Forward Level logo

Optimizing HR Operations Slashes Costs, Improves Onboarding

Discover how we helped a Calgary non-profit with a solid HR operations strategy.

The Client

Our client was a Calgary non-profit organization with more than 100 employees. Their finance executive was responsible for oversight of HR responsibilities until an internal resource was installed. Our team was tasked to review and improve the administration of hiring/onboarding and develop and implement new processes where required.

The Challenge

This client cited cost as the primary reason for a dedicated resource to provide oversight and leadership of an HR strategy. Consequently, they opted to decentralize the responsibility for recruitment and onboarding among 15 managers. Without proper oversight or dedicated resources, this approach led to challenges. Over 18 months preceding our engagement, turnover rates soared past 80%. Managers grappled with overwhelming administrative tasks each time a new team member was hired, while those tasked with compliance documentation and payroll setup faced mounting frustrations.

The Strategy

We started our process by delving into the wealth of data stored in their HR software, which provided valuable insights into their organizational structure, various position types, and the flow of hires and departures. Following this, we engaged in meaningful conversations with members of their management team to understand what was working well, identify areas requiring support, and pinpoint opportunities for enhancing the hiring process.

These personal interactions allowed us to learn their perspectives firsthand and gain insight into the challenges they encountered. Simultaneously, we began to document their existing process, involving input from multiple individuals involved in its execution, to assess time allocation for each step and quantify the costs associated with recruiting and hiring for a vacant position.

Although the organization had a robust Human Resources Information System (HRIS) in place, it became evident that its users and managers lacked adequate training and support. Consequently, many hiring managers needed to utilize the tool's capabilities more. We found significant areas of improvement through an audit of the HRIS system data and the current hiring process. We identified redundant tasks consuming valuable time, highlighted opportunities for digitization to streamline processes, and uncovered gaps in knowledge and compliance, posing unnecessary risks to the organization.

Armed with this insight, we were excited to implement targeted solutions to optimize efficiency, mitigate risks, and empower the organization to leverage its HRIS system to its fullest potential.


Our project encompassed a range of deliverables aimed at enhancing HR operations:

1.  We conducted a thorough audit of the client's existing HR processes, systems, and data, laying the groundwork for informed recommendations. These recommendations identified areas for improvement and guided necessary revisions.

2.  We offered customized manager training sessions tailored to the organization's specific needs, focusing on empowering their team with the latest HR processes and supporting strategies.

3.  We optimized their current HR software platform to streamline operations and maximize efficiency.

4.  We provided comprehensive user training on the HR system, ensuring their team was equipped with the knowledge and skills to support ongoing process improvement efforts.

The Results

• Process improvement recommendations that could bring a 55% reduction in time and cost per hire.

• Increased confidence, understanding, and ability for managers to use the existing HR software platform.

•Manager training workshops that shared knowledge, talent strategy, risk mitigation, core HR practices, and improved processes.

•Cost savings that allowed the organization to recruit and hire an HR Generalist to join the organization as a full-time dedicated resource.

The organization's HRIS system proved to be a valuable resource, offering insights into the number of new hires made in the preceding 18 months. Through interviews with the management team, we meticulously quantified the time associated with each step of the hiring process. Leveraging salary data and time investments, we accurately determined the annual time and cost expended to hire one employee. Our proposed recommendations paved the way for a potential 55% reduction in both time and cost. This was achieved by streamlining processes, eliminating redundancies, and optimizing administrative tasks.

These recommendations encompassed maximizing the automation and functionality of their existing system, developing a more efficient and consistent hiring process, and providing comprehensive training and support to the management team.

As we calculated the compounded savings potential per hire to factor in 82% turnover (actual turnover in the 18 months prior), the executive team was pleasantly surprised by the significant cost savings (in the hundreds of thousands) realized. The client was particularly delighted to learn that the annual salary associated with hiring a full-time HR Generalist could be achieved at just one-third of the previous cost, with continued savings expected annually. Additionally, we assisted in the successful recruitment of a full-time HR Generalist, who recently celebrated their first anniversary with the organization.