Tidying Up Your HR Practices
(Does it spark joy?)

The Breakdown

Unless you have been hiding under a rock, or maybe a pile of magazines you have been saving since 1972 (hmmm, hoarder jokes really aren’t that funny are they?), you have heard of Marie Kondo and her Netflix series, Tidying Up.  On the show, she asks one simple question about each individual possession, “Does it spark joy?”  Well, I think it’s time we apply this logic to our HR practices, but rather than sparking joy, maybe we ask if it sparks productivity?  Or drama? Or yawns? My failed attempt at making this more interesting by tying it to a popular Netflix series aside, have you taken a practical look at your HR practices lately?  Here’s a list of ways to get started:

1) Save the trees: Review all forms

As more and more companies move to paperless environments and electronic onboarding, they are at an even greater risk of missing an expiration date on an important form or continuing to elicit unnecessary information.  Think about it, when the hiring manager isn’t going over every form with the new hire, it turns out that they are not really thinking about what is there at all. For example, at my last employer I found a form called something like “Certification of Pre-Existing Physical Impairment,” that portended to protect the company from Workers’ Compensation liability should the new employee suffer an aggravation of that pre-existing condition.  A quick Google search revealed that the law allowing for this had been repealed long before my arrival, so they were just collecting this private medical information for funzies. YIKES! Needless to say, that form was immediately retired.

2) Consider what’s codified: Update policies and procedures

Holy ever-changing regulatory landscape, Batman!  I would wager that there has never been a time that policies and procedures have had to be such living documents.  Sometimes it feels like sweeping regulatory change is happening on the daily. Tell me, does your social media policy pass muster?  Where’s your breastfeeding moms policy? Does your drug-free workplace policy take into account synthetic substances? Does your smoking policy include vaping?  Oh, and do you have to pay exempt employees $47,476, or not? What is the minimum? I hope you didn’t take any time to search that because GUESS WHAT?! It’s $23,660 today, but it’s probably going to change in the next few months.  

3) Root out the Why: Revisit long-standing practices

Have you ever asked yourself why your receptionist has to make a bank run every morning?  If she is only depositing checks, is there a more efficient electronic way to make the deposit that doesn’t require her to risk her life at the unprotected left on the busiest street in town?  I remember watching an HR manager react to a first report of allegations of harassment by scheduling in-person internal investigation interviews AND requesting written statements from the exact same employees at the same time.  Would it make more sense to send questionnaires regarding the incident to the employees, then only interview the ones who actually had relevant knowledge? Probably. But that’s the way that we’ve always done it, she said. How about your interview process; are you still asking female candidates to provide their previous salary?  Oh yes, that favorite interview question is now linked to Equal Pay Act violations (you pay her the same amount that she was making + she has historically been paid less than her male counterparts = you are now perpetuating her being paid less than her male counterparts). The rut is real folks. We do things the way that we have always done them, just because we do.  Is this happening in your HR practices? Consider your processes like internal investigations, compensation, or workers compensation reporting and ask yourself if there are unnecessary, duplicative, or outright illegal practices.

4) Peruse your payroll: Equal Pay violations can sneak up on you

Some employees got well-deserved, hard-earned, 100% merit-based raises last year.  Others didn’t. Do you have any idea whether those raises created the appearance of impropriety?  Equal Pay Act violations wouldn’t still be a thing if implicit bias didn’t exist in some managers, somewhere (not yours, not here, not today, no way!).  Equal Pay Act audits basically require that you compare apples to apples.  This means that you compare men and women in the same establishment who perform jobs that require substantially equal skill, effort and responsibility under similar working conditions.  The only differences in their pay have to be justified by one of the following: (i) a seniority system; (ii) a merit system; (iii) a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or (iv) the ever-so-elusive “a differential based on any other factor other than sex.”  But it doesn’t really mean “any” factor because there are plenty of factors that would raise other discrimination concerns.  Are we having fun yet?

Human Resources Experience, LLC, would love to assist you in “Kondo-ing” your HR practices.  Together we can set you up with culture-driven HR and proactive legal initiatives in order to create a truly exceptional workplace.