Angela Pitts

What is your relationship with paper? I personally could do without it and I do… now. My office is almost completely paper free; with the exception of a binder with a few of my notes and must-have documents. Everything else is kept electronically. But this hasn’t always been the case.

Years ago my staffing office was filled with a large three drawer filing cabinet, each drawer packed full. I used the top drawer on a regular basis, but didn’t look at anything else on a monthly or even bi-yearly basis. I remember looking at it one day thinking, why do I keep it all? I had fallen into the trap of needing to keep every last thing on the off chance that one day I’d need to look at it. In fact, my whole office had fallen prey to the same thinking. Each of my staffing specialists had a filing cabinet in their offices filled with various forms of paperwork.  How many times had my staff spent a Friday afternoon cleaning out their office, which basically meant organizing their mountains of paper! We needed to make a change.

I wanted to go completely paperless, but knew this was far too ambitious for our current situation. I settled with starting on applications, our biggest offender.

  • Get the staff on board. From my past experiences I knew that change was difficult for the staff to handle, even good change.  We had a meeting to talk about the pros and cons of getting our paper application situation under control.  One staff member tightly grasped her paper applications, a sure sign that she wasn’t willing to give them up without a fight.  I knew she was going to be my personal challenge on this project.
  • Put together a step by step plan. People deal better with change when they understand it and know what is going to happen.  I’m not saying everyone was excited (especially not my paper lover) but they were able to understand how the process was going to work.  As a group we talked about how to process applications via our software (too bad we didn’t have Avionté Staffing Software); how they would share information with our clients, how they would keep them in their “hot” files and not let anyone slip through.  The group came to the conclusion that if they used the search feature in our staffing software it was faster and more efficient than keeping them in piles on their desk.  We had a feature in our software that allowed them to e-mail the client a copy of their application or resume.  It wasn’t the ideal solution as it e-mailed in fairly small print, but it worked and our clients enjoyed the reduction of paper faxes.
  • Put the plan in motion and become a cheerleader!
    • Steer applicants to our online application or use the kiosks in our lobby.  Our receptionist loved this one.  During our peak she was entering over 20 (on a slow day) applications a day, not leaving her time for any other projects.  We were able to cut down the number of paper applications by half!  Not only did this save on time, but printing costs as well.
    • No printing the online applications or resumes.  Properly update the skills, experience and test results so they will come up on a search.  This led to a reduction in staff time filing and finding lost applications and of course wasted paper!
    • E-mail clients the basic application (personal info not included).  Through e-mail we had documentation every time information was sent to a client and what applicant it was sent on.
    • Scan any additional information and add it to their electronic file.  Following the rule of touch a piece of paper only once, scan it, save it, shred it.
    • Find any and all opportunities to recognize staff following the plan!  Like any change, motivation is the key factor.  Although they found plenty of positives with the paperless initiative, they also wanted to go back to the familiar at times.
  • Give it time. As with any change, time is needed for people to feel comfortable.  I knew that from time to time the staff would revert back to old habits.  During one of my visits with the paper lover I noticed the piles of applications in her upper cabinet.  She had kept all of hers that were to be shredded, she wasn’t ready to let go.  As one of my top producers I didn’t want to disturb her groove.  We talked about a timeline to start letting go.  It took her a little longer than some of the others, but she was able to do it.
  • Take one step at a time. After all, the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

The project went well and we moved on to other sources of paper hogs. Although we were not able to go completely paperless, we did make a dent in our use of paper and found more ways to make our technology to work for us.

Has your office gone through a similar process? Let us know what you did? Would you do it the same way again or make a change?

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)