Watching one of Nigella Lawson’s cookery programmes (yes I do, what of it?) I was struck by one of her comments that when it comes to cooking, “people confuse time-consuming with difficult”.
It seems to me that this is the same mistake that a lot of businesses apply to HR – and sadly it’s an illusion that many in HR like to perpetuate.
Take dismissing someone for example. “It’s hard to do” say some small business organisations and government ministers. “It should be made easier”
Actually, it isn’t hard to do. If you have an employee who can’t do the job, regularly breaks rules, is no longer able to work for you, undertakes tasks you no longer require, or with whom your working relationship has fundamentally broken down, then you can dismiss them. The time consuming but not difficult bit is that you have to follow a fair process before you make your decision. That means allowing the individual to put forward any mitigation at a hearing, letting them attend with a colleague or union rep and, if you do dismiss, allowing them an appeal.
Even the infamous TUPE regulations, which cause so many sleepless nights for employment lawyers and HR people, are – in 90% of cases – simply a tick box exercise: Have you consulted employees at the correct time? Have you supplied employee information at the correct time? Have you informed them of any changes that may be made post transfer? Are there any disputes about whether a particular person should transfer? Are there any benefits that can’t be replicated – and what are you doing about them?
Perhaps it’s the current expectation that everything will happen instantly (although businesses moaned about employment issues long before the advent of on-demand services). Or the assumption that what we don’t understand must be “complicated” (like rocket science, which is one of the simplest concepts there is).
Making a risotto involves stirring stock into rice for around half an hour. You could bung it all in a microwave for 5 minutes but if you did you’d end up with an inedible mess. Complying with employment rules is like making risotto – it’s not difficult but you need time to get the right result.