Jeff Haden of BNET offered up a great post on “Simple Ways to Increase Productivity by 5% - In one Day!” Sounds great right but is it possible? The answer depends on how much you are willing to put into the policies and procedures you have in place.
Here I want to focus on making your HR department more productive first, and then the lessons learned can be spread throughout your company. What can be done in just a single day to make this possible?
The Not So Technology HR Department
Believe it or not, many small to mid-sized HR departments still don’t have a library of online resources to pull from or HR forms on the company network. They usually rely on making copies of all the documents needed for new hires as needed. This can include handbooks, W-4 and I-9 forms and job applications, benefit enrollment forms, and any other documents the new hire needs to complete. This can also include other HR forms such as employee warnings and termination documents.
If you don’t have all these forms on your network, step up lost time by dedicating time each month to ensure you have plenty of new hire packets handy, which contain all the forms, instead of chasing around the office looking for everything you need when it’s new hire orientation day. In the meantime, you can also divvy up the forms and documents and scan or recreate them so you can upload them to your network for even faster access in the future.
Having new hire packets ready when needed can save lots of time and time is everything when it comes to productivity.
In his BNET article, Jeff Haden suggests creating an “esteem incentive,” which is a great idea for the not so techno HR office and it doesn’t cost a dime. Place one person in charge of placing all the new hire documents on the network and “reward” them by presenting the achievement to the HR manager or upper management.
Get Rid of What You Don’t Need
You’ve probably walked by documents, boxes, files and even equipment in the HR department that hasn’t been used for years. Instead of the normal walk by, perform a detailed walk through of your HR department. If the entire HR team takes one day to get rid of unused items or moves them to storage, this frees up space and we all know an organized office is a productive one.
Jeff Haden also suggests getting rid of “legacy tasks.” What are legacy tasks? Your HR department has performed these tasks the same way for years without changes or improvements. As Haden puts it, “We’ve always done it that way.” An example of a legacy task might be similar reports produced by two separate workers so eliminate one and free up time for other tasks.
Making Tasks Easier
Do you have employees sharing one fax machine or even something as simple as an electronic stapler? Do you know how much time can be wasted by not having the right equipment?
Let’s look at an example. Your payroll assistant, who sends and receives faxes all day from satellite offices, is sharing one fax machine with your unemployment claims / health care specialist. I bet if you figured out how much time is wasted by both waiting for the other to finish with the fax machine, you’d see a lot of wasted minutes or maybe even hours. Dedicating fax machines for busy divisions in the HR department can save time and increase productivity.
Think the electric stapler is a joke example? Think again. If you have one staff member creating new hire packets all day who absolutely requires the stapler and another organizing workman’s compensation claims (which should be kept in a separate file of their own) who also needs the stapler, wasted time is eliminated by purchasing a second stapler.
Ask your employee’ what they would suggest or as Haden puts it “for one thing that would make their job easier” each day.
Right Person for the Job
I really like this idea from Mr. Haden. Make sure you have the right person doing tasks they excel at even if it means someone stepping aside to allow another to complete the task at the same time each day. Mr. Haden offers that because he is a fast typist, even though he doesn’t work in the shipping department, each day he heads over there to type the FedEx labels because he gets them done faster. Do you have something similar you could assign? For example, maybe you have one staff member who excels at new hire orientation? If so, put them where they excel.
This isn’t saying one staff member isn’t doing their job well. What it does do is simply utilizing the most effective person to handle the task, and any task completed accurately and quickly means your department is more productive.
I remember when I worked as the personnel director for one firm in Arizona. Our HR policies and procedures were outdated especially when new laws came into play such as the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Our idea to update the manuals became a long-term nightmare. Why? We decided we’d divvy up the old manual in sections and have various people rewrite each section even if the person wasn’t qualified (we could edit it later right?)
You guessed it, our HR policy and procedure manual took almost a year to complete.
Instead, we should have assigned a few HR staffers to work on the manual (some of the ones who were assigned weren’t even in the same office!) This way the streamlined team would have finished the task faster.
Assign teams, not entire departments, to dedicated tasks.
Taking It Outside the HR Department
The reason I think you should test increasing productivity in one day first in the HR department is it will give you time to realize any changes you made during the process.
Once you’ve perfected how to make the HR department a productive unit, take those ideas outside to other departments. You may be faced with a little change resistance along the way, but in the long run, your entire company will turn into a well-oiled machine without waste.
What ideas or suggestions do you have for increasing productivity by just changing one thing? I’d love to hear your comments (so drop me a comment below). Remember an engaging discussion among HR professionals here at Bright Hub is a great way to network for successful productivity!
Haden, Jeff – BNET – “Simple Ways to Increase Productivity by 5% - In One Day” October 17 2011.