services specialist here.

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