Your overtime sheet or holiday request form sits in the manager’s in tray while they are away on business for five days.

An employee rings HR to ask how many days remain from their holiday entitlement.

HR is asked for a report on absence in department X by the manager.

Whilst recruiting, applications are sent to the HR department and then redistributed to the hiring managers. In some organisations, an HR presence is required at interviews, ostensibly to explain the benefits package.

All of the above are examples of ‘friction’, where something impedes smooth progress from client to objective. ‘Frictionless’ is a term we hear more and more right now. It started with examples of ‘frictionless customer experience’, demonstrating the mindset of a business that presents the right product or service to customers at the right moment and in the right channel (paraphrasing Jiaqi Pan, CEO of Hello Umi).

Frictionless is something that HR practitioners must strive for, and they have the benefit of technology – in the form of good HR systems – to achieve just that. Removing obstacles between our internal customers or our organisation as a whole and their requirements should be an essential part of the HR mission.

Reports, once configured to order, can be available on demand directly to those who need them via the self service system; no need for HR to act as gatekeepers or interrupt their activity to run a report or look up an employee’s holiday.

Forms such as for overtime, holiday requests and sickness certification can be generated by the employee and channelled by way of work flow to the signatory who can access and approve electronically regardless of their current location.

The arrival of new employees can be communicated effortlessly by notifications from the system circulating to all interested parties, e.g. reception, switchboard, facilities and induction teams, leading to a much warmer employee experience on arrival.

Recruitment modules can deliver applicant submissions direct from website or job board to the hiring manager’s inbox, and of course, prospective employee benefits packages can be explained by online means.

Even newer software itself has been designed to have less friction; fewer screens and keystrokes are needed to perform standard transactions.

The point of all this is not only can we cut out superfluous steps in processes, but there are bonus gains in time saved and, importantly, higher satisfaction for the ‘customer’, which brings us back to Jiaqi Pan.

We are living in an era where speed of access has engendered lower thresholds of patience and attention span. We need to ensure that our processes are simple and direct, and that we fully harness the benefits of our HR system to deliver ‘frictionless’ to our own HR customers.

Denis Barnard author image

Denis Barnard

Denis Barnard is acknowledged to be a leading expert in the selection of HR & payroll systems, and other HRIS, both inside and outside the UK. He has been instrumental in leading successful selection and implementation projects in a wide range of sectors, including local government, Higher Education, publishing, music industry and manufacturing. His recently-published book “Selecting and implementing HR & payroll software” has been acclaimed by leading HR practitioners.