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How HR needs to learn from Netflix

CEOs of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are losing a fifth of their working week to HR activities, leading to many becoming unfocussed on business strategy and the ongoing growth of the company, according to new research. A report from HR software platform breatheHR has urged bosses to embrace the ‘Netflix’ approach as they risk weakening their business by prioritising busywork.

Employers are wasting a whole day a week on the organisation of their own company, potentially costing companies around £18,700 a year. HR tasks that don’t directly affect the business can have a noticeable impact on how a CEO is able to control and guide their company into a successful future, according to breatheHR, who are encouraging bosses to give more HR powers to office or operations manager to save money, time, and give encourage more faith in staff.

“Holiday requests pile up in a CEOs inbox, HR increasingly becomes seen as a box-ticking exercise, therefore undermining the positive impact a strong HR strategy, closely aligned to business ambitions, can have,” said Jonathan Richards, breatheHR CEO.

“Just look at Netflix. It’s pioneered several new approaches that have broken the mould, all tied to its ‘freedom and responsibility’ ethos that trusts people to make reasonable judgements about their working lives. The result? Netflix has disrupted an entire industry from the ground up and is seen as a beacon of innovation.”

BreatheHR believe having a CEO take the time to review administrative jobs such as holiday requests and absence sheets don’t have any value for furthering the company, and delegating tasks to other staff members means preventing a work pile-up while dealing with tedious admin. Investing in HR technology could also offer a saving grace for small businesses, according to the report, which revealed that small British businesses could save around five weeks a year through automation. Not only does it free up time for employees to work on different projects, it’s also been seen to boost focus in staff who don’t need to spend time being bored.

“No one gives you a magic book that tells you how to run a company so when we first started I thought I was adding value by doing a lot of the HR admin tasks and that people would value it; I’d be the ‘cool’ CEO,” said Robert May, CEO of IT solutions company Ramsac. “Without any systems to support things like holiday and sickness I found myself in a leadership trap, I wanted to get away but I couldn’t. A bit like the Godfather, ‘just when I thought I was out they pull me back in’.

“I was constantly being dragged back to administrative tasks when I needed to be leading the business.”

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