HR Operations: The Business Essential

By Rachael Knappier
15 May 2024

Running a business of any size can feel like a rollercoaster at times. One week, profitability is up, your staff look engaged, and things look good. The next, deadlines are being missed, staff are off sick or leaving and it's all doom and gloom.

Managing things like employee turnover, employee retention and job performance can often make you feel like you're a HR operations specialist. In fact, it might pay to be one.

What many employers don't understand is how important HR operations are when it comes to empowering and retaining staff, reducing absence and ultimately maximising output to improve profitability.

In this article, I'll explain the crucial role HR operations play and share some quick tips you can adapt to your business.

Of course, if you need immediate support with your employee turnover rates or workforce planning then get in touch with Croner's expert team today.

List of HR functions including staff turnover, new hires, employees and training

What is HR Operations?

Attracting and retaining talent in your business plays a crucial role in your continued growth and success. High employee turnover can be off-putting to potential new hires.

In your workplace, a HR operations manager or your HR department is pivotal in ensuring your business supports employees through the complete employee cycle.

Human Resources Operations, also known as HR Ops, ensure correct operating procedures and oversee your team's day to day tasks. The remit of the department is wide, incorporating things like:

  • Administration
  • Implementing HR policies
  • Compliance
  • Recruitment
  • Onboarding
  • Employee relations
  • Offboarding

The main role of HR operations is to develop a people strategy within your organisation to ensure that you maximise employee’s performance, improve employee turnover rate and keep employees engaged.

Employee turnover resolved by HR Operations professional

What makes a good HR operations manager?

Whether you employ a HR Operations specialist or broaden the remit of your human resources department, there are several performance metrics when it comes to HR ops.

The best HR Operations leaders typically excel in communication and administrative duties along with strong leadership. An HR operations leader would typically handle proactive as well as reactive HR challenges and it is key to get it right.

Effective HR Operation helps your organisation build strong relationships with your staff. Poor management can lead to demotivated staff or even worse, losing top talent. Let's now discuss the main issues businesses face when it comes to employees.

Business improves HR operations to slow employee turnover

Managing employee turnover rates

It's happened to almost business owner. Losing that gem of an employee who always seemed content working in the business. Whilst losing one or two employees is completely normal, a significant employee turnover rate can be an indication of a deeper problem.

Looking holistically at your employee experience can be beneficial. Ask yourself, how good is my employee engagement? Why am I losing employees? The answers may well mean you need to support managers or identify areas for improvement.

If unchecked, this can cause a knock-on effect on workmates in the form of low morale or engagement and ultimately lead to poor performance or even worse, subsequent resignations.

Business moves from HR generalist to Operations specialist

The main reasons for an employee leaving your business typically fall into one of the following reasons:

Career advancement

Effective HR management and open communication with your staff is essential here. Your employees want to understand their career path. Use HR operations to set out clear career steps to avoid the dreaded high turnover rates that can plague an organisation. Ensure that regular meetings are held in the form of staff appraisals to make ensure employees are provided with (and able to offer) regular feedback.


As well as functioning as a great performance management tool, your staff appraisals can be used as a guide for both you and your employee when it comes to salary. Your HR Operations should cover salary benchmarking and any provides the base information for promotions, pay increases and other benefits.

When done correctly, it should form part of an effective performance management system. This will help you measure the progress of your staff and can be used as a key indicator for employees, giving them a clear understanding of what they need to achieve to get progression, enhanced salaries and compensation packages.


Relocation can be a challenge for HR Operations. Sometimes relocation is unavoidable. That doesn’t mean managing the transition of key employees to a new workplace is any less complex.

To ensure you don’t open yourself up to claims of unfair or constructive dismissal, your HR Operations need to know your employees’ rights. Having a mobility clause in a contract of employment might be one answer. Ensuring that you communicate any changes with your employees is also key.

Work-life balance

As for work-life balance, again there are some steps you can take to avoid losing a staff member who wants to work with different arrangements. In short, changes to working times, set out in contracts or remote working arrangements following documented conversations could prevent you from losing that gem. Make sure that your HR Operations circulate your policy on flexible working.

Leaving a work environment with a poor culture/toxic environment

A toxic environment or poor culture can be a longer issue to resolve but in short, feedback is key. Conduct exit interviews or regular anonymous surveys can be effective in catching the issues early and addressing them. Ensure you are covering as many areas as possible with your questions presented to employees. Here are some useful topics to include in your questioning:

  • General working environment.
  • Management support.
  • Pay & Benefits.
  • Open-ended questions (Open floor for comments & feedback).

