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10 Things You Should Know About HR That They’ll Never Admit

10 Things You Should Know About HR That They’ll Never Admit

The Human Resources (HR) department is ubiquitous to all companies. It is uniquely positioned, to interact face-to-face with everyone who works in the company. Here are things to keep in mind about HR that they’ll never admit openly.

1. Tough Empathy

An employee who approaches HR with his or her problem, is met with a “friendly-face.” HR staff are trained to provide a sympathetic ear to employee problems. But when resolving problems, HR will follow company policies. Due to policies which are structured behind closed doors, problems get suppressed under bureaucracy, and resolutions may never see the light of day. Tough empathy frustrates the employee and HR staff in equal measure.

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2. Risk Aversion

In most companies, HR are not people who are independent thinkers or who stand up as a moral compass, nor is HR the top choice for smart and ambitious graduates out of college. Moreover, executives who move to HR are usually corporate exiles – people who fared poorly in meatier roles. As a result, people manning the HR department are averse to risk, and prefer taking the safer approach to any problem. This does not always augur well for the employee, as the HR steadfastly stands behind the best interests of the organization, instead of standing up for the rights of the employee.

3. Customer Satisfaction

Performance appraisals from HR staff is linked to the satisfaction of the managers. As an employee, if you have concerns or issues regarding management, this implicit bias comes in the way. Just as you never bite the hand that feeds you, similarly, HR hesitates to confront the managers on issues raised by employees.

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4. Equal Treatment

HR professionals are required to retain the top talent within an organization. These “top performers,” get preferential treatment by the HR department. HR focuses specifically to cultivate and challenge employees who make a difference in the workplace. It is futile to fight against such preferential treatment. But the unfairness can be leveraged in your favor provided you are considered valuable by the HR department.

5. Workplace Mediation

Dispute resolution in the workplace is an important HR function. When going into a mediation, know that the burden of proof lies with the accuser. If the accusations are not backed by sufficient evidence, the mediations quickly turn into talk-fests. Moreover, HR mediates to protect the company’s interest. If your interest is not aligned with the company’s interest, then you should think again before going to HR.

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6. HR Metrics

HR has details related to the attrition or vacancy rates in the company. But, if someone asks, why is a position not filled, then in defense HR does not have a “time to fill” metric to argue with a non-HR person that its record in filling up positions is above average. Better data fosters increased credibility within an organization. Until companies adopt Big Data approach to analytics, HR will not have the tools necessary to influence non-HR people.

7. Budget Cuts and Recession

The ongoing recession and budget cuts have forced companies to trim down HR departments. These cuts hurt HR departments as much as the other departments. The next time you grudge HR for laying off staff within your team, do spare a thought for HR staff themselves. They are under a tremendous struggle to reinvent themselves and to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of delivering services in the context of a shrinking workplace.

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8. HR Matters!

HR is responsible for annual performance appraisals, as well as employee welfare and management. Their opinion on you, as an employee, does matter. One should have a positive relationship with HR. After all, you do not want HR to overlook you the next time there is a possibility of a promotion, or a pay hike.

9. Beware

Beware of what you discuss and share with HR. The HR department is not obligated to keep your information confidential. These days, HR is part of our digital social networks and news feeds. Be careful of what you share in these places. However, if HR finds any activity that is illegal or against the interest of the company, then they will be forced to take action against you.

10. Background Checks and Workplace Monitoring

Routinely, HR runs a detailed background check on employees. Most HR departments have access to online monitoring platforms that dig a lot deeper than you imagine. Once hired, your activities are monitored in the workplace. One need not be paranoid, but HR knows much more about you than you think they do. All of this information can be used against you when it suits the company’s interest.

Featured photo credit: Mathew Dent via flickr.com

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

We all have those days when completing our assigned tasks seems beyond reach. With the temptation of social media, mobile games, and the internet in general—not to mention the constant bustle of people in the office—it’s easy to fall prey to disruptions and distractions at work.

So, what can we do about it? How to be productive at work?

While we don’t have a foolproof system that can completely eliminate disturbances and diversions, we do have 9 ground rules that can be applied to help give your productivity levels a boost.

Keep reading to find out our tips on work productivity.

What Does It Mean to Be Productive?

How to be productive at work?” is the age-old question plaguing employees and employers alike around the world. Regardless of where you work and what you do, everyone is always looking for new ways to be more efficient and effective.

But what does being productive actually entail?

Completing more tasks on your list or working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being more productive. It just means you’re more busy, and productivity shouldn’t be confused with busyness.

Productivity means achieving effective results in as short amount of time as possible, leaving you with more time to enjoy freely.

It involves working smarter, not harder. It means refining processes, speeding up workflows, and reducing the chances of interruptions.

Productivity is best achieved when looking at your current way of working, identifying the bottlenecks, flaws, and hindrances, and then finding ways to improve.

9 Ground Rules on How to Be Productive at Work

1. Avoid Multitasking

Multitasking can give the impression that more tasks can be accomplished as you’re doing multiple things at once. However, the opposite is true.

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Research has shown that attempting to do several things at the same time takes a toll on productivity and that shifting between tasks can cost up to 40 percent of someone’s time.[1] That’s because your focus and concentration is constantly hindered due to having to switch between tasks.

If you have a lot of tasks on your plate, determine your priorities and allocate enough time for each task. That way you can work on what’s urgent first and have enough time to complete the rest of your tasks.

