Oxford Immunotec, an international leader in their field, faced a number of challenges in managing HR across a diverse and global workforce.
The HR team was finding that the admin load associated with day-to-day transactional work, such as managing annual leave and absence, was hampering its ability to operate at strategic level.
The complexities of the global workforce also meant they were having to work with multiple currencies as well as numerous different sets of employment regulations. It was becoming clear that their existing HR software system just wasn’t fit for purpose.
“We needed a cost effective, flexible solution that would meet our complex needs and was capable of growing alongside the business,” says Director of HR, Hayley Mackenzie.
Solving the performance management challenge
Finding a system that would help streamline performance management was also a priority for the business. The existing paper-based system was slow and not always applied consistently. US-based managers were also finding it difficult to hold performance reviews with direct reports in Europe, which meant some staff were missing out on important conversations about objectives and priorities.
“It’s extremely important that managers work with their teams to set objectives that are focused on what the business needs to deliver – and of course having a clear understanding of what’s expected is also important for people’s personal performance and motivation,” says Hayley.
The Performance Management module was introduced in June this year to support the process of mid-year reviews. The company’s existing appraisal process was transferred onto the system, with the help of the support team at Cezanne HR.
Employees are now able to complete an on-line form reviewing how they feel they have progressed against their core objectives, which are set at a formal annual appraisal in January.
The information is submitted via the system to their manager to prompt them to arrange a one-to-one meeting (or in the case of remote teams a Skype call or webinar) to discuss progress. Any actions agreed as a result of the review are logged on the system and are accessible to both manager and employee, making it easy for them to check back on progress at any point in the year.
The more formal appraisal, which takes place at the beginning of the year, is the time when training needs are identified. Previously, the HR team would have to trawl through all the appraisal reports to extract the information about training and log it on a separate spreadsheet.
With Cezanne HR, this time-consuming task will no longer be necessary – the system simply pulls the necessary information through and stores it in one central place, making it easy for the HR team to get an overview of corporate training needs.
“The system is just making the whole performance management process much more uniform and efficient and is saving so much time,” says Hayley.
The ability to approach performance management consistently has been particularly important for the business, given that the rating given to employees after their appraisal is directly linked to their salary increase and bonus. “We have trained managers in the US and UK on how to use the system, which has also provided an opportunity to reinforce the importance of performance management and the fact it needs to be done in a consistent and fair way,” says Hayley.
Feedback from users so far has been positive. “It will take a year for people to see the full benefits of the system, but colleagues particularly have welcomed the change and are telling us they are finding it easy and straightforward to use,” says Hayley.
Building employee engagement
The business is also keen to take advantage of the social platform that comes as an integral part of Cezanne HR. The portal, which gives employees a virtual space where they can access information, share work and collaborate on projects, is already being used to house HR policies and documents, with a view to it eventually replacing the company’s intranet.
Going forward, Oxford Immunotec plans to use it to encourage greater networking and to build employee engagement within the business. “It has so much potential and we are really only just scratching the surface at the moment,” says Hayley.
Easy and straightforward to use
In the year since Cezanne HR was launched, the business has reaped enormous benefits in terms of saved time, better use of resources and increased efficiency.
Managers have been able to lead their teams more effectively thanks to the self service element of the system, which allows them to easily authorise annual leave requests and get a calendar view of who’s off when so they can plan resourcing. They are also able to monitor absence, make sure the necessary paperwork is completed and pick up early on any trends that may be emerging in their teams.
Employees have welcomed easy access to policies and processes and being able to manage and update their own data. The business itself has found the system to be extremely cost-effective – some of the features that originally attracted it to Cezanne’s HR software were the low set up costs and the pay-as-you-go fee structure, which allows for monthly subscriptions to be adjusted – up or down – to reflect the number of employees being managed at any one time.
Hayley has also found the solution to be much more flexible than she had originally anticipated.
“Flexibility was one of the reasons we originally opted for Cezanne HR but it has proved to be even more flexible than we thought in terms of being able to adapt to the way the business works,” she says.
“The support team have also been brilliant and are very quick to respond to our questions. As a small fast-growing company it is really nice to work with a similar business who have the same relatively informal approach and understand our needs.”