Once feedback is received, this should be collated, discussed internally and implemented (within reason) into business operations through discussions with staff. It should also be reflected in contracts & handbooks to ensure feedback is heard and used to enhance your employees' working environment and improve employee performance.

Should HR monitor staff performance and absences?

In order to improve employee performance you first need to measure employee performance. Not only does transparency help to tackle employee turnover, it also means your business needs and company goals can be openly discussed.

Administrative tasks fall into the remit of HR professionals and form part of the role of HR operations. So, in short, yes. Your HR ops team need to support or manage things like staff performance and absences.

a lady with her thumbs in the air


To keep your business functioning at full capacity you need your employees at work. It’s that simple. And yet, organisations across the UK are constantly grappling with poor attendance, difficult leave requests, absenteeism, presenteeism, and high employee turnover.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are methods of taking control and reducing whatever type of leave is troubling your business. Typically, staff absence occurs for the following reasons:

  • Minor or major illnesses.
  • Family issues.
  • Commuting issues (typically getting to and from work)
  • Workplace bullying or harassment.
  • Mental health issues.
  • Pre-approved annual leave.
  • Team and management problems.

Your HR Operations should be on hand to identify patterns of absence and look at any underlying reasons. There should also be return to work interviews and absence management plans.

four people sitting at a table

Measure employee performance

As discussed previously, one way to increase employee retention is to make sure that you performance review all staff. Broadly speaking, this is part of your talent management strategy.

Performance reviews give your HR ops team valuable time with employees to look at what the employee needs, address any under performance and outline any required tasks.

What are the key responsibilities of HR Operations?

The scope of your HR operations team will vary depending on the number of employees in your business. Either the team will focus on specific areas of your business, or they may take more of a HR generalist approach. Regardless, all HR operations teams have the following responsibilities:


Your HR Operations team is responsible for performing a range of administrative functions to suit your business needs. The tasks will vary from business to business but may involve things like payroll management, data entry, and keeping information systems up-to-date.

HR Operations teams also look after things like employee contracts, personal data, and any NDAs.

HR Block

Implementing HR policies

Whether it’s a sporting events policy, social media policy, data protection policy or more, your HR Operations team are vital in policy implementation. A good team will understand the importance of clear contractual terms and policies and see the benefits of regularly updating company documents.

It is important that you understand policies that must be used, and those that are a very good idea to have.


One of the most essential tasks for any HR Operations department is to ensure that your business is compliant. This means staying abreast of any legislative changes and adapting where necessary.

If your HR Operations team are tasked with things like hiring, workplace conduct policy, employee retention, new employees, and staff engagement, you must ensure that they are legally compliant when doing so. All HR compliance policies will come from your HR Operations team.


If you run a business with your own recruitment team then HR Operations will play a role in planning. The key here is to look at your resource requirements. Too many people is a waste of resources so your team need to balance a well-run business with the requests of your internal teams.

For smaller organisations, HR Operations handle everything from job advertising, candidate screening, interviewing and job offers.


Onboarding is a fantastic was to lower employee turnover rates. If employees are provided with a positive onboarding experience, they are far more like to stay in a company for longer.

HR Operations develops your onboarding structure which can be reviewed on an annual basis. Onboarding processes vary widely from business to business depending on your specific needs, but every new employee should be properly onboarded.

Employee relations

Staff turnover can be managed by strong working relationships. Employee relations is a key focus for your HR team. HR Operations emphasises prevention and resolution of issues in your business between colleagues and management.

Employee relations is also about helping staff understand their own performance. Your team needs to concentrate on understanding how employees feel about the company culture, environment, job description and overall wellbeing.


From time to time, employees resign. Employees leaving is part and parcel of running a business. As long as you’ve done as much as possible to promote staff retention then when an employee decides to leave or is dismissed, your HR ops team can perform the administrative tasks around offboarding.

The tasks include things like ensuring the employee returns company property, notifying IT and payroll about personnel changes, and preparing any paperwork the employee might need to sign. This may include restrictive covenants.

Offboarding, when done correctly, also means doing exit interviews to obtain feedback from the person departing the business on how to create a better work environment and employee experience for the current and future employees.

Speak to an expert

If you’d like more advice on how you can improve your HR Operations, speak to one of our HR professionals.

Croner has a team of award-winning HR consultants who are specialists in their field. We've been helping businesses for over 80 years and our advice line is open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. Why not speak to a Croner expert on  0800 470 2827


About the Author

Experienced Director Of Services with a demonstrated history of working in the management consulting industry. Skilled in Negotiation, Operations Management, Sales, Management, and Business Process Improvement. Strong operations professional with a Bachelor of social science with honours focused in Criminology and history from Kingston University.