Thursday 31 October 2019 – 1 year ago. Jan, the HR Manager for Crow and Bat Enterprises started the day like any other. Her alarm went off at 7am, she hurriedly got ready for work, rushing the children out the door so she could drop them at school before arriving at her desk promptly at 9am, and that’s when she realised something wasn’t right …

halloween hr

On her way to her desk, she’d passed a line of new faces, all looking lost and unsure if they were in the right building. Were they the new hires that were meant to be starting in marketing today? Jan looked over at the empty desks in the marketing team, wondering where the laptops for the new starters were, and for that matter, where was the marketing team? Who was going to meet and greet the new recruits? There was something fishy going on.

Jan turned her laptop on to see if there were any emails that could shed light on the situation. She noticed her inbox was a bit light this morning – why weren’t the usual announcements there from the business’ leaders? They were normally very active in posting on their HR system’s workspace – what was going on?

Finding nothing in her inbox that could shed light on the marketing team’s whereabouts, or who was looking after the new starters, Jan thought to herself, I’ve had enough of this! I’m logging into my HR system to find out what’s what!

And that’s when she realised what the problem was!

There was no HR system – no favourite link that she was used to clicking on every morning. No app on her phone. Nothing. There was nothing there!

In a panic, Jan ran out to reception to greet the new starters herself. She quickly explained that there must have been a mix up about the day they were meant to start – feeling very embarrassed and thinking this must all look very unprofessional – and asked the new recruits if they wouldn’t mind starting tomorrow instead. Mortified, Jan offered to pay for them all to have brunch at the café across the road, hoping that if nothing else it would be a great way for them to get to know each other.

As Jan walked back to her desk, she passed Barry from finance – she asked after the marketing team and he said that word at the water cooler was that they were on an away day, but without a system with a calendar to check, no one was quite sure exactly what was going on.

With the new-starter crisis temporarily adverted, Jan made a mental note to check on what had happened to their HR system … just as soon as she completed the performance review she was due in at 10am.

She was meant to be sitting down with her HR assistant to run her through her first formal appraisal, and she was looking forward to recapping all the great conversations they’d had in their check-ins over the last year, and highlighting all the goals that had been achieved. But suddenly Jan realised … I can’t remember everything we talked about over the last 12 months! And I don’t recall the goals we set last year clearly enough to have a proper conversation about them! I need HR systems.

Postponing the performance review to the following week, Jan felt like her day was rapidly unravelling! It was time to get to the bottom of what had happened to her HR system.

Jan asked her HR colleagues if they knew anything – they looked at her like she’d spent too much time in the sun! What HR system? What was Jan talking about?

Jan asked IT if they knew anything. They also looked at her blankly … a system that can manage all of your HR needs, covering the full employee lifecycle, and it’s held conveniently in the Cloud? ‘You must have knocked your head and woken up in a fantasy land, Jan’, they said! Everyone knows you have to do all of that manually and in lots of different programmes.

As Jan headed to the ladies to splash some water on her face, she started to hear a beeping noise … She wondered, ‘Where is that noise coming from?’ The beeping got louder, and Jan’s vision started to swim …

And suddenly she woke up! It was 7am and time to get ready for work. Jan had never been so happy to turn on her laptop and log in to her HR system as she was that day – Halloween, 31 October 2019!

Shandel McAuliffe author image

Shandel McAuliffe

Now based in sunny Australia, Shandel is prolific writer and editor - particularly in the world of HR. She's worked for some big names, including the CIPD and the Adecco Group. And more recently, she's been the Editor for new HR publication HR Leader.