It’s not that long ago that HR software vendors touting their wares would focus almost entirely on the benefits of their latest system for the HR team. The message was that the product would cut down on frustrating admin, freeing HR up to concentrate on the more strategic aspects of its role.

As visitors to next week’s HR Software Show will find, however, times and technoloHR-software-on-multiple-devices (800KB)gies have changed, and suppliers have now shifted their focus beyond the HR team to developing systems that help all employees become personally more productive.

Yes, of course, software systems still have to be valuable for HR but, as HR guru Josh Bersin recently pointed out, the emphasis is now on user-friendly systems designed to engage employees, make their lives easier and help them move their performance up a gear. In as little as three years’ time, he predicts, forward-looking practitioners will be exploiting tools that will lead to a transformation from the HR department to the productivity department.

Here are five reasons why HR software can make your staff more productive:

It allows people to manage their own data

Gone are the days of having to worry about whether your bank account details will be updated in time for the next payroll, or having to wait a week for HR to tell you how much annual leave you have left or have your timesheet approved. The latest generation HR software systems aim to keep HR firmly in control of data and processes, but cut out time-consuming paperwork, allowing employees and their managers to manage their own data quickly and easily so they can concentrate on the day job.

It provides access to information on the move

The world of work is changing dramatically and employees are increasingly doing their jobs on the move, from a variety of flexible locations and across time zones. Thanks to advances in technology, we can now connect to office systems from pretty much anywhere at any time – and HR software is no exception. The newest systems are increasingly available across mobiles and tablets, allowing employees to find and process information at any time, from wherever they may be. This is not just about convenience. It also responds to the needs of valuable Gen Y employees, who have grown up in the digital age and expect instant, hassle-free access to the data they need.

It takes performance management up a gear

The problem with traditional paper-based performance management processes is that goals set during the annual appraisal are quickly forgotten and enthusiastic plans for training get lost in the mists of time (or the back of the filing cabinet). Performance management software makes the whole process much more dynamic and visible. Systems provide a central place, accessible to both manager and employee, where targets and agreed actions can be recorded. It’s easy for managers to revisit and adapt goals if the situation changes and to spot and tackle development needs as and when they arise. Automated systems also help to ensure appraisals and informal check-ins actually happen, by prompting managers when meetings are due.

It puts information at employees’ fingertips

Employees can waste huge amounts of time trying to access corporate knowledge, find answers to simple questions or put their fingers on the right document. HR software systems can help eradicate the frustration by providing a central place where information, policies and core documents can be housed, giving people access to the detail they need at the time they need it. Modern HR systems also remind employees when there’s something they need to do, like submit a timesheet or, in the case of line managers, approve a holiday, so help nudge key HR activities along.

It breaks down silos

The latest HR software systems come with internal social platforms which encourage people to collaborate, and gives employees a platform where they can share information and insights and work together seamlessly on projects. Online staff directories and org charts help everyone feel more connected, and make it easy to pinpoint the right person. It’s a great way to break down departmental barriers and get everyone working together towards common corporate goals.

You can find out more about how HR software can make your business more productive by visiting Cezanne HR on stand H420 at the HR Software Show, Olympia, 15/16 June.

Erika Lucas author image

Erika Lucas

Writer and Communications Consultant

Erika Lucas is a writer and communications consultant with a special interest in HR, leadership, management and personal development. Her career has spanned journalism and PR, with previous roles in regional press, BBC Radio, PR consultancy, charities and business schools.