Changing Workplace Habits

The status quo – do what’s done, do what’s easy.


Often we can become so familiar with a process, with a certain way we do things, that we don’t even question it. This happens all the time, your early morning routine, the route you take to work, the way you make your tea. These routines are so familiar that they have become automatic processes. This doesn’t mean you can’t change them, it just means that when you execute these tasks, your conscious brain is minimally engaged. So when you’re driving to work, you may be thinking of what you will have for dinner later that evening and planning your shopping list. You may arrive at work and not even recall your journey.

This is a habitual behaviour.


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What is a habit?

We engage in a huge number of behavioural habits everyday. In fact, we need them in order to survive. By delegating certain familiar tasks to our subconscious we free up our conscious brain to be alert for new situations and potential dangers. Habits are created in the deepest, oldest part of our brain – the basal ganglia and brainstem – formed in the early stages of animal evolution. These structures are responsible for a range of emotional, cognitive, and movement functions, including habit formation. Behavioural patterns are ingrained into our neural pathways and can be deconstructed by examining the neurological loop at the core of every habit. This neurological loop consists of 3 parts – a cue, a routine, and a reward. Understanding these elements is essential for understanding bad habits and forming new ones.

A cue is anything that triggers a habit, for example, a time of day, a location, an email, a person, or an emotional state. This immediately precedes the behaviour – an afternoon slump may trigger the craving for chocolate, receiving a candidate’s CV may trigger a certain way of processing the document. The cue tells the brain to go into automatic processing mode. The routine is the behaviour we refer to as the ‘habit’, and the reward provides positive reinforcement for the behaviour. Rewards can be tangible (eating chocolate) or intangible (saving time).


Pros and Cons of Habits

Generally, habitual behaviours are extremely useful – imagine how little we would get done in work if we were continually assessing the best way to do every little task. Particularly, in the HR and Recruiting industry there is barely time to deal with the backlog of administrative work, let alone assess the productivity of processes. Case in point – a recent report by Resource Solutions (Recruitment Outsourcing Insights Report 2018reveals that big data analytics adoption is at only 9%, despite the fact that 96% of HR Managers consider Big Data to be instrumental in the evolution of the HR function. HR managers are simply too busy to research and implement data analytics solutions despite the clarity of its value.

Often, there is much to gain from pausing and asking – ‘Is there a better way to do this?’. Sometimes, a new way of working may be waiting to be discovered, but because we are so familiar with our current processes, we may never realize that we could be significantly improving the way we work.


Particularly today, with accelerating developments in technology, more discerning leaders will recognize the benefits of regular reassessment of internal processes. High performing competitors will inevitably find and implement more efficient and effective ways of working, and no matter how hard your team is working they will always fall behind if their tools and technology are out-of-date. However that’s only half the battle. Once you have decided to change how you work, you must start to form new habits to ensure you stick with the new, more effective process.


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Out with the old, in with the new

Identify the routine

What is the process that is causing challenges for you and your team? Is there an opportunity to replace a manual, time consuming process with a digital solution? Tread carefully when deciding what process to innovate because without a strategic justification new technologies can consume resources with long integrations, complex training processes and support for technical challenges. Assess what technology could really elevate your team and reduce time consuming administrative processes. For example, recruitment companies are spending excessive time formatting candidate CVs to branded templates. In this case, the problematic process or ‘routine’ is manually formatting CVs. customers are replacing this process with our automated CV formatting platform. This requires no integration, is intuitive and easy-to-use, and will save recruiters significant time in their working day.


Evaluate the rewards

Will you still achieve what you need by changing your process? Will changing the habit yield even greater rewards? Using an automated CV formatting tool, not only will the recruiter be rewarded with a branded reformatted CV, they will save up to 7 hours a week of manual administration, reduce time spent on tedious administration, and achieve consistency and standardisation across outgoing CVs.


Isolate the cue

The problem with habitual behaviours is that they are hard to change. Adapt your cue so you can engage with the new process with minimal friction. A common tactic is providing physical cues for yourself. For example, many customers ensure our SaaS solution is accessible through a shortcut on their desktop.


Changing habits is challenging but by investing time to reinvent a process, or simply by slightly adapting the way you work, you will reap long-term benefits. facilitates recruitment companies to become a more human-orientated agency by reducing the time spent on tedious administrative CV processing.