Home » Tag: HR help desk

The Potential Risks of Multi-language Capability in HCM Business Solutions

multi-language in HCM solutions

More and more companies, both large and small, are building a multi-national presence. These organizations often have employees in several countries, speaking different languages. Even domestic businesses may have a multi-lingual workforce, commonly with workers speaking Spanish, French, and multiple Asian languages, for instance. In those companies, the ability for HR to effectively communicate with this diverse group is critical to success.

The most comprehensive HCM software solutions, such as LBi HR Help Desk, offer multi-language support, often via integration with Google Translate. HR staff and employees have 2-click access to over 90 different languages, which translates each page on the fly and remembers the user’s selection every time they log in.

That may work fine when translating drop-down menu items and static text, but what about freeform text boxes? What happens with common slang expressions or regional colloquialisms in the translation process? What happens if the employee’s or HR’s true meaning is literally lost in translation? Google Translate does a fine job with standard text words and phrases, but doesn’t always properly convert slang and similar idioms. Even the most comprehensive translation engines can get it wrong all too often.

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Rewards & Incentives

Rewards and incentives and employee engagement

Every employee loves incentives and rewards and they can be part of the tools that help keep engagement with your company. They can come in the form of cash bonuses, salary increases (and/or promotions) or prizes (tangible gifts). Generally, incentives are considered more like the carrot on the stick – achieve management’s stated goals and you receive the gift. Rewards on the other hand may be given ad hoc after an employee performs well above expectations, without any awareness of a potential recognition.

So which method can potentially help management achieve peak performance from their employees? In this blog we will only consider positive awards. Negative incentives (threats of termination or demotion, for example) will be saved for a future blog. And we aren’t talking about traditional holiday bonuses.

Let’s take a look at some of the various incentive options that could trigger an award, and the recommended award types:

Incentive/Reward Plan Award? Award Type Meet stated goals Not recommended unless the team as a whole is well below plan/quota N/A Exceed stated goals Yes – can be ongoing Raise or bonus One-off performance contest Yes – occasional Bonus or prize Top producer for a period Yes – ongoing Bonus Special activity – e.g., best new idea, charity work, etc. Yes – occasional Prize Recommends a new hire candidate Yes – when candidate is hired Bonus Unexpected performance above & beyond Yes – as one achieves this designation Bonus or prize Random lottery game Yes – occasional Bonus or prize

How did I select specific award types depending on the activity?:

Award Type Reasoning Raise Permanent, used for rewarding ongoing or longer-term success. Bonus Cash is king. When the achievement is one-time and high-value to the company. Everyone likes cash. Prize Fun, different, unexpected — when the employee’s special performance doesn’t necessarily impact company performance, and the award impacts general morale.

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Combining HR Help Desk Data with External Data Sources

hr help desk data

LBi HR Help Desk is known for its flexible reporting templates – more than 15 templates HR can access to build a wide array of powerful and productive custom reports. These templates in aggregate provide end users with access to virtually all of HR Help Desk’s data fields.

Using HR Help Desk’s export feature, data points may be combined from multiple templates to provide an even greater capability to build specialized reports and analytics. But what about merging data from non-HR Help Desk systems for literally limitless analytics capability?

Today, in many industries analytics is the name of the game for companies seeking a competitive edge. IT departments are often inundated with custom analytics requests from every department and business group. You want a custom report? Take a number. Don’t call us – we will call you.

So what can HR do to accelerate delivery of their custom report requests? This blog will demonstrate how to use Microsoft Excel and one single key function plus Pivot Tables to combine data from literally any source into a single table, ready to slice and dice.

That’s right. Specifically VLOOKUP and Pivot Tables together are the keys to HR analytics nirvana. Perfect? No. Limitless? No. But you will be amazed how easy and flexible it is to create a wide variety of reports using your help desk data combined with data from other sources.

Let’s say you want to analyze the demographics of employees that have submitted harassment or discrimination claims. You are primarily concerned about patterns of abuse by age, gender and/or race – neither of which is tracked in HR Help Desk. Additionally you want to analyze whether your recent diversity training was beneficial in reducing complaints.

Here are the basic data points and common location you need to create your reports:

Data Field Data Location    Employee ID (key field) HRIS, Help Desk, Talent mgmt Employee gender HRIS Employee race HRIS Employee age HRIS Date of complaint Help Desk Category of complaint (i.e. discrimination) Help Desk Date of diversity training Talent mgmt

Notice the key field must be included in each export table. This field ties all tables together.

Here are the steps you need to take:

  1. From each system (HRIS, Help Desk, Talent Mgmt) create an extract of the above fields and open in Excel. Place each table in the same workbook, each in separate worksheets.
  2. Highlight each table and create a name for each (i.e. HRIS_table, HD_table, TM_table). Make sure the Employee ID is the 1st column in each table.
  3. Open the HRIS table and add the Complaint Date, Category, and Training date column headers. The table should look something like this:
  4. Now for the magic formula – =VLOOKUP(lookup cell, in this table, return this column value, false)

Enter this formula in cell E3: =vlookup(A3,HD_table,3,false) , where “3” is the HD_table column for the Complaint Date.

