Let’s be honest: the past 18 months won’t be remembered fondly. Cancelled Christmases, fuel shortages, holiday chaos… it’s no wonder all of us might have been feeling stressed out or not our usual selves!

Whilst the world of work has experienced a huge shift to maintaining positive wellbeing during these challenging times, the Office for National Statistics has seen a worrying trend of rising workforce anxiety and levels of unhappiness. With that in mind, it’s critical business leaders step up and look to protect the wellbeing of their staff.

staff meditate wellbeing

Luckily, the challenge of maintaining staff wellbeing and mental health can be made a lot easier by powerful HR software, because…

1. It can help you thoroughly investigate the real causes of staff absence

The effects of Covid-19 aside, staff absence due to illness is something that every business has to contend with – after all, staff needing time off due to being unwell isn’t unusual. However, if your organisation has experienced high levels of absences, HR software with HR analytical tools can help you identify specific trends or patterns which could indicate the root causes – meaning you’ll be better prepared to manage sickness absence.

Now, it’s important to note here that using analytical and insight tools to analyse your absence data won’t instantly give you the causations – a common misconception when talking about this type of subject. What analytical and insight tools will do, is graphically represent where there is an issue, give the vital clues you need for identifying areas worth further investigation, and the correlation for the issues, such as:

  • Specific absence reasons
    Drilling down into the specific reasons why people are taking sick leave can help highlight red flags that you might not be able to see from just a top-level view. For example, your absence data may indicate that more staff are taking unplanned leave because of muscular skeletal issues, as opposed to being signed off sick because of stress. With this information in mind, you can then look to investigate whether there are problems with the physical working conditions of your organisation and target the real source of that absence.
  • Identifying patterns and trends
    When you’re able to visualise and review data it’s easier to answer questions such as, are absence levels increasing more in one part of the business or in a specific job role? Are mid managers regularly taking more sickness absence than managing directors? Are there any obvious correlations with changes in personnel, team leaders or staff churn? Are teams under pressure to get more done with fewer resources and as a result, missing targets? Marry that up with data collected during check-ins, performance reviews or exit reviews, you can start to identify if employees could be over-stretched or under engaged.
  • Avoiding an over-reliance on top-line figures
    Being able to granularly visualise your HR data can help you avoid being fooled by your top-line data, meaning you can start to identify underlying factors that could be driving your final figures. For example, your overall absence levels could be in-line with expectations or industry figures but disguise that one part of your business has a much higher level of sick leave. You can then ask the question about whether this is a one off – perhaps a whole department was hit by a virus – or if there is something more systemic that needs to be addressed.

Basically, when you’re able to ask the right questions using HR Analytics, it will provide those vital avenues for you to explore so you don’t waste time chasing red herrings or jumping to conclusions. This means you can more accurately start to identify if:

  • Staff are becoming disengaged with their jobs
    It’s a simple fact that if you don’t enjoy doing something, you won’t be fully engaged in the experience. You may have employees who have become disengaged with their roles and, as a result, will have no qualms about making excuses not to work. Using analytical tools can help uncover patterns and trends that can help you pinpoint the reasons behind the disengagement. In addition, Bradford Factor tools featured on powerful HR platforms can be a better way to flag up a problem with specific employees – meaning HR teams or managers can then refer to an individual employee record to see if there’s perhaps a trigger event that’s led to the disengagement.
  • Management style, harassment or bullying is leading to absence
    Alongside staff disengagement, another trigger of absence can be a poor company culture that can be caused by poor management style or harassment from other co-workers. Your HR data may be able help you pinpoint if a change in personnel or team leader could have contributed to higher levels of absence in specific departments, and give you the vital clues in order to investigate further.
  • Mental burnout or low morale
    When someone is physically unwell, the signs are often clear to spot. However, poor mental wellbeing, burnout and general poor morale can be a lot more difficult to recognise. Being able to visualise and drill down into your absence data could help you see if there are specific triggers or events that could have contributed to higher levels of mental stress in your company. Of course, there may well be external factors too and your HR system won’t have all the information, but it can certainly point you in the right direction.

2. It can help ensure your employees are valued

Speaking of low morale, one of the worst things that can affect an individual’s sense of wellbeing is a lack of recognition for a job well done. If you’re going out of your way to help your employer reach its goals but your efforts are not rewarded or even acknowledged, it can be just as harmful to your mental wellbeing as more ‘traditional’ worries; such as job insecurity or difficult working relationships.

The fact is, if you’ve gone above and beyond in your role on countless occasions but are not recognised for your efforts, it’s unlikely that this type of positive behaviour will continue as, well, what’s the point? A good HR software solution can help you get employee recognition right and boost that all-important company culture and sense of individual self-worth.

3. It boosts HR wellbeing

It’s worth remembering that important business data is often hard to collate and as a result, key dates can get missed, senior managers can lose trust in your team, and everyone ends up getting frustrated – why not remove these barriers altogether?

Using powerful HR software that’s designed to make the job of an HR professional as easy as possible means HR teams can work smarter, not just harder!

With the role of HR often stressful at the best of times, it’s in an organisation’s interests to make their jobs as simple and stress-free as possible. So, if your HR team is buried in paperwork, struggling with out-of-date systems, manual processes, or simply not able to lay their hands on the latest data, it’s bound to impact on their performance and perhaps their own wellbeing, too.

4. It can help with ensuring regular check-ins

Regular and meaningful check-ins are something that employees really do value. Not only is it an opportunity for employees and managers to discuss work, performances and goals, it’s also simply a moment to ask that all important question ‘How are things for you?’Vector of hands holding letters that spell Check-in

It can be challenging for team managers to keep up with regular check-ins and they often take a fair bit of organisation to arrange. HR software can support those all-important check-ins by providing a collaborative online forum where employees and reviewing managers can easily schedule and record check-in conversations. This is not only great for employee engagement, but also helps in facilitating those all-important conversations between employees and their line managers.

5. It can actively support career development and training

It’s a given that people want more than just ‘a job’ these days. In fact, when global technology firm IBM asked 14,000 consumers what employers should offer to engage employees, workers placed work-life balance (51%) and career advancement opportunities (43%) at the top of their list of priorities. Even with a healthy jobs market right now, it seems many employees would be willing to stick with their current employers if they have the chance to hone their own skills and climb the career ladder with them.

This is where having a great HR system really helps. HR software that supports career and succession planning can assist businesses to effectively manage the careers of their employees; providing the tools and insights to help organisations better plan for the future of their people and their business. Better still, it can also ensure employees also have a say in their own progression.

6. It can provide essential resources for self-help and mental health support

Lastly, intuitive HR software should feature HR portals; essentially an internal communications hub where employees can access helpful information about their workplace and communicate with their colleagues. For supporting staff wellbeing, an HR portal can be a vital tool as it can act as a focal point for essential self-help resources and links to supporting organisations.

Mental health issues can be a difficult subject for people to talk about openly; but by providing access to resources and guidance in one easy-to-reach place, you can help your employees get the help they might need and empower them in the process to seek out advice on mental wellbeing and mental health support if they feel they’re not ready to reach out for more formal help.

Employers have a duty to look out for the mental wellbeing of their employees: perhaps now more than ever – and HR software can play a critical role in helping them do just that.

Paul Bauer author image

Paul Bauer

Paul Bauer is the Head of Content at Cezanne HR. Based in the Utopia of Milton Keynes (his words, not ours!) he’s worked within the employee benefits, engagement and HR sectors for over four years. He's also earned multiple industry awards for his work - including a coveted Roses Creative Award.