Many HR teams are using outdated technology to manage HR cases – is it overdramatic to say this puts employee relations at risk? It certainly leaves HR teams under strain. Ken Naismith, Workpro CEO, shares his experience from helping senior HR professionals overcome common issues in HR case management.
Even before Covid-19, switched on HR leaders were looking for better ways of managing casework – fair, consistent handling of employee issues plays a key role in organisational success.
However, many HR professionals we speak to are still firefighting, valiantly trying to keep track of HR cases using spreadsheets and email, with documents stored in various places. Others are using ticketing software or outdated systems that are not fit for purpose. There comes a point (in our experience typically around the one thousand employee mark) when there are just too many issues and too many regulations to rely on these disparate tools, and a new approach to HR case management is required.
As well as securing the right technology for their central HR team, many businesses we deal with are seeking to empower line managers to manage their own routine HR cases more efficiently.
20 typical challenges
We identified as many as 20 challenges the organisations we work with were facing before adopting a new HR case management system and the tools helping them now. You can check these out in more detail here.
Not every business will face every issue of course, but across many industries we find the solutions boil down to 4 main must-haves:
- Keep all HR case information and activity in one centralised system, so you know exactly what has or still needs to be done – when, and by whom.
- Use a workflow system to guide staff through a consistent, compliant process that guarantees fair treatment for every employee.
- Capture every case, right across the business, to get richer, more accurate management information and genuine insight into employee relations in your business.
- Use those data insights to drive efficiencies and savings. Monitor case outcomes, spot recurring issues, get at root causes to identify training needs or service or process improvements.
Why does this matter?
The pandemic saw an overnight shift to remote working for many, with HR teams suddenly physically distant to employees and their colleagues. Even once the crisis has passed, the ‘hybrid workplace’ – offering a mixture of home and office working – is likely to become commonplace.
These ‘new ways of working’ bring challenges in communication and collaboration, data security and access. HR cases – everything from grievance and disciplinary to long-term sickness cases – can be particularly complicated, sensitive, and challenging to keep track of – even when everyone is in the office.
In the meantime, employee experience is now a key focus, with a new well-connected, social-media-savvy generation expecting more from their employers. Well-being came to the fore during the Covid pandemic, with mental health cases soaring. Inequality issues have also been highlighted through recent events in the news.
Tracking trends and analysing root causes of issues has become vital to maintaining good employee relations. To do this well requires good data and clear visibility of what’s going on across the organisation.
Value for money
Using the wrong tools costs businesses. There is the cost of man-hours wasted maintaining multiple systems, duplication of work and creating documents from scratch. Then there are the potential costs of fines or court costs from accidental deviation from correct procedures or lack of data security.
You may be surprised at how cost-effective modern case management technology is. Prices start at around £12,000 for an out-of-the-box system for a small-medium HR team. Some offerings provide a complete HR case management solution, designed in conjunction with professional HR caseworkers – no compromise on functionality or quality, with investment protection built-in. Others charge separately for different case types or functions. Most are scalable to any size of team or business, and costs per user usually reduces as numbers increase.
While some providers will want to create each system from scratch, you can easily find a solution that will provide common case types out of the box, including email/letter templates and reports – often pre-configured for common HR processes, enabling quick deployment. Thereafter, customisation to match specific policies, needn’t be too costly or time consuming.
A good HR case management solution will be designed to work alongside existing HR systems, like payroll, so your HR technology investments will be protected. Some “all encompassing” payroll systems offer modules for casework but our experience is that, frankly, many people find this route expensive and unwieldy to deploy – there is relatively little money in case management compared with the main business of time and attendance and payroll systems. That ignored area [of case management] has become a niche market for specialist providers.
A Casework Operations Partner in a large UK Public Sector organisation said: “The HR team enjoys a greater degree of control over their workload. The service provided to the business, as a result, has improved, with easier reporting to line managers on case status, for example, as well as reduced turnaround time for case handling.”
What about line managers?
Line managers also play a huge role in maintaining good employee relations. How do you equip them to manage any issues that may arise in their team? And how do you make sure this happens fairly and consistently across your business?
Many organisations we speak to are looking at increasing self-service capabilities for line managers while ensuring there are effective escalation routes in place for the trickier HR cases requiring HR professional support.
I must declare a vested interest in the following example – a new Portal which has been designed to provide a clear, intuitive case management tool for line managers. It includes collaboration tools for support from the central HR team as needed. With every case logged, actioned and reported on within one system, the HR team and their managers can see exactly what is going on throughout the business.
Designed following extensive UX (user experience) research, the Portal ensures line managers have all the tools and information at their fingertips to manage cases the right way. They can:
- Log cases directly into the Portal, with the case record also visible to central HR.
- Be guided through the correct process with easy-to-follow forms.
- Upload case documents to be securely stored against the case record.
- Manage case tasks via a dashboard that clearly highlights case status and action needed.
- Access policy information and training through quick links on their dashboard.
- Send and receive case-related communication within the Portal.
- Highlight and escalate priority or sensitive cases quickly.
Together, a case management solution for core the core HR team, used with a Portal for line managers can streamline everything into one system that gives everyone confidence that HR cases are being handled in the best possible way – and that employee relations are getting the focus and resources they deserve.
Workpro HR case management software is developed by Computer Application Services Ltd – an employee owned technology company. Visit www.workpro.com