Copy this formula down to the last row. Your table should look like this:

Now repeat these steps for the Category and Training Date columns. Now your table should look like this:

  1. Your table is now ready for pivot table analysis. Click anywhere in the table and select Pivot Table or chart from the Insert menu in Excel.

Below are just a few of the pivot table/chart analytics you can create in just a few mouse clicks:

Complaints by age range

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Why Participate in the 21st Annual Sierra-Cedar HR Systems Survey

Sierra-Cedar Survey 2018

It’s that time of the year — the 21st annual Sierra-Cedar HR Systems Survey is upon us.  This is probably the most comprehensive survey for HR users, covering virtually all aspects of HR technology use, from the traditional integrated HR/ERP systems to the latest emerging technologies and innovations.

Some of the most important questions you may have are answered in the survey results, such as:

  • What are the latest trends in HR technology
  • Who are the leading vendors
    • Best of Breed vs. single-source integrated solution
  • What systems are my peers and competitors using
  • What systems are my peers and competitors considering in the next 12 months
  • What systems provide the greatest efficiencies and ROI
  • Where the most/least money is spent
  • By vertical market, how strategic is the HR organization perceived
  • Who is upgrading and who is not, and why
  • Data privacy & confidentiality issues
    • To cloud or not to cloud
  • How and where analytics is being used
  • Much more…

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Determining the True ROI When Investing in New HCM Systems

HCM ROI

Your decision to implement a new HRIS system may or may not factor-in a potential return on investment (ROI). Some systems are necessary regardless of cost (i.e., Payroll). Others (talent management, for instance) may require some level of financial justification.

Then there are some systems that clearly demonstrate a solid ROI. One obvious example is replacing a manual time and attendance collection process with an automated one. Automated T&A systems dramatically reduce time collection and processing hours (thereby reducing FTE’s), and reduce errors down to almost 0%. Not to mention stricter adherence to payroll policies.

Take the following example:

  • 500 employee company with an average $45,000 annual salary = $22,500,000 annual payroll
  • According to the American Payroll Association automating T&A can save a minimum of 1% of payroll = $225,000 annual savings
  • A typical SaaS-based T&A system (clocks, software, services, etc.) for a 500 employee firm will generally cost <$100,000 annually for a top-name system
  • That equates to a virtually instant ROI ($100K annual investment to save $225K annual payroll expense)

One caveat is the inclusion of hard dollar savings (i.e., less paper used) vs. soft dollar savings (i.e., FTE time). Why aren’t FTE savings a hard dollar benefit? Because payroll departments rarely cut headcounts, even if they can. More often than not, underutilized FTE resources are reallocated to other responsibilities.  But the overall benefits are still obvious.

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Benefits of HR Help Desk in Small Businesses

Utilizing an HR Help Desk in large organizations is unquestionably critical to the company’s success. A typical 5,000 employee business generates on average 30,000 HR cases per year, with issues ranging from simple PTO requests up to sexual harassment complaints and other legal-related complaints.

Case volumes in the tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands can be analyzed to find patterns of issues that HR must recognize and address before they hit critical mass and begin to negatively impact the business’s operations.

However, companies with, for instance, 500 employees may only create as few as 3,000 annual cases, or about 12 cases daily. From an administrative point of view, numbers that small can easily be tracked in Excel spreadsheets, without the need for a formal help desk solution.

So why consider an HR specific case management system for your small business? The answer lies in 3 acronyms – HIPAA, PHI, and PII. Small businesses are not immune from lawsuits filed due to breaches of private employee data. HIPAA violations can cause fines in excess of $1M per incident – regardless of company size. In today’s litigious society, workers are often likely to sue, even for small HR related infractions, if their contingency-paid lawyer thinks they have a case.

Whereas a larger organization may have the resources to fend off frivolous lawsuits, one bad case could put a small company out of business.

A well-designed HR Help Desk tracks all employee-to-HR interactions, and maintains that data in a secure and HIPAA-compliant system. From initial complaint through case resolution, necessary confidentiality is guaranteed. Unauthorized eyes will not have access to sensitive case data, documents, phone records, etc. …Read More

We Moved to a Bigger Space Thanks to You

LBi Software New Building

These past five years have been good. Good for LBi, and good for LBi’s clients. Our organization has seen a tremendous amount of success and unprecedented growth, and we’ve been honored to help our clients reach their full potential as we continue to grow.

Whether we’re helping our sports clients create better teams through improved draft picks, signings, and trades, or helping our HR clients with innovative HR case management and call-tracking workflow solutions, we have a long history of success with our clients across the board.

