COVID-19: how to keep your people strategies on track

HR teams are facing unprecedented demands on their time. Hot on the heels of managing the first, fast adjustments to the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic – moving to remote working, furloughing staff, reducing headcount – comes the need to prepare for further change, and plan for the ‘new normal’.

How do HR teams ensure that business leaders have the information they need to make effective decisions, that employees and their managers can work together effectively and, at the same time, organise for a future that is still uncertain?

hr system support covid

We asked our support team to share our customers’ main concerns, and how they are using Cezanne HR to help their people and their business in this challenging time. Here’s what they told us.

1. Furloughed employees are the new priority

Staying up to date with the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has become a matter of urgency for many organisations. HR teams are using Cezanne HR to balance the admin this scheme entails, alongside meeting the needs of individual employees and the wider business.

With Cezanne HR, you can:

  • Ensure easier compliance, by:
    • Keeping a record of when employees agreed to be furloughed using the document generation and e-signature functionality. According to the Treasury direction, a copy of the communication must be kept for at least five years.
    • Automatically calculating entitlements to paid time off, which continues to accrue while your employees are furloughed.
  • Enable accurate reporting, with the option to:
    • Flag and report on furloughed employees to support current resourcing and future planning.
    • Generate reports that help with claiming employee wages plus Employee National Insurance and pension contributions from HMRC, via the new Payroll module.
  • Keep in touch easily, so furloughed employees stay part of your community, by:
    • Creating personalised emails and letters, or using the employee portals and workspaces to share company news, invite feedback and answer questions.
    • Allowing employees to check and update their own information, perhaps to check holiday entitlements and submit time-off requests, or update emergency contact information.
    • Recognising individual development, encouraging furloughed employees to use the time to learn new skills – and to tell you about it by updating their personal profiles.

2. Adjusting to new absence rules and realities

The new regulations covering COVID-19-related sick leave, together with the fallout from reducing working hours or allowing higher leave carryover, have meant extra reporting and responsibilities for HR.

Customers have been quick to put in place new options for self-service, making it simpler for employees to report the reasons for their absence – for example, because they have the virus, are self-isolating, or looking after someone who is ill. Once the absence is logged online – from a PC, tablet or smartphone – the system automatically updates their record and notifies the employee’s line manager. It’s then much easier for the business to arrange appropriate resourcing, and for HR to generate the reports they need for payroll processing.

Where working hours have been reduced, entitlement to paid time off can be recalculated at the click of a mouse and, looking further ahead, we’re already having conversations with customers about how the system will support the relaxation of mandatory time-off.

3. Productivity and performance are rising on the agenda

Finding ways to help employees to focus on achieving their goals is good for business, and good for employees. But, with COVID-19 bringing so many distractions, it’s often easy to lose sight of the priorities – and the priorities have probably changed over the last couple of months, too.

One of the ways we’ve seen organisations helping keep staff on track, is by putting in place regular check-ins and goal reviews: semi-formal conversations where employees and their managers review immediate priorities, agree goals, discuss progress and work together to overcome any barriers.

These conversations can be recorded in Cezanne HR. This makes it much simpler for everyone involved to stay on top of their own activities. Updates and comments can be posted at any time, automatically triggering notifications, so managers know when to offer praise – or when to step in to help.

Learn more about the Performance management module:

performance management

4. Compliance is an ongoing issue

The statutory duties businesses had before COVID-19 haven’t gone away. Even with staff furloughed and offices shut, organisations still need to comply with a wide range of legislative requirements, from Health and Safety at Work to GDPR, and from Working Time Regulations to ensuring holiday is taken (albeit in the context of the new carry over rules introduced by the Government). Right to work checks still need to be made, mandatory training or certification kept up to date, and entitlements to time off and pay calculated accurately and in line with the latest government guidance on, for example, furloughed employees or those caring for relatives with COVID-19.

Cezanne HR dramatically reduces the burden of ongoing compliance, freeing up more of HR’s time to focus on other priorities. For example, with Cezanne HR you can:

  • Easily generate, distribute and track documents – for instance, to ask employees to self-certify that their remote place of work complies with health and safety requirements, that they are following your data security rules, or to record that employees have agreed to be furloughed.
  • Keep data and documents safe and GDPR compliant, by managing them within the system and taking advantage of advanced password protection, embedded encryption and the option of dual authentication.
  • Track hours worked with online timesheets and digital clock in and out, plus ensure requests for Time off in Lieu are properly approved and recorded, so hidden hours don’t breach working time regulations.
  • Automatically calculate entitlements to paid time off based on working time patterns, legislation, public holidays and your company rules. With Cezanne HR, it’s also easy to run reports that show holiday taken to date and still to be taken to help with planning, plus adjust carry over, ensuring that when allowed, eligible remaining entitlements will be automatically carried over to the next year.
  • Trigger reminders when important dates, such as renewal of mandatory training – or documents, such as self-certification or fit to work notes – are due.

5. Communication is more important than ever before

There has never been a time when organisations have relied so much on HR professionals for insight and guidance as they do today. However, providing so many people with support when so much is changing, is far from easy. Online calls, team chats and have an essential role to play in framing expectations and keeping connections personal – but of equal value is an HR portal or information hub where managers and employees can go to find the latest updates.

We’ve seen HR teams setting up workspaces that allow them to share key information with different groups of employees, invite feedback and answer questions. Internal policy documents and FAQs can be supplemented with links to authoritative and frequently updated websites, like the Government’s Coronavirus hub or the advice from Acas, ensuring the latest information is all in one place and easy to find.

It’s also easy to generate personalised communications directly from the Cezanne HR system. Once you have your template, just upload it to the system, pick the group of employees you want it sent to, and the system takes care of the rest.

See how portals work in Cezanne HR:

Performance management video cover

To discover how Cezanne HR will help you better support your workforce and your business during the COVID-19 lockdown – and beyond – why not book your no-obligation online demo today? With our fast setup service, and our team of UK-based product experts on hand to help you, we can have you up and running and connected with your employees in just a few weeks. We’ll even upload your core HR data for you for free.

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