2. Turn off Notifications

According to a Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of US smartphone owners admit to checking their phones a few times an hour.[2]

Switching off your phone—or at least your notifications—during work hours is a good way to prevent you from checking your phone all the time.

The same applies to your computer. If you have the privilege of accessing social media on your work desktop, switch off the notifications on there.

Another good tip is to logout from your social media accounts. Therefore when you feel the urge to check it, you might be swayed because your page isn’t so easily accessible.

3. Manage Interruptions

There are certain disruptions in the office that are unavoidable such as your manager requesting a quick meeting or your colleague asking for assistance. In order to deal with this, your best approach is to know how to handle interruptions like a pro.

Be proactive and inform the people around you of your need to focus. Turn your status on as “busy/unavailable” on your work chat app.

If you’re on a deadline, let your colleagues know that you need to concentrate and would really appreciate not being interrupted for the moment, or even work from home if that’s a feasible option for you.

By anticipating and having a plan in place to manage them, this will minimize your chances of being affected by interruptions.

4. Eat the Frog

Mark Twain once famously said that:

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“if it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

What this basically means is that you should get your biggest, most urgent task out of the way first.

We all have that big, important task that we don’t want to do but know we have to do because it holds the biggest consequence if we don’t complete it.

Eat the frog is a productivity technique that encourages you to do your most important, most undesirable task first. Completing this particular task before anything else will give you a huge sense of accomplishment. It will set the ball rolling for the rest of the day and motivate you to eagerly complete your other tasks.

5. Cut Down on Meetings

Meetings can use up a lot of time, which is time that can be used to do something useful.

You have to wait for everyone to arrive, then after the pleasantries are out of the way, you can finally get stuck into it. And sometimes, it may take a whole hour to iron out one single issue.

The alternative? Don’t arrange a meeting at all. You’ll be surprised at how many things can be resolved through an email or a quick phone call.

But that doesn’t mean you should eliminate meetings altogether. There are certain circumstances where face-to-face discussions and negotiations are still necessary. Just make sure you weigh up the options prior.

If it’s just information sharing, you’re probably better off sending an email; but if brainstorming or in-depth discussion is required, then an in-person meeting would be best.

6. Utilize Tools

Having the right tools to work with is crucial as you’re only really as good as the resources you have at your disposal. Not only will you be able to complete tasks as efficiently as possible, but they can streamline processes. Said processes are essential to a business as they manage tasks, keep employees connected, and hold important data.

If you’re the manager or business owner, ensure your team has the right tools in place.

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And if you’re an employee and think the tools you currently have to work with aren’t quite up to par, let your manager know. A good team leader understands the significance of having the right tools and how it can impact employee productivity.

Some examples of tools that could be used:

Communication
  • Slack for team chat and collaboration.
  • Samepage for video conference software.
  • Zendesk for customer service engagement.
Task Management
  • Zenkit for task and project collaboration.
  • Wunderlist for listing your to-do’s.
  • Wekan for an open source option.
Database Management
Time Tracking
  • Clockify for a free tracker.
  • TMetric for workspace integrations.
  • TimeCamp for attendance and productivity monitoring.

You can also take a look at these Top 10 Productivity Tools to Help You Achieve 10x More in Less Time.

7. Declutter and Organize

Having a disorganized and cluttered workspace can limit your ability to focus. According to researchers, physical clutter can negatively impact your ability to concentrate and take in information.[3] Which is why keeping your work environment well ordered and clutter-free is important.

Ensure you have your own system of organization so you know what to do when the paperwork starts to pile up.

Being organized will also ensure that you know where to find the appropriate stationery, tools, or documents when you need it. A US study reveals that the average worker can waste up to one week a year looking for misplaced items.[4]

Here’s a useful guide to help you declutter and organize: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)

8. Take Breaks

Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining productivity at work. Working in front of a computer can lead to a sedentary lifestyle which can place you at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even a 30 second microbreak can increase your productivity levels up to 30 percent.

As well as your physical health, breaks are also crucial for your mental and emotional wellbeing. That’s because your brain is like a muscle, the more it works without a break, the easier it is for it to get worn out.

Ensuring you actually take your breaks can prevent you from suffering from decision fatigue. It can also help boost creativity.

Take a look at this article and learn why you should start scheduling time for breaks: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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9. Drink Water

Although we know we should, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water during the working day.

Many of us turn to tea or coffee for the caffeine hit to keep us going. However, like taking breaks, drinking water is essential for maintaining productivity levels at work. It’s simple and effective.

Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration and also headaches, tiredness, and weight gain.

A good tip to avoid dehydration is to keep a water bottle at your desk as it can serve as a reminder to constantly drink water.

If you find the taste of water a little bland, add some fruit such as cucumber or lemon to give it a better taste.

You can also get more ideas on how to drink more water here: How to Drink More Water (and Why You Should)

The Bottom Line

The preceding 9 ground rules on work productivity aren’t the be-all, end-all. You and the company you work for may have other tips on how productivity is best increased and maintained.

After all, it’s something that can be perceived differently depending on the exact job and work environment.

In saying that, however, the 9 ground rules serve as a good foundation for anyone finding themselves succumbing to disruption and distraction, and are looking for ways to overcome them.

A good tip to keep in mind is that change doesn’t happen overnight. Start small and be consistent. If you slip up, just dust yourself off and try again.

Developing habits happens gradually, so as long as you keep up with it, you’ll soon start to notice the changes you’ve been making and eventually enjoy the fruits of your labor.

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Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

Reference

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