When you make a change for better efficiency, make sure it’s… efficient!
Looking for ways to work more efficiently is part of the HR assignments. Can we make this simpler? Can we automate that? Can we eliminate this manual task so we get more time to focus on the projects where we can really make a difference?
We want to make HR simple but let’s face it, a lot of the time it’s not. At least not for the leaders and team members in the business. Far too often we run into HR colleagues who are so focused on simplifying for themselves that they end up pushing work on leaders and team members instead. It can be simple things like filing a leave request, to salary reviews, promotions, answering questions about what leaves a person is entitled to, or filling out forms for work permits and immigration. Pushing these tasks out in the organization may feel like a simplification, but often it can mean we get less efficient instead.
As HR professionals, we always need to keep the entire organization in sight. And moving cumbersome tasks from one part to another isn’t simplifying, it’s just shifting work around. A shift like that means you move the task to someone who doesn’t have the same expertise and experience in these matters as an HR professional does. That means they will likely spend more time on them then you would have. Also, such a shift means you steal away time that people should be using to do the things they were hired to do, the things they’re good at. So while we may be saving ourselves a few minutes, we are actually costing the organization at the other end.
Questions to ask yourself before you shift tasks in the name of efficiency
Whenever you want to make a change and increase efficiency, always put yourself in the shoes of the user. And not just by assuming (assumption is the mother of all screw-ups) but do some user-centered pre-work and get the necessary facts. Here are some questions you might want to ask yourself before you shift tasks in the name of efficiency:
- Does the person you want to shift a task to understand why this task is done and what the benefits are?
- Do they have enough knowledge about the topic to understand what to do?
- What are the consequences if it’s handled in the wrong way? Is the end user aware of these consequences?
- Is the task easy to do? Even for someone who isn’t a frequent user of the system and who doesn’t know every nook and cranny of the process?
- Is there a way to make the task easier? Can it be automated?
- What’s in it for the end user?
- Could someone else do it quicker and better?
- Would it make more sense to hire someone to do this for everyone, rather than take out 3 minutes from every employee’s workday?
- Do I want to shift this just because I really don’t enjoy admin?
- Will this save time for the organization as a whole?
Sometimes the answer is that we shouldn’t move this task, and that’s all right
Sometimes you will come to the conclusion that the task can’t be automated and even if it’s boring and would only take each person a couple of minutes, it’s more efficient to have the HR expert handling it. Not the result you were hoping for, but maybe it’ll feel a little bit easier to spend time on it once you are certain that this is, in fact, the most efficient solution for the company and its business. In the end, that’s what we’re here for.