Access to modern technology is one of the key factors employees consider when deciding whether or not to accept a job, according to a report in this week’s HR Magazine. A Laptops Direct survey of over 2,000 adults found that one in three candidates would turn down a job if the company’s IT was not up to scratch. Having the latest technology was ranked more important than other office ‘perks’, such as flexible working, a pleasant office environment and staff discounts.
The research is in tune with the findings of other work done recently by the Institute for Employment Studies (IES), who looked at changes in the world of work and how HR practitioners needed to respond. They found that millennial workers had high expectations about the speed and accessibility of technology and applications they would have access to at work, and were often frustrated by lack of provision or flexibility to use their own mobile devices.
A key recommendation of the joint IES/HR Magazine project was that HR practitioners need to start tailoring their HR ‘self-service’ offering in order to optimise the employee experience of the brand and the business. In other words, it’s not just about the practical benefits of automating systems and providing access to up-to-date tech – it’s also about the perception that employees have of the business and how forward thinking it is in general.
The challenge for HR is that investment in HR software can sometimes get pushed to the back of the queue in favour of customer-facing or finance systems, even though thanks to the advent of Software-as-a-Service, it is now available at a cost that’s accessible to even smaller companies. Here are five reasons why practitioners need to fight their corner and show the business how adopting the latest HR technology can have a real impact on the productivity and engagement of the whole workforce.
It delivers a service employees value
The nature of our working lives today is fluid. Employees are often working outside of conventional hours, from different locations, using mobile devices. They are not necessarily sat in the same office every day, in front of a computer, with regular face-to-face contact with their manager. An HR software system that is hosted in the Cloud makes it easy for employees to manage their personal data quickly and securely, from wherever they may be. They can up-date their bank details without worrying about missing the next payment run, check their holiday entitlement and get a quick answer to a request for leave or log sickness absence. At a time when we typically manage everything from our mortgage to our car insurance on-line, HR software provides a level of ease and accessibility that employees quite simply expect to have in their working lives.
It helps employees connect
We are in an era of constant change. Business priorities shift, new roles and responsibilities emerge and reporting lines alter. A good HR system will come with a centrally housed ‘people’ directory that can be quickly and easily up-dated. It makes it easier for employees to identify the right person who can answer a question or help them move a project forward. Many systems come with internal social portals which also allow employees to build the strong internal networks they will need if they are to share ideas, collaborate effectively and work with colleagues to find new and innovative ways of doing things.
It facilitates team-work
People are increasingly working in dispersed teams, across geographical and time boundaries. The team calendar function that comes with most HR software systems is a useful tool for both managers and team members alike. It provides a big picture view of who is on leave or available, for example, making it easier to resource projects and make sure vital roles are covered during peak times or when someone is away on holiday or off sick. Cezanne HR’s software system also allows users, with permissions, to look at other team calendars too, making it easier to manage multi-disciplinary projects or assess whether support may be available from another team if needed.
It supports succession and career development
A good HR system can do much to support both succession planning and career development. The organisation has an overview of what skills it has available and can identify skill gaps and training needs. HR and senior management can work together to identify critical roles, see who’s coming up in the talent pool, assess their level of readiness and plot the impact of likely moves. HR systems can also bring transparency and consistency to the performance management process, nudging managers when appraisals are due and providing a central place where they can record goals and targets and update as necessary. From an individual standpoint, employees can track their progress, remind themselves of priorities and feedback and make sure that any training that’s been agreed actually happens.
It improves access to information
In a fast-moving and busy organisation, people don’t have time to waste searching for documents, guidelines and processes. HR systems provide a central portal where important HR documents, such as the disciplinary and grievance procedure or sickness policy, for example, can be easily found. It can also be used to house vital health and safety information and details of any company ‘rules’ employees need to be aware of – as well as instructions on how to claim for expenses or access benefits or discounts. It saves both HR and line managers valuable time, cuts down on frustration and allows teams to get on with their jobs.