And it’s paid off.

In just five years, we launched LBi Dynasty, our custom sports analytics solution, and now we have clients in Major League Baseball, the National Football League, and the National Basketball Association. We’re incredibly proud to have clients in three of the four major sports leagues and 20 percent of the teams in MLB. And we’re proud of how our HR clients continue to grow through HR HelpDesk, as well.

These past five years have been incredible, and it’s all thanks to our clients and our amazing employees. It’s because of them that we can make this announcement.

We’re very excited to announce that we purchased a 25,235-square-foot building for $5.4 million in March of 2017. This three-story building is located at 999 Walt Whitman Road in Melville, New York, where we’ll occupy the first and second floors of the building. And it’s all thanks to our clients, our employees, and the past five years of unprecedented growth.

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When 1099 Workers Function as Full-time Employees

Many businesses occasionally (or even frequently) require the services of part-time and/or specialty contract workers. Workloads may be seasonable. New projects require talent that is not currently available on staff. The business cannot find qualified permanent employees. Whatever the reason, sometimes the company must hire 1099 workers.

1099 workers generally consume fewer HR resources because they are provided with fewer benefits, and they are paid without tax and other deductions. Generally they are not entitled to holiday pay, or any PTO pay. However, their hourly rate (or fixed base pay) is usually higher than their coworkers performing the same or similar tasks.

Here-in lies the potential problem. What if the 1099 “employee” actually works full-time and truly functions essentially as a full-time employee, particularly if the worker has been with the organization for many months, or even longer?

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Controlling Access to Confidential Cases in Your HR Case Management System

By | Data Security | Leave a comment
confidential data

IT help systems and customer relationship management (CRM) systems have much in common with HR case management solutions. However, what distinguishes the finest HR-specific systems from the rest is the ability to virtually (and often literally) hide confidential tickets from all but specific authorized users.

The level of confidentiality needed in generic CRM systems simply does not demand a true lockdown of sensitive cases required by HR. Without this capability, HR would be at risk of breaking HIPAA and other regulations.

Defining what is confidential, and the degree of confidentiality, should start with the employee’s new case entry. By defining general levels of confidentiality in case categories (e.g., “Disputes”) and subcategories (e.g., “sexual harassment issues”), the employee can select a specific topic and therefore indicate the need for privacy in the matter. Proper workflow setup ensures that not only will the case be routed strictly to the authorized specialist(s), but only that person or persons can even view the case. Unauthorized eyes won’t even know the case exists, whether in reports or by conducting a case search.

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HR Help Desk – Reporting & Analytics

customizable reports

LBi HR Help Desk provides a wide variety of standard and customizable reports that HR can use to improve their operations, as well as delivering analytics that can impact the entire organization. Whether users run standard reports or extract specific data points to use in external analytics systems such as Excel, Crystal, Business Objects or others, LBi HR Help Desk serves up the data HR demands to gain the most benefit out of their Shared Services systems.

Take a look at the key data items HR Help Desk collects in just one standard report template:

  • Case Details:
    • Employee ID
    • Employee Division/Department
    • Open/close dates
    • Days open
    • Overdue status
    • Case priority
    • Tier 0,1,2 response (resolution via self-service, Agent assistance, or escalated)
    • Case Owner
    • Case Originator
    • Case Category/subcategory
    • Issue & resolution text
    • Case created via (email, phone, portal, etc.)
    • Employee’s preferred response mechanism (phone, email, etc.)

From this single basic report template, users can extract data to create very powerful analytics, such as:

  • Case owner overdue performance comparison
  • Employees making excessive calls to HR, and the reasons for the calls, by department
  • Overdue status by case category/subcategory (i.e. comparing 401K issue status to Payroll issues)
  • Evaluating the self-service knowledge base effectiveness
  • Cases requiring the most escalation
  • Detailed Case load by date range (i.e., peak periods for specific case types, for planning/resource scheduling purposes)
  • Much more

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Should Performance Reviews Include Information from Social Media?

social media

In other words, is it acceptable to judge an employee’s performance on activities that occur outside of the office, even if those activities include disparaging the employer? Though laws and policies are different in different states and jurisdictions, the question is still valid.

It may seem obvious that employees (and really everyone) should not compromise themselves in any way online, but the facts show otherwise. People simply do dumb things all the time and post them for all to see. In reality, anything posted online in a publicly accessible page could be considered fair game to anyone else who decides to use that information freely.

What if the employee is posting a job search on LinkedIn? Is it reasonable that the employer’s view of the employee be impacted one way or another? Management may decide to cajole the employee with a positive review (and associated bonus). Or they may prefer to cut the cord and let the employee go prior to him/her actually resigning. In employment-at-will states, employers don’t even have to give a reason for dismissal, as long as the termination is not violating other laws such as discrimination.

