Four Tips For Cleaning Out The HR Closet

Many organizations have cycles that match the calendar year. See if these ring true for you.

  • Business results based on year end totals
  • Employee performance rated on annual objectives
  • Setting new objectives for the new year
  • New regulations (and new tax tables) that may need attention
  • Budgets for departments that become “refreshed” on January 1
  • New providers or changes in group health¬† plans take effect January 1

The first of the year is also a time, for many, for personal and professional reflection. And that may include some housecleaning. Identifying old habits to change, and new habits we want to develop.  If you are responsible for any facet of HR in your organization, you can show some leadership by cleaning up the HR closet. In some cases that is literal cleaning up, and in other cases, figurative cleaning. Let me suggest a few things that have worked for me in the past.

  1. Get rid of shit that you don’t need and that doesn’t add value. You still have 2017 (or 2016) calendars on a shelf because you aren’t good at tossing stuff, or because you ordered too many while everyone has gone digital? Toss ’em. (And why did HR order them anyway?) Do you know (or even have) file retention guidelines? Check them out and clean out anything that has been retained too long. On the more figurative end of things – have you cleaned out the employee handbook of all the rules that just don’t make sense anymore, or that were written because of that one exception that happened in 1997? It’s time to thin that handbook down.
  2. Review your standard training, and upgrade something. Do you still have harassment training that is almost laughable? Is your safety training based on the words “Be careful”? It is likely time to get serious about training that creates accountability. Don’t just expect employees to check the box that they attended something – get them something meaningful and build a demonstrated behavior into that training.
  3. In that HR closet are a lot of clean up tools. The ones every supervisor relies on you having when they screw up. Time to take those tools and give them to the people that make the messes. Did your Momma clean up every mess you ever made? I don’t think so. Teach your folks not to make messes with HR practices, and then how to clean up when they mess up.
  4. You probably have a vendor or two in that closet, providing you some service or another that isn’t really paying a dividend. When was the last time you bid out some of those services? Are you locked in based on relationships and lunches, or because the value you get is worth every penny. Can you identify, for every $ you spend on a service, where the ROI is on that expenditure? Could those precious resources be better spent elsewhere?

My view of HR is that we serve the business. We are an enabler of getting things done that move the results in the right direction, and helping move employees on the path of continuous improvement. We can’t serve the business in that way if we aren’t also being of service to employees. Not tending to HR policies and regulations, but tending to the practices that engage your organization and keep them enthusiastic about the future. If you’ve got crap in your closet, you likely aren’t bringing them the best you can.