In my 17+ years as an HR practitioner, I’ve made many blunders. Over the years, some things seemed to go on autopilot. I felt I could do my job in my sleep! While this was (theoretically) a good thing, in hindsight it wasn’t what was best for the business. While I was on autopilot, innovative solutions were passing me by. Keeping some HR processes the same just because they were comfortable is among my biggest regrets. As I think back, many mistakes I made were not due to taking the wrong action on an issue, but due to not acting at all.

Let me give you an example.

For years I knew the company onboarding process needed to be revamped. I read the research, I thought about it often, and had ideas to update the process. I even got feedback from new hires. The onboarding process was filled with manual tasks, duplicate work, and frequent errors. Despite knowing this, talking to others about it, getting approval to make changes, and having the desire to do so, I kept the process the same because it was the way it was always done, and it was what I knew. I put it on the back burner and said I would “get to it another day.” It was part of the autopilot mentality! I thought I was moving forward, but in reality I wasn’t moving at all. In hindsight, not doing anything led to a stagnant, boring, and outdated onboarding method that did nothing to engage or inspire new hires, thus leading to a host of problems down the line.

That is just one example of how doing nothing can cost you (and the business) as an HR professional. 

Think about the methods and practices you use every day. Are you on autopilot, too? 

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First cost of inaction: Employee (dis)engagement

Today’s reality is that we live in an era of choice, and for HR professionals, that means it’s more important than ever to keep employees engaged, happy, motivated, and inspired in order to retain them. What everyday experiences are you offering your employees? Are they happy, motivated, and inspired by your company culture and your HR practices? If your answer is yes, I challenge you with another question: how do you know?

Simply asking around to get a pulse on your culture may not give you a clear picture. You’ll likely be told what employees think you want to hear! It’s important that your HCM technology has modern people analytics capabilities so that you can get an accurate idea of things like turnover and retention trends, absences, and productivity. Being armed with accurate and timely data provides you the ability to make improvements to advance employee engagement and move the business forward.

Second cost of inaction: HR errors

The paper onboarding process I used was a hotbed for errors. Think of all the opportunities for mistakes! There were mistakes made regularly on W-4s, I-9s, and state tax forms. Sometimes it was difficult for me to read a new employee’s social security number or address due to poor penmanship, and due to time restraints, I had to get the information in the system right away. If was unable to reach the employee or manager and payroll was about to be run, I had to guess! I was wrong more than once. If I’d had a reliable HCM system where the employee was responsible for their data entry and had to verify that their data was accurate, this problem would have been avoided.

I could have put this process in place, but my resistance to change stopped me from doing so. My inaction in not moving from autopilot mode cost money, stress, and time. More importantly, errors in data entry do nothing to foster employee trust that their paycheck will be accurate, thus contributing to disengagement and leading to fear on payday.

Third cost of inaction: Wasted time

Duplicate work, manual data entry, time at the copier, forgetting forms, losing papers, fixing errors, electronic systems that don’t work in sync, compliance risks—you get the idea. All these things take time away from what you should be focusing on: your people! Furthermore, these tasks hearken back to the antiquated days of HR, when the field was viewed as transactional and not strategic. As a profession, HR has worked hard to have a seat at the table. Don’t let your outdated systems and processes take your valuable time and resources away from being a strategic voice in your company. Be a champion for business goals and initiatives and move away from administrative tasks of the past. It’s time to act towards positive change, and innovative modern technology can—and should—help you get there.

Resist your resistance to change

Often change isn’t easy, but it is necessary. Doing things because that’s the way they have always been done, and being on autopilot is comfortable, but it probably is not steering your workforce in the right direction any longer. Evaluate your HR processes and systems to ensure they are doing what you expect them to. If they aren’t, act now. Don’t waste time and resources when you don’t have to. Tools exist to make your life easier, your employees happier, and your business brand better.

Take back control. Get some of your HR swagger back! Turn off autopilot and steer your HR initiatives in a new direction.

Assess your HR swagger now

Published: Thursday, September 12, 2019