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Securing Confidential Data in Your HR Help Desk

HR Help Desk systems are not payroll systems, though discussion of confidential payroll information may likely be collected during the course of managing an employee ticket request. The same holds true with healthcare data, personal credit data, and more. Certainly your HR Help Desk is not a financial system, benefit provider system, or any other system that is designed to collect and manage discreet types of personal information.

In some ways, the HR Help Desk system is more akin to email – with one key differentiator – data security. Your unsecure corporate email system collects and stores virtually any and all types of data, much of it potentially highly confidential in nature. HR Help Desks can and do collect that same information. The danger with email is that emails can easily be forwarded and/or copied to unauthorized eyes.

There is literally no feature in email systems designed to prevent confidential information from being sent to anyone. If you know their address, you can send anything to anyone without restrictions. Corporate policies may be in place to control email flow, but that is no guarantee that violations will not occur, whether inadvertently or intentionally.

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For Grievance and Conflict Resolution, HR Case Management Software Can Be a Valuable Tool

conflict resolution

The following post first appeared in 2014. 

“A good manager doesn’t try to eliminate conflict,” says Robert Townsend, author of the bestseller Up the Organization, and co-author of Reinventing Leadership. “He tries to keep it from wasting the energies of his people.”

As an HR professional in an enterprise organization, you have a choice in how your team — and, therefore, your entire organization — handles all of the conflicts that arise from employee complaints, grievances, and concerns.

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Meet Your New HR Superstar

HR Helpdesk

Would you hire a highly skilled and experienced prime HR candidate for the price of an entry level clerk?  What if your new employee is guaranteed to:

  • Save the organization valuable time and dollars
  • Resolve HR cases faster
  • Free up other HR resources for more strategic work
  • Guarantee consistent adherence to company policies/procedures
  • Increase employee satisfaction
  • Electronically archive and manage all HR case history
  • Assure adherence to government regulations
  • Automatically generate and distribute valuable analytical reports
  • Track patterns of issues & resolve them before they fester

Additionally, what if your new hire will:

  • Work 24/7/365
  • Never take a day off
  • Never complain about anything
  • Require no paid benefits
  • Will do everything you ask (within the job description)
  • Never make a mistake
  • Do all of this – guaranteed

Interested?  Meet LBi HR HelpDesk 6.0, your new superstar. LBi HR HelpDesk is your loyal and dedicated partner, dedicated to helping you build and maintain a successful HR Shared Services operation.

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How to Capitalize on Your HR Help Desk Data

By | HR Technology | Leave a comment
hr helpdesk dashboard

You just invested in a shiny new HR Help Desk solution. You integrated it with your HRIS systems. HR and employees embraced the new tool. The new reports are awesome. Management now has a handle on the day-to-day workload. Problem areas are being identified and corrected. Love the new system.

Is that all there is? Isn’t that enough to justify the investment? Yes, but… let’s take it to the next level with analytics. Reports merely summarize the data; the Who, What, When and Where. Are you ready for the Why and How? Hopefully so. However, as they say – garbage in garbage out. Without the right data (and complete data) faulty analytics could send HR down the wrong mid and long term path.

The finest HR Help Desk systems are very good at collecting the right data points which HR can use to track trends, expose pain points, HR’s performance impact on the entire organization, and more. The Help Desk is designed to capture the right data, but it is up to each HR user to collect all of the data.

First and foremost, every contact between HR and employees must be captured as a case.  Most HR Help Desk systems offer a chat feature, and most of those allow a chat session to close without creating and saving as a new ticket. LBi HR Help Desk is designed such that a case must be opened first before initiating a chat dialog (we call it Employee Interactions). This feature forces the chat dialog to be saved to a permanent case record.

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Harnessing Big Data with HR Technology

By | HR Technology | Leave a comment
big data

The prominence of big data’s role in business has been growing steadily over the last few years. Today, it has reached every area of business, creating even a new name for data-driven companies — the “quantified organization.”

And HR has been no exception. In fact, the concept of people data has created a huge buzz, expanding ideas of what HR thought was possible with solving issues such as employee engagement, recruitment, retention, and more. But with all the scraping and storing of scores and scores of data, companies have run into a new conundrum — putting that data into action.

However, 2016 has seen new hope for the application of big data in HR. Deloitte University Press recently reported that the percentage of companies that feel ready or somewhat ready to use this data in people analytics jumped from 24 percent to 32 percent this year — one-third greater than last year.

Why all the hype? Sierra-Cedar reported in its “2014–2015 HR Systems Survey Results” that organizations with an environment of data-driven decisions have a 79 percent higher return on equity than non-quantified organizations. So it’s no wonder that businesses are beginning to look for the tools and methods that will best put their invaluable stores of data to work.

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Is Time and Attendance Collection in White Collar Businesses Necessary?

