I came across a piece of HR advice recently that made me quite cross. It was the sort of risk adverse, process for the sake of it stuff that gives HR a bad name. Essentially, someone was advocating getting all your key employment policies signed by your employees. I mean why? There are so many reasons not to do this I barely know where to start, but I will have a go. Firstly, you will have to do it again every time you change them unless you want the original to be worthless. Secondly, some poor sod in HR will have to chase for every unsigned copy, and the chances are that if you ever need to rely on the document it will the one person that never returned it that you have an issue with. This puts you in a worse position than if you had just sent it to them with the contract of employment and left them to read it or recycle it.
And more important IT IS NOT NECESSARY! Sorry to shout. As long as your policies are well communicated (such as in your induction etc.) and easily available (intranet?) then this will be fine. Your employment policies should be living, breathing documents that are regularly reviewed and updated, making this sort of suggestion nothing short of a full time job. I just think that HR could be doing better things.
We have a rule in our HR services team. We only have a HR process if it meets one of the following tests:
- There is a legal requirement for it
- There is a sound and sensible reason for it such as reducing risk, or meeting a standard
- It adds real value
- We do something with the output (filing it doesn’t necessarily count unless it also meets numbers 1, 2 or 3)
This has led me to refuse to do all manner of things. Exit interviews were a good example. We spent years collating information via lengthy telephone interview about why people were leaving (at which nearly everyone said ‘personal betterment’ or some other such vague and useless statement). Results got put into a spreadsheet that no one ever reviewed. Queue – process consigned to dustbin.
So, things to keep; contracts of employment, signed variations to terms and conditions, training records. Examples of things to stop; signing documents that don’t need to be signed; collation of information that no one uses to inform decision making or make changes; things that you file ‘just in case’ unless you really think you are going to use it in the future.
So, here is my suggestion for keeping yourself sane with your HR processes. Get a willing volunteer to go through and list every life-cycle process you undertake in your HR team and every piece of paper you produce and send out to your employees. You will easily find a volunteer as it will make their life a whole lot easier in the long run. Apply the rules above and be ruthless. If you are not sure whether people use your outputs just stop doing them and see if anyone notices (its been two years so far with one process I stopped). And then see what you can do to add more value with the time it gives you back.