Companies seem to be falling into one of three camps right now. They are:

• Operating on the frontline of the pandemic, desperately trying to mobilise staff, redeploy people into critical roles and recruit additional temporary workers.

• Scrambling to keep the wheels of their business turning by getting as many staff as possible working remotely.

• Accepting it’s not feasible to continue as normal for now, and looking to furlough workers and access Government support schemes.

HR system computer covid-19

In all of these situations, a Cloud-based HR software system is invaluable. It means that employee data is instantly available from wherever HR may be, and allows staff to access important employment-related information via one central, easily accessible hub.

Here are eight ways an automated HR system can help, whichever situation your business finds itself in.

1. Up-to-date employee data

Contact information, salary details and employment history will all be accessible within a few clicks of the mouse, significantly speeding up communication and making sure you have the information you need at your fingertips. This will be particularly valuable if you are considering furloughing employees, offering the option to continue working on reduced salary, or having to think about redundancies.

2. A central repository

An automated HR system will give you a central place where employees can view policies and access the latest information about the company’s response to the Coronavirus and what is expected of them. In the current situation, employees are understandably anxious and have a lot of questions. Already hard-pressed HR teams will be able to reduce the need to deal with numerous individual enquires by posting documents which explain how a furlough scheme will work, for example, or how any changes to working arrangements will affect issues such as annual leave.

3. Sickness absence monitoring

With increasing numbers of staff either off sick or self isolating, an automated system will help you keep on top of who is absent, what sick pay they are due and when they are likely to return. This will be particularly helpful for those managing frontline workforces, where it’s critical to know who is available to work and when people are likely to return.

4. Team calendar

The team calendar feature available in most good HR software systems will help line managers see who is available, who is away (ill, on holiday or taking compassionate leave) so they can plan and resource critical projects. Those managing remote teams, where staff may be working unusual hours (due to home schooling for care commitments for example) will find this feature particularly helpful.

5. Internal collaboration

When people are working remotely and under pressure, they need to be able to find the right person quickly or get speedy answers to important questions. An HR portal can provide an up-to-date organisation chart, as well as a central place where people can ask colleagues for help and advice. One of the benefits of having this hosted in the Cloud is that it is easy to update – if, for example, reporting lines are changing because some people are temporarily away on furlough.

6. Document e-sign

There’s no need to risk important documents getting lost in email trails. The document e-sign function in an HR system will mean you can speed up the processing of contracts or agreements. This also adds an important layer of data security, with documents being held in a secure space rather than winging their way around the business as email attachments.

7. Annual leave management

With many questions now being asked about whether annual leave being accumulated can be held over, it will be important to be clear about exactly how much holiday people have left. An automated system gives HR a clear picture of how much leave is building up and can help inform decisions about how this will be managed going forward. For systems that have a self-service element, it will also be much easier for employees to access their own records and see how much leave they have left.

8. Performance management

A lot of people are working remotely from their managers, so performance management becomes more important than ever. An automated system will help remind managers when appraisals or informal check-ins are due, nudging them to have important conversations and providing a central place where discussions about goals and personal development can be recorded.

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.