Einstein was famously quoted saying “Make everything as simple as possible…”.

Keep it Simple may sound like common sense for some however, making a product or process simple takes a lot of work.  For large companies it is the latest transformative concept being used to recruit and retain good employees. Technology is now enabling large companies to offer employees more control over their work life. How you ask? It starts by giving people more flexibility over when and where they work. For instance:

Virtual office environments and collaboration tools are enabling people to work from where they feel most comfortable whether it’s at home, in a coffee shop or at the office. Large employers are realizing that people don’t need to be in the same physical location or even in an office to collaborate effectively and that employees are more productive when they can choose where they work.

Employee portals provide access to information and people on demand and now guide employees through essential processes so that they get the right information tailored to them at the right time. Employees can complete their on boarding paperwork, quickly build their internal network by connecting with coworkers, managers and other colleagues, find courses and training programs and manage their benefits from one place. 

Sounds good but like with all technology the effectiveness depends largely on how it is implemented and embraced by the organization. For example virtual offices can be plagued by the same types of biases as physical offices if the focus is still on presence [people logged in] rather than performance.

Transparency is a key ingredient for an initiative like Keep It Simple to be truly transformative.  Companies need to be transparent about the things that matter most to employees like pay and performance measures.

Compensation: Pay is still a problem for most companies largely because salary history is still a function of the compensation formula or at least a benchmark used to set future pay. What people were paid in the past or at another company has nothing to do with the value of their contribution in a new role.  Replacing salary history with a base pay for everyone would eliminate past inequities especially for women and minorities and properly value the work being done.

Performance measures: Job descriptions rarely make the priorities of a job clear. Often they contain a long list of duties but rarely spell out how success on the job will be measured. Think about it….what is the elevator pitch for your job?  If you can’t articulate what you do, your job description is likely too vague and it’s time for a chat with your manager. If you have a pitch, try it out on your manager. It’s probably the fastest way to find out whether you’re in sync or if there is a gap in understanding that needs to be closed.

We all have lists of things that we’d like to do and then there are things that we have to do whether we like it or not. If we want people to focus on things that they have to do for the company to succeed, the nice to dos have to eliminated from the job description. In fact it may be time to replace “job descriptions” with job summaries that highlight the top 3-5 responsibilities and personal qualities needed to succeed in the role. Make them real so that employees can see into the job [be transparent about a day in the life] and decide whether it’s right for them now or not.

About the Author: Shannon Smith is a strategist with over fifteen years of experience helping companies achieve greater success.