By | HR Effectiveness | Leave a comment


Automated Time and Attendance (T&A) systems have been on the market since the late 70’s – starting with standalone “punch clocks” that calculated employee worked hours and enforced basic attendance policies (late-in, early-out, etc.). The next generation of clocks moved to a computer based environment, connecting to clocks via modem or hardwire. Then came networked (multi-user) systems, client-server systems, and finally web based systems.

In the beginning, these applications were used almost exclusively in blue collar and other hourly businesses. Employees in these organizations were paid for hours worked, not on a salary basis. So the prospect of strict (and virtually instant) enforcement of company pay policies drove the adoption of automated T&A systems. Common markets for T&A systems were (and still are) manufacturing, retail, distribution, government, healthcare, construction, building maintenance and other service industries.

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When RFP Questions Cross the Line of Reasonability

By | HR Technology | Leave a comment
RFP

In my business, responding to RFIs, RFQs and RFPs are a part of my daily work life. If you want to win the business, you must accept these requests as a mandatory function during the sales cycle.

20 years ago, questionnaires focused almost entirely on the business application up for bid; features, functions, bells, whistles, and the like. Technology questions primarily centered around the technology platform – Windows, Solaris, SQL Server, Oracle, web vs. client-server, etc.

In today’s cyber security threat world, IT has essentially commandeered the process, and now RFPs are often heavily weighted on security questions. Frankly, many recent RFPs that have crossed my desk barely touch on the relevant and in-demand application features, in favor of addressing IT Security issues. In a few cases, it has been hard to find the actual application questions buried in one of many Excel tabs (worksheets).

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The 3 R’s of Managing Workplace Stress

Stress or agitation can dampen an employee’s productivity and emotional well-being in the workplace. Learning the 3 R’s — recognition, reduction and rejuvenation — is essential to lowering stress levels.

Recognize

Workplace stress comes in many shapes and forms, and in order to beat it, you have to know what it is and how it affects the mind and body. According the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, three-fourths of employees think that people face more workplace stress than one generation ago.

Today’s workers encounter situations that trigger physical, psychological and behavioral symptoms. Some physical symptoms to watch for include headaches, fatigue, sleeping problems and gastrointestinal upsets. Next, it is important to recognize psychological symptoms, such as depression, anxiety and discouragement, and to notice changes in behavior that range from aggression to disinterest.

Having strong organizational networks to alleviate stress levels in the workplace is a major step in the right direction. Employers who show support for their people make it easier to recognize the pitfalls of stress. …Read More

Should You Ignore Questionable Social Media Posts from Job Applicants and Employees?

Over the past decade, employer reviews of social media accounts rose by around 500 percent, according to a CareerBuilder survey. Employers report using social media to investigate potential new hires and to communicate with — and check up on — existing employees. While the practice of involving social media in the employer/employee relationship is still being debated, if you do decide to review social media, you might not want to take every post into account.

Social Media Isn’t a Complete Picture

Brands today know that social media isn’t a complete picture of any person or company. A single joke made in poor taste or a photo of a night partying doesn’t actually tell you much about a person’s skills, work ethic or overall personality. Instead of reacting to single pieces of content, look for a pattern or trend that would be concerning for your workplace. If you refuse to hire anyone who has at least one questionable social media post, you’ll have a hard time finding any candidates.

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Sierra-Cedar 2016-17 HR Systems Survey

HR Systems Survey

Is your HR organization performing at peak efficiency levels? Do you understand how your peers are managing their firms; companies with the same issues and challenges you face? They can only expose new and potentially productive ideas.

How can you broaden your knowledge of industry trends and cutting edge business tools? The answer is in the HR industry’s most comprehensive annual survey, the Sierra–Cedar 2016–2017 HR Systems Survey, 19th Annual Edition.

In partnership with Sierra-Cedar, LBi Software invites you to participate. The survey is now available at www.Sierra-Cedar.com/hrssv45 until the deadline on July 1, 2016. All responses are confidential and only used in aggregate results.

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LBi HR HelpDesk Tips and Tricks – Extracting Data From Reports

HR HelpDesk Data Tools

All good Help Desk report writing tools offer multiple data sorting and filtering options, providing the user with the specific view they require for a specific report. But what if the resulting report presents some extraneous data, or possibly is missing desired data points that may not be included in that particular report template?

Novice and non-technical users generally are not provided access directly to the underlying database, and even if they were they wouldn’t know how to use it for customized reporting. Crystal and other popular report writers, often used as the reporting engine in business applications, try to provide a reasonably simple tool for creating or modifying reports, though these tools are far too complex for the average user.

And don’t bother contacting IT for assistance. Take a number and they will get back to you.

So, how would you like to run a report thinking “I don’t need these 2 fields, but I would like to add a different field; and create a different presentation of the report. And accomplish that in a few mouse clicks.” That would be nice, right? …Read More

The Importance of Multi-Language Capability in HR Software

By | HR Technology | Leave a comment
Multi-language

If your organization is multi-national, then you already understand the requirement for multi-language versions of business software. Whether the software application is employee-facing (i.e., HR Help Desk or Time & Attendance) or not, your multi-national workforce may necessitate the adoption of systems that provide multiple language versions.

