Level out the workload (Heijunka)
I love what we do to some of our departments. We engineer processes so that they are optimal for us, but certain downstream participants in the process are not always considered.
In many organizations, January is the perfect time for performance reviews and pay raises. Often the pay raises are executed at the beginning of the year or at least sometime in the first quarter. Often, those raises are backdated to the first of the year so that a retroactive calculation is required. At the same time, many organizations use a benefit enrollment period in the last calendar quarter of the year so that the new benefit premiums and the benefit plan years follow the calendar year. While many of us say that we don’t care about payroll other than the fact that we get paid (a big deal), HR consistently compounds the problems in payroll by forcing additional workload during their busiest time of the year – year end. It is at this time they have significant compliance processes to run as they balance and finalize taxes and prepare employee W-2’s. Now we’ve also made them deal with a new set of benefit deductions which we’ll be making ongoing corrections to and asking them to change, and we’ve asked payroll to ensure that the compensation changes we’ve made to almost all employees are reflected in paychecks properly.
When you level load a process, it’s important not only to consider the individual process, but all the consumers of that process. The entire organization as a whole must benefit from this effort or you’re just offloading a problem onto someone else. Level loading helps the organization by creating efficiencies in process, thus saving significant cost.