Human Resource Cost Analysis

Human resource cost analysis is the study of behavior of cost in relation to one or more HR criteria. Controlling manpower costs has now become important for organizations, particularly when we are required to look within for cost savings to sustain organizational growth and profitability. To enforce control on HR costs, it is essential to develop a check-list at the outset. This requires grouping of activities under different cost heads and then Identifying the individual cost elements under each head. By developing an HR costs spreadsheet, we can understand the magnitude of HR costs in an organization. Element-wise cost trend over the years facilitates regular monitoring and operational control. At the macro-level, net value added per employee is an indicator of cost efficiency.

Developing an HR Costs Checklist

HR costs checklist varies from organization to organization due to obvious differences in their practices. Here we have mentioned about those cost elements which are common in practice. .

  1. Remuneration: Remuneration costs include basic pay, dearness allowance, city compensatory allowance, house rent allowance, conveyance allowance, etc. However, these are paid remuneration costs. Organizations are also required to cater for deferred benefits to employees. Certain statutory payments to employees are also accounted under this head, like, contribution to provident fund, pension fund, medical benefits, payment for holiday, sickness, bonus, etc. To retain and attract talent, organizations may also give various fringe benefits to their employees. Even the latest practice to provide stock options to employees involves certain opportunity cost to the organization. The best practice is to delineate such cost elements and arrange the same in the form of a spread sheet. Element-wise cost trends then can be studied over the years and also can be bench-marked with other comparable organizations to understand the nature of variance and to enforce control, wherever necessary.
  2. Recruitment: Recruitment cost is also another major cost head for HR. Right from developing job specifications to describing job requirements, it includes costs of recruitment, promotion (through advertising), head hunting, evaluation, interviewing, induction and orientation. A well defined job specification minimizes the search for the right fit and consequent costs. If recruitment plans are to meet short-tern-requirements, it may be better to outsource than go in for direct recruitment. There are many specialized manpower agencies, which make people with required skill sets available on contractual terms. Similarly, internal hiring also needs to be explored vis-a-vis external hiring. Internal hiring involves restructuring and relocation costs, a clear policy on ‘promotion from within’ (wherever recruitment is made for the higher posts), etc. A detailed study on cost of hiring is necessary to explore an alternative recruitment process.
  3. Training Costs: Training costs include, cost for induction period, cost of remuneration for the trainee and trainer, cost of travel for the trainee and the trainer, if any, cost of training materials, imputed cost of machines and equipments, used during the training, cost for development of training modules, cost of training evaluation, cost of material wastage during training, if any, cost of production loss for the trainee and the trainer (if he is within the organization, for in-house training), etc. To accurately ascertain cost of training, it is necessary to develop a checklist or a worksheet, delineating all direct and indirect costs of training. There are various methods of training delivery, which we have discussed in previous posts: Different employee training & development methods. Relative benefits and costs of each such method also need to be weighed to understand the most cost-efficient system. Any training on skill renewal needs to be weighed in terms of expanded skill cycle of the trainees. If the trainees are in the higher age bracket or due to retire within a short span, then offering them voluntary retirement (VR) may be more cost effective than putting them on training for skill renewal and skill change.
  4. Relocation Costs: Many organizations have their policies on periodic relocation of employees as part of their restructuring exercise. This is more appropriate for those who have their units in multiple locations. Such decisions from organizational point of view, involve cost related to disturbance allowance, cost of possible litigation, cost of housing, cost of travel, etc. Many departmental undertakings and public sector units thoughtlessly relocate their employees adding costs to the exchequer. Hence relocation decisions must be cost effective or else this will defeat the purpose, straining organizational viability.
  5. Separation Costs: Relocation also induces separation. There may be other reasons for separation, which may be either for organizational initiative or for individual employees reasons. Since separation requires replacement, immediate cost effect is on loss of production. Other costs of separation are redundancy benefits (if separation is organization induced), ex-gratia payments (if any), etc. Since separation follows immediate liquidation of fringe benefits, savings of the organization on this course also need to be considered to compute the actual costs.
  6. Support Costs: Some of the employee support services are statutory, while others are offered voluntarily by the organizations. For computing support costs, therefore, it is necessary to distribute these under two different heads and then study their impact. Medical welfare, canteens, safety, security, insurance (medi-claim, etc.), death benefits, parking space costs, etc. are some of the statutory costs for employee support services. While house journal, club membership, music at workplace, long service awards, suggestion schemes, library services, holiday homes, etc., are examples of voluntary support services for employees. Since, employee support services have direct effect on employee motivation, cost curtailment decisions must have reference to this aspect.
  7. Personal Overhead Costs: Personnel overhead costs spread over personnel record keeping, costs for maintaining Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS), cost of personnel decisions and overall costs for maintaining personnel department (salary of the people working in this department). Outsourcing personnel services to a great extent can reduce such cost burden. However, its relative merits and demerits need to be studied.

To enforce control over human resource costs, it is necessary to develop worksheets on each cost element, duly grouping these under different cost heads. Decisions on cost control need to be weighed in terms of lost opportunity for employee motivation and consequent loss of productivity. To understand the trend of HR costs, ratio analysis can be done from the data collected from the spreadsheet.

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