10 Reasons to Ditch the HR Spreadsheets

Why are you still using spreadsheets for your HR data?

Many HR people rely heavily on spreadsheets to help them record key people-related information. It’s an approach that works well when you are managing just a handful of employees or want to work with a very specific set of data.

The reality is: using HR spreadsheets once the business starts to grow and staff numbers increase isn’t going to cut it.

The admin associated with tasks such as approving time off, recording sickness and managing performance soon becomes unmanageable. Before too long, there comes a point where spreadsheets are no longer fit for purpose and the HR team needs to look at other solutions (like HR software) that will help them free up time and do their job more effectively.

Here are 10 reasons why it’s time for your business to step up from the spreadsheets:

1. They are insecure:

Spreadsheets are typically held on PCs or laptops and frequently emailed back and forth between colleagues who need to update them or access information. It’s easy to forget to password-protect them, which leaves confidential information at risk.

2. They are easily corrupted:

When a spreadsheet passes through numerous people’s hands, it is all too easy for the information to get corrupted. Although it is possible for people to go in and deliberately change figures or add misinformation, often data is changed accidentally. Someone who doesn’t understand the capabilities of spreadsheets can easily misplace key information, changing key macros or deleting data by mistake. If spreadsheets are being emailed back and forth and sometimes being accessed on unprotected devices, they are also more prone to becoming infected with viruses.

3. They are often out-of-date:

A company’s HR data changes almost constantly – new joiners/leavers, changes to contact information, dependents or bank details, time-off, sickness, training qualifications… the list is endless! It’s almost impossible to key all of that information into spreadsheets as soon as you get it. For example, the HR team may be under pressure and fall behind with recording the latest absence reports, or a busy manager can forget to record when a member of their team has taken paid time off. With HR software, all of the information goes straight into the system – and processes are automated too.

4. They add to the paper trail:

A lot of HR’s time is taken up with tedious and time-consuming activities, such as: updating employee contact information, answering questions about benefits, routing requests for time-off approval or chasing up on missing doctor’s notes from extended sick leave. Spreadsheets don’t automate processes, they don’t send alerts and they don’t provide a central library of information. HR systems, especially those with modern employee self-service, do.

5. The business has no central source of information:

HR teams are often juggling numerous spreadsheets; there is one for absences, one for training and another for recording employee reviews. And to make things more complicated, different departments probably have spreadsheets of their own. When duplication and inconsistency are intertwined in your HR data, it can become unreliable. HR software systems cut down on all this unnecessary admin, providing one central place where all HR information—from basic employee data to HR policies—can be safely stored.

6. It’s difficult to access real-time information:

In an environment where HR information is housed on spreadsheets, a request for data from the senior management team can throw everyone into a panic. People are rushing to establish which version is the most current and making sure the latest data has been input. The latest generation of HR software systems, however, consolidate the data in one central place and make it securely available 24/7—making it easy for managers to access the information they need to inform strategic business decisions.

7. They are time-consuming:

A spreadsheet-based data system can take an excessive amount of time to manage. HR people often find themselves inputting the same information into more than one spreadsheet or having to dig through one spreadsheet in order to extract information and put it onto another. HR software systems streamline the whole process, cutting down on admin time significantly and allowing HR to concentrate on the more value-adding aspects of its role.

8. They are not easily accessible:

Spreadsheets are usually designed to be used by just a handful of people. Much of the data is confidential – and has to be ‘sliced and diced’ before it can be shared with others in the organization. Even with straightforward requests like, ‘how many paid days off does my team have left this year?’or ‘who was off sick last month?’ managers have to go through HR. This leads to frustration and delays when people can’t access the information when they need it.

9. They are not joined-up:

Spreadsheets don’t allow you to ‘connect the dots’. Typically there will be a separate spreadsheet for each HR process or even each department – and no easy way for managers to make connections or spot trends. Is there a link, for example, between a dip in performance and unusually high absence rates? Is short term sickness more of a problem in one area of the business compared to others? HR software systems bring all the key information together and make it much easier for the business to see the big picture.

10. Spreadsheets are slow:

Spreadsheets slow everything down. It takes time to input information, you have to laboriously check the data to make sure it’s up-to-date and extracting information takes time. In a vibrant, fast-moving environment where HR teams are being expected to deliver more than ever before, it simply doesn’t make sense to carry on using spreadsheets when software offers such a fast, cost-effective solution to managing HR processes.

Is your business still wedded to its spreadsheets? See our advice on how to make the business case for switching to HR software.

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