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Is Simplicity the Next Big Thing in HR and Business?

Posted by Jessica Miller-Merrell

simplicity in hr

Every human resources department operates differently. But each of these departments has the same goals in mind: employee engagement, low turnover, and lower cost-per-hire—all of which contribute to overall company success. To hire the best, companies need to be the best. For every function of HR, there are tens if not hundreds of products out there that your department can purchase to help solve that specific issue. And for every ten to hundreds of solutions, there are that many vendors out there offering something different and marketing it as “the most innovative thing ever.”

Last week John Bersin, of Bersin by Deliotte, made a power statement that simplicity—of all things—is the “Next Big Thing in HR & Business.” And I have to say he’s probably right. HR departments get so caught up in demos and the “flash and bang” of the next new technology that they’re often just making their jobs harder. But I don’t think most of these programs are really made to simplify the job of an HR practitioner. Sure, they’re flashing, they’re banging, and they may offer some benefits like insightful analytics, but do HR practitioners need all of this to make good hiring decisions? Probably not. Simpler is better.

Simplicity in the workplace can be achieved by following these three simple rules.

Choose Functionality over Flash

When looking for your next solution or a piece of software for an issue you’re having in the workplace, opt for functionality over flash. I’ll be the first to admit that when you demo a product and it’s really pretty and there are so many cool features, you might be blinded by the look of the product and not its functionality. But take a look at LinkedIn; they created their own ATS, based on a need for functionality over flash. This product (unfortunately not available to the general public) has become known for its incredible functionality and innovation. It might not have all the bells and whistles you see in public ATS solutions, but it works, and in fact it works really well.

Understand the Needs of Your Business Before You Buy

One of the problems with all of these vendors and solutions is that when these products are demoed, you can get mesmerized by everything but what you actually need. Go into a product demo with a list of exactly what you need. Don’t get caught up in the things you don’t need, and keep a clear picture in mind of your desired outcome. And beware—if you buy a product you don’t really need, you’ll be spending more time learning about it and trying to understand something that won’t ultimately help the bottom line of your company.

Cut the Fat from Your Workplace

This doesn’t mean that you should fire all of your employees, although you may be wishing you could start over if you are having employee drama issues. Cutting the fat means getting rid of unnecessary and obscure practices or policies in the workplace. Many companies continue to work off outdated and unnecessary policies. My favorites:

  • A 10-page policy on how to conduct your Monday morning meeting;
  • Time limits for restroom breaks; and
  • Dress codes for “Casual Fridays.”

These kinds of things just add more work to your already stretched HR staff, and it takes time away from what they really need to be doing. Simplicity in the workplace doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach, but once you start making a move in that direction, you’ll start to see the benefits in time saved and clarity. The year may already be half over, but there is no better time to start than the present. Start cutting the fat, understanding the real needs of your business, and picking functionality over flash. It’ll not only save you time as an HR professional, but it will also save your company money.

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About Jessica Miller-Merrell

Author

Jessica is listed as the 2nd most influential recruiter online and as the 8th most powerful woman on Twitter. She is the author of Tweet This! Twitter for Business, a how-to business guide for Twitter users. She also writes for a number of leading publications, including Fortune, HR Magazine, SmartBrief, and HR Executive Magazine.

4 COMMENTS Join the discussion
  • Elise S. September, 06, 2014

    Simplicity means functionality and efficiency. The most important step that you have presented is to understand the needs of the business. Every company should take this step into consideration. Knowing what is needed in your company can minimize the risk of wrong and unproductive decisions.

  • Sophia Baker September, 08, 2014

    Today’s technology offers a wide range of programs that are designed to simplify HR work. Unfortunately, many companies make wrong decisions concerning the programs that they choose to buy. The latest program is not necessarily the program that suits your company the best. When my HR team asks for a specific program, I always require documentation with all the benefits and improvements that it will bring to my organization.

  • Michael J. September, 09, 2014

    Simplicity does not mean that you should use the easiest programs or the most basic programs. It means that you should not hinder work processes by using ineffective programs or unnecessary policies. Nowadays things happen faster than ever, so agility and simplicity should become the core assets of successful companies.

  • Bob Bennett September, 19, 2014

    Thanks for this. I promote simplicity as well, focusing on what you have so aptly described – functionality, effectiveness and efficiency. Two other items I think are important to remember when trying to keep things simple: 1) the compatibility and flexibility of systems and technology – having the greatest technology for recruitment, for example, will only create greater problems for a company if it is not in sync with other programs like development, performance management, compensation, etc; and 2) simplicity in communication – the importance of using language and media that can be easily understood by others is invaluable.

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Guest September, 19, 2014