The ratio of one human resource person for every 100 employees has been around for at least 20 years and is still cited as being HR gospel. But a lot has changed in 20 years, not the least of which is automation of much of the traditional HR functions.For example, staffing has always been one of the most labor-intensive HR functions—placing ads, poring over paper résumé submissions, calling to set up interviews, sending paper interview responses and offer letters, administering pre-employment tests, etc. Today, a good applicant tracking system can easily replace a majority of traditional staffing function positions. Rather than taking hours to place newspaper advertisements, an applicant tracking system (ATS) can post jobs to multiple online job boards in a matter of minutes. Résumé submissions can be automatically screened, chosen applicants can be contacted immediately by e-mail, interviews scheduled with multiple managers quickly online, pre-employment tests done by the applicants at their own computers, and onboarding packages compiled and delivered within minutes electronically. One recruiter with an ATS and a computer can easily do the work it took four people to do 20 years ago.Automation of HR functions in other areas produces similar productivity increases. Compensation and benefits functions have certainly benefited from advances in HR systems. Performance management has been automated with software that allows organizations to assign, manage and report on each employee's business objectives and results with much more limited HR involvement than 20 years ago. For better or worse, it's no longer necessary to have HR employee interaction with line managers for the 90 percent or so of traditional HR activities that are transactional in nature. Managers don't need to come to HR to review most of an employee's file—most of it is accessible online through intranets or internal computer systems. Pay increases can be proposed, approved and implemented automatically. A supervisor who is overdue on employee reviews is sent a computer-generated reminder. Training programs are delivered to employees at their convenience via computer and testing is done online.As axiomatic as "one for every 100" may once have been, today it could easily be "one for every 300" or 400 or even 500 or more given today's automation opportunities. And by automating these functions, HR is freed to focus more on consultative and development activities and produce more with fewer resources.
Technology, therefore, as well as outsourcing most of the HR services nowadays pays off on the cost reduction side includig hiring fewer HR people to serve the total number of employees in the organization. On the other hand there is nowadays less interaction with "customers" which is the essence of HR efficiency & effectiveness.