Got Some Time to Kill? Give these HR Timewasters a Shot.

Andy Porter Andy Porter, Driving Productivity, Good HR, HR

I’m making a declaration today:  I’m more productive and efficient than ever before at work.  Yup.  I’m kickin’ ass and takin’ names.  Now I wish I could tell you that this new found productivity is due to some well thought out grand plan that I implemented, but that wouldn’t be true.  The truth is I’m a first-time father to a 7 week old daughter, Abigail, and as a result I absolutely HAVE to be more efficient.  Pre-Abigail I’d generally arrive at the office around 8AM and leave around 6PM and without a “hard stop” at the end of the day I’d often find myself doing things that really weren’t adding much value or that could have been done in a fraction of the time.  So I cut out the b.s. at work and focused more of my time and energy on the work that really matters most.  Looks like Pankow was on to something with his post of Pregnancy Discrimination but I’d take it even further – if companies are looking for productive and efficient employees, maybe they should consider ONLY hiring parents!  But that’s for another post.

As we all know, HR is often well known for doing work that wastes time and doesn’t add any value to the company.  Here is my list of the biggest wastes of time in HR:

  • Developing Employee Handbooks – I think a better name for an employee handbook would be “Things You Should Have Learned When You Were 5.”  You mean I have to come into work on time and if I’m going to be out or late I should let someone know?  It’s not a good idea to harass and discriminate?  Or my favorite – the dress code.  Yes, Johnny, you DO have to wear pants in the office.  And I could go on.  The point is the content of most handbooks are meant to create boundaries around what someone shouldn’t do rather than help employees become more productive.  The handbook wins the coveted double time waster award since once HR is done with it, we then pay the lawyers to review and edit.
  • Executive and Board Compensation Analysis – Of course, companies need to pay their executive and board members competitively.  However, because of a few bad companies, we now live in Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank world where every minute decision has to be justified and then justified again.  A typical executive and board compensation analysis a) costs way more than it should, often in the tens of thousands, b) it almost always just confirms what you already know, and c) if your peer companies are public, you’re paying money for someone else to review publicly available information simply so that you can say an independent third party conducted the analysis.
  • Employee Satisfaction Surveys – If you’re actually asking yourself the question about whether your employees are satisfied and engaged, chances are you already know the answer – they’re not.  In the time it’s going to take you to develop the survey, deploy it in your organization, and gather feedback and analyze it, (and pay another third party consultant tens of thousands of dollars), you could have been out there actually fixing the problem.  And, guess what?  I would bet it’s going to tell you to focus on:  career development/career paths, professional development, training managers to be better managers, and better rewards and incentives.  There.  I just save you $50K.
  • Reconciling Headcount Numbers – HR has a number, Finance has a number, the hiring managers have their numbers, and then we have to come up with one consensus number.  In my experience, this exercise is the classic time waster – takes a lot of time to sort out, and adds little to no value to the company.
  • Formulas to Determine Pay –I get it, you need to start with some basis to determine pay – I’m not advocating for the wild west here.  But, the biggest and most destructive time waster of all is when HR tries to explain (to a high performer no less) why the formula that determined their pay is correct.  Let me make it simple – if you’re top performers are saying they’re underpaid, they’re underpaid.  Stop wasting time explaining the excel calculations and pay em’ what they’re worth.

You’ve probably picked up on a common theme – most of these time wasters simply serve to confirm things that we already know but often at a significant cost in time and effort.  And, I’m sure this list is only a tip of the iceberg – we could probably go on and on!

Andy Porter

Andy Porter is Chief People Officer at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, MA which means he works with some wicked smaaht people. Some days, he indeed does wear short shorts around the office(call it a morale booster) but it really just makes people uncomfortable. Other days, he spits some mad game on cheese. No really – he’s somewhat of a cheese aficionado. But more importantly? At Broad he gets to his small part to help change the world of healthcare.