Guest blog: Chris Berry, CEO at CIPHR.
CIPHR’s SaaS HR systems sit at the heart of hundreds of UK client organisations, serving tens of thousands of staff members, both here and abroad. Clients include: Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, ZPG (Zoopla Property Group), The White Company, Fred Perry, Natural History Museum, Biffa, NHS24, The Lawn Tennis Association, The Electoral Commission, PlusNet, S4C, The Big Lottery Fund, Greggs, Laterooms.com and M&C Saatchi.
Technology is providing HR with access to data insights and analysis on a scale that was traditionally the preserve of sales and marketing. It’s automating tasks in ever more valuable ways – helping avoid costly mistakes such as breaches of compliance or employment law.
Administration tasks are being increasingly automated. And automated reports are allowing HR to contribute more significantly to financial decisions.
In a nutshell, technology is helping to elevate the HR team’s role in the business.
This begs the question to chief executives: have you skilled up your HR team for the best possible business outcomes?
How can HR technology help your business?
The Taylor Review of employment practices
What will the Taylor Review mean to your business and how much will it cost?
HR technology will show at a glance how many part-time or self-employed (even volunteer) staff you have, compare the hours they have worked, and calculate holiday or sick pay that should possibly be considered.
It can even help calculate whether bringing these members in on permanent part-time contracts would be more cost effective.
Recruitment and retention
Analysing data collection in, say, the recruitment field, already provides business insights on a scale that used to be reserved for the marketing and sales teams. In the future we’ll probably see greater data analysis as a key HR function, rather than a sideline matter, as it sometimes can be now.
Technology can ensure sure the way applicants first come into contact with companies conforms to the branded experience those companies offer across all their access points.
Automated systems will help you decide how much it would cost to retain good staff longer. Sometimes a modest pay bump proves less expensive in the medium to long-term than managing regular churn – taking into consideration the cost of management time in sifting through shortlisted CVs and conducting interviews, along with advertising costs and recruiter fees, and the lower productivity to be expected of new employees as they find their feet.
Technology enables HR to speak with authority on the cost of staff turn over and credibly compare that to the cost of incentives for staff retention. HR can look at how much recruitment, onboarding, induction and training has cost, comparing it against the length of employment. It’s possible to arrive at an agreed preferred figure for these costs and apply them against a target length of service.
Well-researched decisions can be made very simply, with all this information gathered in online software and arranged into reports for the C-suite in a few keystrokes.
Increased regulation is also elevating the importance of the HR team.
They have a key role to play in meeting upcoming requirements such as GDPR, (General Data Protection Regulation), and the Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SMCR) which will be extended to about 60,000 UK SMEs next year. The implications of Brexit are impacting HR as they prepare to handle any employment changes introduced. Already the team should be able to tell you how many staff members hold passports that would be affected, how difficult their skills might be to replace, and whether the company will have to offer a higher salary to replace them. And on top this, it’s essential the team gets your gender pay gap reporting right.
Costly employment disputes
If things go wrong and companies find themselves in a dispute that might lead to an employment tribunal, good HR systems could mean the difference between a costly payout and a satisfactory resolution.
Making sure the complete trail has been captured and is auditable is often the first line of defence in employment disputes. Automated systems can ask employees to keep their own personal details up to date and make sure they have checked a box to confirm they understand, and agree to, employment terms and conditions before a contract is finalised.
A clear employment lifecycle, connecting training to expectations discussed in appraisals, capturing attendance and all other relevant details, becomes essential in disputed situations.
All these issues have taken HR out of the realm of the back office and placed their work firmly on the C-suite’s business agenda. In addition to which, despite HR’s higher workloads and increased legal responsibilities, along with every other department, it is pressured to keep costs down. Technology is proving to be the key asset in delivering on these difficult expectations.
The value of technology
Systems currently provided over the internet are automating many tasks that used to take up a lot of HR time, triggering legally required actions, chasing up performance review reports, updating personnel details, making sure professional expectations are communicated and accepted, training arranged, holidays booked appropriately, and so on.
All this is freeing up the HR team to concentrate on the areas of their work that could be seen as having a higher value to the business, such as effective recruitment, higher retention of good staff, and managing staff better when things go wrong.
So, sparing HR team members for a day while they train up on new technology is going to prove a valuable investment, not just because it future proofs an individual’s employability, but also because it embeds the right skills to future proof the company.
Don’t resist sending HR staff out of the office into a learning environment. What they absorb ambiently will enhance the value of the training. An increased immersion in the subject matter will lead to an increased confidence in it when they return to the office to apply those skills.
Increasingly, professional bodies are acknowledging that technology is a key driver behind the HR profession’s evolution.
The emphasis on professional development through technology training shows an acceptance of the real pressures HR faces now, and the need to develop building blocks for meeting future expectations.
In the case of CIPHR, the Continuing Professional Development Standards Office has assessed and accredited each one of our training courses. Since June this year, all CIPHR courses count toward 5.5 hours of formal continuing professional development requirements for professional bodies, institutes and employers.
This direction of travel bodes well for the whole HR sector, encouraging professionals to keep their tech skills up to date, and raise the value of HR in the eyes of the C-suite.