How to Maximize Your HR Department: 3 Key Conversations for Business Simplification
June 13, 2016

In my current role, I have the privilege of working with business owners, HR teams, and thought leaders across various industries discussing best practices as well as challenges of managing a 21st-century workforce.  One of the recurring themes of our conversation is “business simplification.”

A quick google search prior to writing this article confirms that this conversation  is becoming more commonplace.  Two great examples can be found here and here.

The big problem that I see over and over in HR departments is probably best summarized in this article from Wharton University:

“Some HR departments have tried to modernize in the past few years by purchasing one-off software packages … while this may have served as a quick fix, it ultimately caused greater complexity and inefficiencies”

In many cases, our efforts at simplification have actually COMPLICATED things by creating too many steps or too many pieces of technology.

In light of these challenges, I’d like to share some of the common feedback that I discuss with companies on a weekly basis.

1. Do you REALLY need that many steps?

Sometimes we need workflow and multiple levels of approval.  But sometimes we simply overcomplicate things.  Here’s my rule of thumb.

Can your policy be easily communicated by one employee to another in 3 sentences or less?

If the answer to this question is “NO” then perhaps this policy or procedure should be revisited.  Examples of this include:

  • PTO Policies with too many variations.
  • Performance Reviews with too many participants
  • Pay scales with too many variables
  • Too many levels of approval.

There are obviously exceptions to these principles, but a good place to start is to take a hard look at your current policies.  Are they EASILY understandable by every employee?  If they aren’t, then you’re going to have trouble enforcing them.

2. Stop babysitting your employees.

Too often we make excuses for why our employees “can’t” do something.  Here are some of the examples I hear from time to time:

  • My employees can’t enroll in benefits online
  • My employees can’t choose their tax withholding without my help
  • My employees can’t remember to check their timecard

Sometimes, the root cause of the “cant’s” is Issue #1 above and you need to simplify processes.  In other cases, though, you simply aren’t giving your employees enough credit!

Did you know that as of Nov 2015, 68% of adults own a smartphone (35% increase from just four years ago)?  78% of adults have at least one social media profile!

When that many employees are able to update a profile pic on a cell phone, they can DEFINITELY fill out an I-9 electronically too!  And even for the handful that can’t, what impact would it make if you at least gave employees the OPTION to take control of their personnel file online?

What impact could it make if only 95% of your employees took actions on their own behalf online?

On this subject, here’s a link to another recent article on the importance of multi-language support to enhance user adoption.

3. Consolidate Systems.

How many unique logins do your employees have today?  How many do you have?  Obviously, you can’t consolidate EVERY login, but at least work to minimize these.  Not only do multiple logins provide multiple opportunities for users to forget passwords and basic navigation, but these same systems also create challenges for your leadership team when analyzing data.  Here’s another article on the types of strategic conversations you can have IF you consolidate multiple systems into one!

These are just some of the strategies that help companies simplify their business processes and maximize their HR department.  Please join the conversation by sharing some simple changes you’ve made in your business that have made a huge impact.