In 2014, Deloitte published a study entitled “The Overworked Employee” which highlighted the fact that employees have too much access to information and how this negatively impacts work productivity. One way to address this growing problem is to simplify work processes and HR systems.

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Work simplification means thinking about the best ways to do the task in order to save time, energy and resources. It also means accomplishing more tasks within a given amount of time. The concept of work simplification was introduced in the 1930s and it advocates for people who are actually doing the job to recommend ways on how to improve it. The management, on the other hand, must demonstrate commitment to work simplification and trust their employees. For specialists in time study, work measurement and methods analysis, the best way to encourage employees to think creatively is to give them incentives to make improvements. To ensure the success of work simplification method, it is important to involve as many employees in all levels of the organization. There should also be a session that will motivate the employees to be fully engaged and committed in implementing work simplification. The employees must be given training in improvement methods and tools. Work simplification involves the following steps:

  • Selecting a task/tasks to improve.
  • Getting all the facts.
  • Making a process chart.
  • Challenging every detail, asking all possible questions; listing possibilities and improving necessary details.
  • Developing the preferred method.
  • Introducing it.
  • Checking results.

Work simplification has been implemented in many companies and organizations across the world and most of them have been successful in delivering cost-reducing and profit-increasing innovations. In the public sector context, work simplification involves clarifying and simplifying regulations internal to the government. One of the realities of working in and within the government is the cumbersome paperwork it entails. While some procedures are necessary and justified, some are simply redundant, bureaucratic, and excessive. Red tape in the government often involves filing out unnecessary paperwork, and complying with too many administrative procedures such as in starting a business. Simplification strategies in the government should be promoted to reduce regulatory complexity and uncertainty, and at the same time, to cut the red tape in the bureaucracy.  Implementing simplification strategies in the public sector benefits the employees, the agencies, and ultimately the citizens transacting with the government.  For employees, simplification would reduce time and resources allocated doing the paperwork and this will give them more time to do their actual work. For the agencies, simplification would make the delivery of services more effective and efficient. For the citizens, it would mean having a more accessible public services.

Work simplification, like most productivity and quality tools, must be adopted for the long-term and should fit the whole-of-government perspective. Some of the things to consider in implementing simplification efforts in the public sector are the measurable objectives, resources, timing, outcomes, and monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) came up with a list of good practices that will ensure the success of simplification in the public sector.

  1. Long term and high political support;
  2. There should be an institution specialized on administrative simplification at the center of government overseeing and running the administrative simplification strategy;
  3. The strategy should have clear objectives with reasonable deadlines;
  4. There should be a multidisciplinary team working on administrative simplification trained with a vision for change, who are creative, assertive and who have strong analytical capacities;
  5. The administrative simplification strategy toolkit should include: i) the use of better regulation, ii) organizational reengineering, iii) the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) tools, iv) better information and service to citizens and business, and v) the creation of synergies between administrative requirements.
  6. Incentive mechanisms should be used to promote a “reform” approach to administrative simplification;
  7. The public administration as well as other stakeholders should be included in a three-fold communication action plan: i) general communication, ii) training and iii) consultation processes;

There should be a monitoring system in place that systematically reports to higher authorities and to the general public.