Do your processes spark joy? Tidying up your HR workflows
by Jolene Nicotina March 12 2019
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What does the hit Netflix show, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, have to do with HR workflows? More than you might think. If you aren’t already familiar with the name, Marie Kondo is a celebrity tidying expert whose decluttering philosophy encourages minimalism. Although her KonMari Method™ is about organizing and maintaining your home, its principles can also apply to organizing your HR processes.
Much like how our homes become burdened with excess stuff, HR is often overwhelmed with a huge amount of administration and transactions. Operating procedures that once seemed clear and necessary become complicated by extra steps, approvals and systems over time. As you work to streamline and optimize your existing HR workflows, let the following lessons from Kondo guide your approach.
Lesson 1: Ask yourself, does it spark joy?
Marie Kondo’s advice: One of the most popular lessons from Kondo is one that guides our decisions around which items to keep and which to discard. When combing through your belongings, Kondo suggests holding each item in your hands and asking yourself, “Does it spark joy?” If yes, it’s a keeper. No? Get rid of it. Although it can seem silly to think about a pair of socks sparking joy, this test is really one about simplicity. The only things worth keeping are those that have a function or bring happiness.
How it applies to HR workflows: Creating and managing processes is a necessary part of business, but that doesn’t mean the more, the better. In the same way we acquire things that we don’t truly need or even like, HR tends to create processes that may not need to exist or that end up slowing down productivity. And, when new processes are created, it’s easy to forget to examine existing ones for duplication of effort.
In most cases, less is more. Working with fewer processes might actually be easier and better for the business. When doing a process audit, evaluate each process individually and determine if it’s absolutely necessary to have. If there’s any doubt, consider eliminating it.
Lesson 2: Sort by category, not location
Marie Kondo’s advice: When decluttering your home, Kondo suggests you tackle one category at a time (i.e., clothing, books, sentimental items); don't organize by room or location. This allows you to see how much you really have of a certain type of item. And, this approach prevents any confusion that arises when you try to declutter objects stored in multiple locations.
How it applies to HR workflows: When evaluating your current processes, it’s important to think broadly across all departments, functions, and systems. For example, onboarding a new employee involves payroll, benefits, IT, etc. The process may also span across your ATS, the HRIS and your HR Service Delivery platform. If processes aren’t considered within a big-picture context, it’s hard to spot duplication of effort and opportunities to eliminate or combine certain steps.
Lesson 3: When it comes to paper, discard everything
Marie Kondo’s advice: When it comes to organizing paper documents, Kondo takes an extreme approach. “My basic principle for sorting papers is to throw them all away,” she says in her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Her advice is to keep only the paper that falls into one of three categories: needs immediate attention (i.e., bills, applications, etc); needed in the short term (i.e., tax documents for the current year); or must be kept indefinitely (i.e., birth certificates, social security cards, etc).
How it applies to HR workflows: Of course, we don’t suggest HR simply throw away employee files that don’t spark joy. However, Kondo’s extreme stance on getting rid of paper reflects the degree to which paper can weigh us down, both at home and in the workplace. Think about how much more efficient your processes could be if scanning, copying, filing and faxing were eliminated.
Paper also makes it difficult to manage compliance. It’s hard to keep tabs on which documents are incomplete, missing or about to expire when they’re sitting in packed filing cabinets. So, while HR can’t throw away all paper documents, they candigitize and consolidate them in a central repository
The life-changing magic of tidying up your HR workflows
In her book, Kondo claims that tidying your home can dramatically improve your life. She describes clients who experienced a renewed passion for their careers and hobbies after decluttering and organizing their homes. Assessing and optimizing your HR workflows can have a similarly dramatic effect on your HR department and the business. By squeezing out inefficiencies and waste, HR spends less time on administrative work and frees up time for meaningful employee interactions and strategic initiatives—the HR activities that spark joy.
Once you've decided to audit your HR workflows, you may want to consider where automation can speed things up. Check out our eBook, Process Automation: The Key to Strategic HR. It includes 8 process flowcharts that show exactly where automation technology can make a difference.
Jolene Nicotina is the Content Marketing Manager for North America at PeopleDoc, Inc. She works on making sure HR professionals have all the latest information they need related to HR service delivery, HR technology, and PeopleDoc, Inc. Prior to PeopleDoc, Jolene worked in marketing communications for the healthcare technology industry.