March 6, 2013

Simplify: Get off the HR jargon-wagon

I firmly believe that small companies will dramatically increase their team’s trust by doing a better job on simple stuff like onboarding, time off management, payroll, and benefit enrollment.

That’s it. Fold in perks and things like performance reviews after a while, sure. But, do the simple stuff first, and do it well. That makes the biggest difference to employees and costs the least to implement. Another example of where simplification can reap huge rewards is with HR jargon.

HR speak is a foreign language for small shops

I’ve been doing a lot of research on HR process lately for obvious reasons. Most of what I’ve found is focused exclusively on larger organizations. Kin is focused on small companies, and so am I. I feel estranged by big terms like HRMS, HRIS, talent management, and human capital. They create a monster out of HR or some kind of science for the esteemed few.

The problem is, the small business world doesn’t seem to have its own jargon, so we end up using big words to describe our operations. It’s weird and foreign. It adds a layer of unwelcome abstraction between the company’s HR people and the broader team. That’s a death knell for a small workplace’s culture. We get a bit of it at We Are Mammoth from time-to-time. But while it’s a constant battle to get the tone and language right on all of those various HR documents and processes, it goes a long way towards ensuring it’s all presented in a meaningful, consumable manner.

Small companies don’t need jargon, just a culture of caring

So, the next time you really need to put a policy in place, challenge yourself to come up with some simple terminology and explanations. Include words and terms like “give a sh*t, communication, awareness, and employee experience”. Remember, your employees are your customers. Make sure they’re happy. Nothing else matters and jargon won’t impress them. Leave the big words to the big companies and their big complexities.

{Craig Bryant is a co-founder of We Are Mammoth, a software services and consulting firm in Chicago, and the founder and product manager of Kin.}

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