In today’s world, the employees of companies both big and small are learning to work in new ways, across multiple time zones, and via new technologies that are evolving faster than most of us can keep up. Combine these facts with changing expectations regarding response times in our hyper-connected world and growing corporate complexity, it is no wonder we often feel overwhelmed. Nothing, it seems, is simple these days.
According to a recent Deloitte survey, more than 70 percent of companies say their organizations are either “complex” or “very complex.” With all the technology and tools designed to help us manage our work more effectively, doesn’t this seem like a contradiction?
So, what can human resources departments do to help employees simplify their increasingly complicated working lives? Here are a few tips:
1. Support Your Top Employees
Start by recruiting and retaining top talent for your organization. Traditionally, organizations have aimed to hire the best, but then they go on to design complex processes that manage to the lowest common denominator.
HR departments should consider switching things up because, as it turns out, managing the employees that need the most support can have the unintended consequence of demotivating employees, leading to lower productivity and engagement. Instead, HR departments should encourage management processes that support top performers, rather than management processes that focus on low-performing employees.
2. Be the Champion
Human resources departments have the opportunity to become simplicity vigilantes on behalf of their companies. To do this, HR professionals should always be asking fundamental questions about organizational structure, workforce planning, current policies, and the best ways to get work done.
3. Get Your Leaders Involved
Don’t go down this road alone; lean on your leaders. Executives and managers can play important roles in simplification efforts, acting as role models in any organizational initiative that promotes simplicity.
For example, leaders can constantly strive to encourage their employees to think about simplification in everything they do by asking the right kinds of questions — e.g., “Why are we doing it this way?” “Is that the best way to do it?” “What steps can we take out of that process?”
Now, each of the methods mentioned above require some long-term planning and change management. If you want to see some immediate results, there are some other, easier tactics that you can employ. Here are three quick tips for leading by example when simplifying your organization:
1. Stop the Email Insanity
According to Deloitte, the average employee spends over one-third of the workday reading and responding to emails. On average, for each email sent, another three are generated!
Your organization can try out a few different ways to minimize email traffic. For example, you could try implementing “no-mail Mondays,” or you could encourage employees to make more use of instant messaging clients.
Want to take more drastic measures? Consider shutting down email servers on weekends.
2. Encourage Cross-Team Collaboration
Cut down on overlong planning meetings that recycle the same old ideas over and over again by bringing together peers from different parts of the organization. Allow them to weigh in on new ideas. Bringing new blood into these planning meetings is a great way to collect valuable insights and keep things simple. Who knows — maybe the marketing department actually solved the problems your recruiting department is facing weeks ago?
3. Be Intentional
When embarking on simplification initiatives, say what you mean and mean what you say. When companies roll out new initiatives, they sometimes use euphemistic language to ease the transition — but that only breeds fear. If employees are scared about losing their jobs, they will hold onto the ways they have always done things in the past. Even with the best of intentions, simplification may be hard to realize.
If the organization speaks about simplification initiatives clearly, directly, and honestly, that will stop any confusion or fear from developing before it even begins.
As you shift your organization’s mindset toward simplification, its important to remember that there is no one solution or approach that will work for every organization. If you prioritize simplification, while ensuring all subsequent decisions fit with your organizational culture and support your overall business objectives, you’ll be sure to find success.