I used to share an office with the HR assistant and one of the production coordinators. It was super tiny for 3 people, our desks and the filing cabinets which housed the personnel and training records for 400+ employees.
During lunch one day, the HR assistant said she believed our files may be out of compliance after reading an article about recordkeeping.
I started to freak out! Had I missed some changes to the law?? Was I allowing things housed kept in files that could get us into trouble?!? And if I was, where was I going to find time to audit and correct 400+ employees!?! Where was I going to find space in our already tiny, crowded office???
I paused every other project I had going on and started researching. I check with my boss to see if he knew of any law changes. I checked online. I check with my other HR friends. I even called my mother.
I found nothing.
I asked the HR assistant to find and bring me the article. It was from some HR newsletter recommending all these “cutting-edge” ways to maintain records to better ensure employee privacy was kept.
Don’t get me wrong. The recommendations were great. But we didn’t have the need or the space to make those changes! And now, I was mad at myself for getting in a tizzy and wasting time on this.
Sadly, that wasn’t the first time that happened to me. But it would be the last!
HR often gets sent on wild-goose chases for new, cutting-edge ways to do stuff that there is really no need, time, budget or manpower to take on. Sometimes, we do it to ourselves after reading an article or book that tells us another way is better, faster and less risky way to do something.
Each organization is different. Different sized staff. Different sized office space. Different sized budgets and resources. Our responsibility is to stay legally compliant while maintaining confidentiality and privacy in our recordkeeping with the resources we have available.
We hurt ourselves and undermine our profession with unhealthy comparisons to others. Instead, we should focus on taking HR from ideal to real in a way we are proud of and that can withstand legal scrutiny.
That doesn’t mean ignoring advice or concerns. The legal landscape that impacts HR is always changing. It is hard to keep up! And it is always possible a new regulation has popped up requiring you to adjust your handling of things. So, when a compliance issue is brought to us, we should always give it due diligence to ensure we don’t miss anything major.
However, we shouldn’t just stop what is working or what we’re working on every time something new comes our way. HR has to evaluate proposed changes to determine if, why, when and how it will best fit into our plans. Unless the law requires it, we don’t have to make changes unless we want to and until we’re ready. This isn’t a luxury HR gets too often! Take advantage of this leeway to fully assess options and determine an action plan for the organization you serve. Then move from the ideal to the real at the pace that works best for you.