Melting HR bureaucracy

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The tastiest employment contract I‘ve ever seen.

German version here. We talk a lot about making HR processes more engaging and improving the employee experience. Software for employee engagement has grown, in the space of a few years, to more than a billion euro market.  Making HR processes easier and simpler is a big business.

Also in the last few years we have seen HR leaders take a public role in promoting the employer brand.  We hear a lot about purpose these days. Awards for best employer, best employee brand etc have become a booming industry in their own right. HR is trying hard to shed its image as a bureaucracy, and in many cases it has succeeded in simplifying and speeding up processes, whether in recruitment, learning, performance management or even payroll. My linkedin feed is well populated with HR leaders extolling their digital transformation projects, D&I initiatives and how well they have helped their organizations transition to work from home. This is laudable. HR needs to market what it does more effectively, so having HR leaders communicating with a broader, external audience is a good thing. HR famous is okay, but business famous is better.

But until this weekend, I‘d never seen an HR leader look to fundamentally transform the employment contract. They were always complex serious legal documents, filled with mighty words and long sentences with many commas, even in english. Getting the contract assembled and signed has always been the weak link in the onboarding process. It is when the slick recruiting process meets the legal 10 point font. Ordnung muss sein means lots of paperwork.
I was totally thrilled to see this contract from the Dutch Chocolate maker, Tony‘s Chocolonely. Yes this is the actual employment contract-

Chocolonely’s employment contract. (Reproduced with permission)

Kristel Moedt, the Head of People and Culture posted it on LinkedIn with these words.

“Did you ever think to join a cool, informal company until you got your new employment contract under your nose? 🤔 At least 8 pages with some very useful things in it and a lot of formal clauses you had to stick to? We did pretty well at Tony’s Chocolonely  but thought we could raise the bar 🍫
Together with Bruggink & Van der Velden  and employment lawyer 🚀 Daniël Maats we created our 1-page contract. We laid down the most important things and for the rest, we rely on mutual trust and common sense. And okay, there is a 2nd page with our values and promises we make to the new Tony.
Proud of this ‘ticket of trust’. Thank you 🚀 Daniël Maats  for your help and of course Tony’s Arno Bleeker for the cool design.

The comments are also worth a read. She notes they are working on a German version too.
This is the most impressive example of HR process re.design I‘ve seen ages. It is quite remarkable on several levels.

  1.  Profound simplicity and attention to detail
  2. It amplifies the company brand. Check out their website and marketing. This aligns perfectly.
  3. It shows that almost anything can be improved through thoughtful design
  4. It will make Tony‘s a very popular chocolate with HR departments.
  5. if you can do this to the employment contract, you can do it to pretty much any process.

I really like the “Ticket of Trust“ term. It encapsulates the employment brand promise of the company and the employee obligation to the company brilliantly.  The company brand focuses strongly on slave-free chocolate and social justice, so this reflects and amplifies that.

Well done to the HR team, the designer and the employment lawyer. This is genius. Time to buy some Tonychocolonely chocolate I think.

(Cross-posted @ Otter Advisory)

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