However, even very small organizations can have the same or similar language issues. In the US today, there is tremendous growth in the Hispanic population, as well as steady immigration from Asian and Middle Eastern countries. The chances of SMBs having some predominately non-English speaking employees are very high. Proactive companies are providing English as a second language classes for their foreign-born employees, helping them assimilate into American culture.

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Determining the ROI on HR Business Systems – or Not

By | HR Technology | Leave a comment
HR Systems ROI

Return on Investment (aka ROI) implies at some future point you get your money back after the investment is made. There is an initial financial investment, and an eventual “return” of those dollars (and then some, hopefully) down the road.

Depending on the system being implemented, calculating your potential ROI can be simple math or a much more complex process. Are there truly hard-dollar quantifiable savings — elimination of paper records and storage, staffing cuts, etc? Or are the savings more in the soft-dollar category, such as time saved or greater employee satisfaction? Probably, with HR systems, it will be a combination of both.

 

Calculating the Total Cost of Ownership

First you have the task of attempting to accurately quantify the numbers. How much does all that paper actually cost? And did the staff cuts force new overtime pay for the remaining employees, cutting FTEs with little to no drop in overall payroll expense? Did employee satisfaction improvements result in measurable productivity gains and/or lower turnover? Can you even determine that?

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Don’t Use Your IT Help Desk for HR

Don't Use Your IT Help Desk for HR

When seeking a new case management system for HR, many HR organizations opt for the easy decision of using the company’s existing IT Help Desk solution. Why not? It has similarities to an HR specific system. It has been used successfully by IT for years. It’s feature rich, lower cost, and possibly even no cost to expand the system into the HR department.

Then comes the painful reality of critical differences between IT focused systems and HR-centric systems. And as many people know, once a system is in place it will be very difficult to replace later. You will probably have to live with your selection for years to come.

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Sierra-Cedar 2015-16 HR Systems Survey

Sierra-Cedar 2015-2016

How efficient is your HR organization? Is there room for improvement (there always is, right)? Just as importantly, how well run is your group compared to others in your industry, or in the market in general?

Whether or not you believe your HR organization is performing at peak efficiency levels, understanding how your peers are managing their firms, companies with the same issues and challenges you face, can only expose new and potentially productive ideas.

Since you are not likely to call on your competition to compare notes, how can you broaden your knowledge of industry trends and cutting edge business tools? The answer is in the HR industry’s most comprehensive annual survey, the Sierra–Cedar 2015–2016 HR Systems Survey, 18th Annual Edition.

In partnership with Sierra-Cedar, LBi invites you to participate. The survey is now available at www.Sierra-Cedar.com/hrssv45 until the deadline on June 30, 2015. All responses are confidential and only used in aggregate results.

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LBi HR HelpDesk: Delivering the Choices Our Customers Need

No business application can be all things to all people, but with the right team behind it, it can certainly come close. Rather than taking the “build it and they will come” strategy, successful software developers continually research their market and listen closely to what their customers and prospects are asking for.

You have spoken and LBi has listened. Whether your business is a 10 employee startup or a multinational conglomerate, LBi has an HR Case Management solution for you. From our LBi HR HelpDesk Free edition to the fully featured world-class LBi HR HelpDesk Enterprise, LBi has your business covered.

Designed explicitly for HR, and fully capable in virtually any industry, LBi’s 4 classes of HR HelpDesk cover every common client feature request from free and low cost online SaaS versions to in-the-box multi language support. Some clients desire the convenience and low cost of a cloud-based solution. We delivered. Larger and more security minded organizations still insist on dedicated server hosting or on-premises deployments. We delivered. Multi-language needs?  How about 90 different language options via the new embedded Google Translate on-the-fly language translation service? We delivered.

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Encouraging Employees AND Employers to Use HR Self-Service Tools

self-service

Recently, two new clients opted to implement LBi HR Help Desk without, at least initially, the Employee Self-Service Portal feature. Though the great majority of clients do deploy the Self-Service Portal, there are still a number of clients that choose to continue with phone and email case requests.

LBi HR Help Desk does provide features that help automate call-ins and email initiated tickets. For instance, HR Help Desk supports Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and Computer Telephony Integration (CTI). With IVR/CTI technology, calls into HR can automatically be routed to the appropriate agent, and instantly open the employee HR Help Desk Masterfile screen ready to verify and engage the caller. More advanced telephony integration can be implemented where employees can generate cases via the touchtone system, similar to phone-based banking, though this option is less common.

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Putting "HR Help" Back in the HR Help Desk

HR Hep

The expectations of HR continue to grow — to be more of a strategic player in the organization as well as to provide increasingly user-friendly services to employees. HR could use a little HR help from some friends.

