HR managers are struggling to focus on the high-value activities that attracted them to the profession because they are spending two days a week on admin, according to cloud company ServiceNow.

Current administrative processes are causing a big productivity drain for HR departments, with a third of their time spent answering routine questions, the survey found. Inefficiencies are also ride in the onboarding process - a process that is usually standardised and could easily be automated, with typically 10 or more interaction and five departments needed to get ready for an employee's first day at work.

The report, HR Unleashed: Leading Business Transformation, highlights five key areas of focus that will enable HR professional to free themselves from time-consuming, manual activities. These include a strong alignment with HR's natural ally, the CIO, to create a winning business service combination, as well as not being afraid to throw aside traditional roles and embrace change and a new remit.

Jen Stroud, HR evangelist and transformation consultant at ServiceNow, said: "HR is primarily about people, but outdated, manual processes are preventing HR professionals from focusing on what attracted them to the job in the first place. HR serves the most important customers an organisation will ever have - its employees - and it's time to challenge existing ways of working and position HR as a transformational business service.

"To truly unleash the potential of HR, we must get back the 12 hours a week that are lost unnecessarily to endless, mundane tasks. Service management can play a key role in enabling the shift from administration to strategy, giving HR professionals the freedom to focus on people, not processes, and create competitive advantage for the organisation."