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Five more time- and money-saving tips for HR practitioners

Keep it simple and avoid reinventing the wheel
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By Brian Kreissl

Continuing with the theme of last week’s post, here are five more time- and money-saving tips for HR professionals to help lessen their workload, accomplish more and allow them to focus on more strategic, value-added activities.

Don’t reinvent the wheel

I have met more than a few HR practitioners in my time who tended to be quite negative at times about existing programs, solutions and technologies within their organizations. I don’t know if they thought excessive nitpicking would help them be seen as more strategic or make them look like they had high standards and a desire to strive for continuous performance improvement, but there were times when the existing solution was more than good enough.

“Done is better than perfect,” people say, and I would tend to agree that perfectionism and constantly reworking things can end up wasting time and result in diminishing returns. The additional effort to go from an A to an A+ sometimes just isn’t worth it, and your efforts would often be better concentrated on other things.

Even where minor tweaks are necessary, that’s generally a better strategy than starting from scratch. As an example, if you were updating the job descriptions in your organization to follow a competency-based format, you could start with the existing job duties and requirements and make them fit the new template, rather than starting the project from the beginning without leveraging the contents of existing job descriptions.

Keep it simple

We all like to feel sophisticated and a sense of pride and accomplishment at something we have created and implemented. However, simple but elegant solutions are usually preferable to something overly complex that others have difficulty following or understanding.

Developing highly complex policies, programs or tools can make it difficult for managers and employees to understand them and result in resistance to change, pushback and negative feedback. In the end, extremely complex projects or programs are more expensive to develop and implement and require more training and socialization to be understood and accepted by various stakeholders.

Automate, outsource or delegate it

One obvious timesaver is automating, outsourcing or delegating transactional HR tasks. Technology or outsourcing vendors can often complete these tasks faster, better, cheaper and more accurately than internally within the HR department, although it may be necessary to have managers and employees complete some of the work of actually processing transactions for themselves.

This takes a certain amount of change management to get stakeholders to buy into automated processes. In the case of outsourcing, it is important not to outsource too many tasks and ensure the vendor can actually complete the work faster, cheaper and more accurately. Otherwise, why outsource?

Use books and reference solutions

Many HR practitioners seem to believe they have to know everything about the profession right off the top of their heads. It almost seems like having to look something up is considered a sign of weakness.

However, other professionals such as lawyers are experts in finding and researching information. They know it isn’t necessary or even possible to have all the answers without turning to other resources.

Knowing everything isn’t the most important thing in any profession. Rather, the most important skill is often knowing where to find the information you need.

Human resources management is an extremely varied profession with a large body of knowledge associated with it. No one can possibly know everything, but knowing how and where to find information can make you faster, more efficient and more successful.

Use templates

There are many products and services that provide tools and templates that HR practitioners can tweak and use in their own organizations. Templates can be extremely useful in helping to reduce the amount of work required to develop policies and programs and often have the added benefit of including built-in compliance.

Thomson Reuters, for example, has several publications with templates available in electronic format to help customers develop and enhance their own employment policies, handbooks, forms and job descriptions. Why go to the trouble of creating these documents when someone else has already done the work for you?

Nevertheless, it is important to customize sample documents to your own situation. At a minimum, you need to ensure the documents don’t tell any lies. For example, a policy cannot say you have an attendance management program when you don’t have one.

© Copyright Canadian HR Reporter, Thomson Reuters Canada Limited. All rights reserved.

Brian Kreissl

Brian Kreissl is the product development manager for Thomson Reuters Legal Canada's human resources, OH&S, payroll and records retention products and solutions.
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