Among those friends is an automated HR case management system, built specifically for HR departments to improve HR service delivery and provide HR self-service. This kind of solution can be just the kind of HR help that HR needs today.

First, however, you want to make sure your HR case management solution is designed specifically for HR departments. A system built for IT’s needs and repurposed for HR will fall short of the mark in several ways. You can read more about why that is in our blog post “HR Delivery Excellence Demands HR-dedicated Case Management: True Temper Tools Would Agree” and dig even deeper into the topic in our white paper “Case Management: The Backbone of Excellence in HR Service Delivery.”

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How to Green Up Your Workspace

Have you ever noticed that you feel different when surrounded by nature or when there are plants nearby? New research conducted by the University of Exeter shows that employees are happier and up to 15 percent more productive in work environments with plants than in environments without any greenery.

Green Is Good for Productivity

Academics from the University of Exeter, the University of Queensland, Australia, and the University of Groningen in the Netherlands carried out a long-term experiment comparing employees in two large commercial offices in the UK and the Netherlands. They monitored one office with plants and one without plants and measured employees’ perceptions of air quality, workplace satisfaction, concentration and productivity levels. The results show significant increases in all three areas of employee perception in the work environment with plants and a 15 percent increase in productivity. Researchers believe that the plants help employees to be more physically, cognitively and emotionally involved in their work.

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The Importance of ROI When Evaluating Ancillary Business Systems


There is a general category of software based business systems that is considered mission critical to most organizations. Very few companies can operate without a general ledger package, a payroll system (or service), HRIS system, as well as industry specific systems for time and billing, manufacturing, distribution, etc. Final selection of these applications (often through an RFP process) is generally based on a combination of factors such as required functionality, ease of use, integration with other internal systems, and cost. Ultimately, regardless of whether these systems can actually save time and/or money, the business needs them and choices are made.

Where ROI (Return on Investment) analysis starts to become a greater factor in product selection is when internal business units (such as HR) are seeking out ancillary systems, sometimes referred to as “bolt-on” solutions. Examples are Data Warehouses, HR Recruiting systems, Performance Review systems, Case/ticket Management, etc. Products in this category may not be viewed as mission critical to the entire organization, but rather are considered more business critical — important primarily to the specific business group seeking the solution. In other words, the company would not shut down without them, although business operations could likely be greatly improved with them.

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Managing Human Resources Service Level Agreements (SLA)

By | Compliance | Leave a comment

With the advent of productive office automation systems in HR, management now has the tools to create, track, and effectively adhere to standards of service delivered to their employees.  Modern HR systems for time and attendance automation, case management, talent management, and more all provide the ability to set unambiguous SLAs and analyze actual HR performance results.

So what is the best process for defining specific SLA standards for specific tasks and functions?  Some tasks, such as handling FMLA requests or payroll errors, are likely already defined by the government or your current company policies.  But since newer, more comprehensive computer systems provide the ability to be much more granular in task management automation, service levels for many other discrete tasks may now have to be developed and agreed to.

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Clearing up the Cloudiness

By | Data Security | Leave a comment

The benefits of the cloud for HR technology are unassailable. It makes the adoption of robust, complex programs and systems affordable and scalable. Unlike legacy systems that run on your organization’s own servers, cloud-based solutions don’t require you to buy any hardware; all system maintenance, updates, and support are part of the package, and they’re usually paid for on a subscription or fee-for-use basis. Cloud-based solutions are also often designed with layers of features and complexity built in — behind the curtain, so to speak — so you can change your configuration and add more users with the flip of a switch.

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3 Design Tips to Increase Office Productivity

There are some office configurations that are simply more conducive to productivity than others. A 2013 survey of 42,000 office workers by the University of Sydney found that open-plan spaces — those that have employees seated in large spaces without walls separating them — lower office productivity and morale. Researchers concluded the lack of privacy, personal space and perpetual noise were the biggest factors in lowering productivity.

These results contradicted the industry-accepted idea of open-plan spaces benefiting work environments. They also showed that the layout of your office can make all the difference between a distracted staff and one that is content and comfortable, and thus productive. Here are three additional ideas to help create an environment that boosts morale and subsequently, productivity. …Read More

HR Tech 2014 Recap: HR HelpDesk Rated “E” for Everyone

By | HR Technology | Leave a comment

Guests at our HR Tech booth had fun playing Plinko for a guaranteed prize (vibration speakers, ear buds, USBs, water bottles…) and a chance at four Chromebooks and four Kindles.

The hottest prize at the booth was the vibration speaker — a cool gadget that magnifies the sound of your smartphone via vibration (no bluetooth); we had a lot of fun giving those demonstrations.

Our booth theme was HR HelpDesk Rated “E” for Everyone – HR HelpDesk, our innovative Case Management software, comes in four versions for organizations of varying sizes.

