HR Pros: Stop The Damn INSANITY!

Oct 15, 2021

I Know You Are Not Doing ALL You Can...

It Was The Best Of Times, It Was The Worst Of Times

I will always remember; it was March of 2008 and I was in my very first Human Resources Manager role. Having spent 8+ years as a Corporate Trainer professionally speaking every day, this was an opportunity for me to spread my wings a bit and learn more about HR to advance my career.

The housing market hadn't yet crashed so we were doing a fair amount of recruiting. We were a hotel so initial steps for summer staffing were in place which meant a lot of interviewing and hiring.

My office sat inside a larger office compound of sorts and my office sat directly across from the HR Assistant. I sat watching her one day and I saw a lot of papers being printed followed by a lot of brightly colored highlighting.

I kept my eye on this for quite a while and it was like she was the Energizer Bunny of HR with the printing/highlighting process.

Finally, I asked the question: "What the heck are you doing"?

The response, "I am printing the new hire packet for every new hire and highlighting where they need to complete something".

I sat a little shell-shocked by that answer, but I trudged ahead regardless...

"Do you do this for each and EVERY new hire"?

Response: "Yes".

My wheels were spinning like a hamster running on a wheel.

"And how much time in an average week do you spend doing this"?

I'll be brutally honest; I was dreading the answer I might get.

Response: "Several hours a week".

Now, Websters dictionary defines several as being a great many.

So here she was, an associate who was scheduled to work 40 hours a week spending "several" of those in this organized cacophony of minutiae.

Let's do the math on this with a hypothetical minimum wage of $10/hour and 5 hours a week. I propose 1 hour per work day for this example.

5 hours X $10/hour = $50 per week.

Let's take it to the next level and annualize it:

$50/week X 52 weeks = $2600 a year.

These are numbers with a pretty low hourly rate. I can tell you the HR Assistant there was making far above that amount, so the financial impact was far greater.

$2600 a year not to mention 260 hours of productivity essentially wasted.


There's a Better Path

This got me thinking there had to be a faster, more productive, and efficient way to get this done.

We utilized what is arguably the most popular business suite of software available, Microsoft Office, so how could these be leveraged to get back 260 hours per year of effort?

Enter Excel and Word.

What I did was great 1 full document which had every single form a new hire had to complete: Personal Information, Policy Acknowledgements, Uniform Issuance etc...

Then, I went through and added highlights, an in-built feature in Word, to all the areas where the information had to be completed. I made this stand out on the page with color though a dark grey highlight is just as effective if using a B&W printer.

Next, I created an Excel spreadsheet which had every field needed for the New Hire Packet to be auto populated i.e. name, start date, pay rate, position etc...

Finally, I went back to Word and created a Mail Merge out of the now full new hire packet. This allowed the Excel file to feed over all the pertinent info the New Hire Packet.

This still left several documents unable to be mail merged because they were in PDF format like the W-4, I-9 and State Tax forms.

For these, I utilized Adobe Acrobat, a free download, and created highlights in the documents just the same was as in the New Hire Packet.

All in all I invested about 2 hours putting all of this together. The result? An hour a day was cut to about 5 minutes a day. Most of the manual process went away and all that remained was filling in the fields needed in Excel and then printing.

The brilliant part if I don't say so myself is when we had mass hiring in any given day, this process was used in bulk with just the initial completion of the Excel for all new hires and then sorting the packets after printing.

So What Is This Insanity You Speak Of?

Many times, we ignore or don't see what is right in front of us. We resign ourselves to always doing things the way we always have. Had a critical look at the process and time invested in my previous real-life example, that organization may well still be doing things the same way.

In a recent role, the company invested $1,000's a month in an HRIS/HCM(Human Resources Information System/Human Capital Management) but was not even using 1/10 of its capabilities.

Most processes were still driven off of paper for everything from timecards to schedule change requests to the disciplinary process which was piecemeal and not formalized but that is a story for another time...

It was like walking into work in the Mad Men era with so much wasted money spent on B.S. stuff. Appalling cannot begin to describe how bad it was.

To make matters worse, there was a general hesitation to implement digital initiatives which kept them in that Mad Men era.

Slowly, small pieces were implemented: uploading all paper records into the system. Next was integrating background checks through the system so the entire process was housed in 1 solution instead of wasting energy between 2.

After that, it was the disciplinary process being added and over time, more and more adoption of the system started alleviating the stress of all the "work", i.e. manual processes, which piled up and likely got addressed down the road if at all.

Job Applications were an inflection point here too. I'd hear things like, "Our candidates won't complete a full application, Indeed candidates won't complete our application only through Indeed, etc"

Problem was, whoever was in control of the system previously

  1. Was not technically savvy
  2. Did not like anybody's input or suggestions
  3. Had an aversion to using anything digital save for their iPhone

This company was spending more than $50,000 a year and STILL doing many things manually.

That culture seemed to permeate much of the organization, and we all know what they say about change...

In the end, slowly over time, more and more automations and digital capabilities were implemented and affected things in very positive ways.

In essence, the insanity was stopped... or at least mitigated.