The E also stands for:

  • Employee Engagement
  • Efficient Case Management
  • Easy Sign up – no credit card required for free trials
  • Encompassing Pricing
  • And any other “E” word our marketing people could come up with.

We also generated some buzz on twitter at #EforEveryone.

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Why HR Needs Technology Rated “E” for Everyone — #HRTechConf

With more than 25 years of experience creating and delivering intuitive technology solutions that simplify HR administration, we’ve learned that regardless of the number of employees in an organization, HR wants more than just technology that works. They want innovative solutions with robust capabilities that their employees can access anywhere, backed by quality support. LBi offers all this and more, with a tiered, pay-as-you-go pricing model for organizations of all sizes.

To learn more about how cloud-based case management can change HR administration in your organization, keep reading. Our technology is rated “E” for everyone — find out why.

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Operating a Centralized HR Help Desk Across Multiple Geographies & Time Zones

By | HR Efficiency | Leave a comment

Operating your centralized HR help desk, or any centralized HR system for that matter, in multiple geographical regions can be challenging at best, and at worst painfully difficult to manage. There are language constraints, SLA differences, general work-day availability issues, HR policy variances from region to region, and other issues unique to global organizations.

The easy answer might be to take a decentralized approach with multiple systems managed locally, though that solution presents an entirely different set of problems and complexities, such as multiple system integrations, added IT resources, complex reporting, higher costs, system management, etc. Obviously there is no easy answer.

There are very few truly global HR systems available, and those that exist can be cost prohibitive and difficult to maintain. Just because an organization is global in structure does not mean it is particularly large in size or replete with available IT resources, or enjoys the budget necessary to acquire such systems.

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Win Big with HR Technology Rated “E” for Everyone at #HRTechConf

By | HR Technology | Leave a comment

If you’re a business leader in HR or IT, the annual HR Technology® Conference & Exposition is one event you don’t want to miss. HR Technology® is the world’s largest expo of HR technology products and services — attracting industry experts, thought leaders, innovative software vendors, and senior HR executives and practitioners. There isn’t a better venue to evaluate your technology needs — and the organizational processes that enable your buying decisions.

LBi Software is proud to be a vendor at HR Technology® for the fifth consecutive year, and we will be showcasing our automated HR case management suite, HR HelpDesk. If you haven’t yet registered for the event, you can save $500 as a guest of LBi Software if you register by Sept. 22 with promo code LBI.

At the event, we’ll be revealing our robust, yet flexible tiered solutions for companies large and small — whether you have 50 employees or 50,000. The new versions of HR HelpDesk are rated “E” for Everyone, focusing on empowerment, effectiveness, efficiency, ease, and encompassing pricing for organizations of all sizes.

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“E” for Everyone: HR Technology From SMB to Enterprise — #HRTechConf

For more than 25 years, we have focused on developing and providing solutions that make the complex world of HR administration simpler and easier. In that time, we have learned a lot, including these two important things:

  • Today’s companies want robust and flexible HR software with great service and support.
  • The best technology is simply the best technology — and shouldn’t be limiting for companies large or small.

In other words, powerful programs shouldn’t be reserved for enterprise-level businesses, and agility shouldn’t be limited to small and midsize businesses.

Our automated HR case management software prevents employee issues from falling through the cracks or becoming bigger problems down the road. It complements talent management software to identify potentially costly patterns of personnel issues, reduce risk, and maximize HR productivity by reducing help calls by up to 75 percent.

Simply put, we have put the power in the hands of each employee — whether you have 50 or 50,000 people in your organization.

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The ROI of HR Case Management

Implementing automated HR Case Management/HR Help Desk can save you money. This post will show you how to calculate that savings.

If you have a traditional manual HR call center with no automation you already have efficiencies in handling the incoming queries compared with a traditional HR staffing system. But you still face the challenges of providing accurate and consistent information, as well as the problem of managing the call center and staffing it with HR professionals. The bottom line is that many of the challenges inherent in a manual process tend to remain, while the biggest potential for reducing costs through an automated system are not leveraged.

Upgrading your call center with an automated HR help desk will help you address these problems and lower operating costs.

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Secure HR Case Management

By | Compliance | Leave a comment
Secure HR Case Management

The last thing you need is for employees to distrust HR. It can happen when you don’t have a system in place to route confidential cases, such as harassment or manager dispute cases, to strictly authorized personnel. It can also happen when you use a manual system that fails to ensure that you’re compliant with HIPAA, PHI, PII, and safe harbor regulations. There can be fines of up to $250,000 for violations (and imprisonment of up to 10 years for knowingly abusing or misusing an individual’s health information). …Read More

The Rise of HR Knowledge Bases

We live in the self-service era — self-serve check-out lines, pay at the pump, YouTube do it yourself videos… I just fixed my mountain bike by watching a YouTube video on how to adjust the disc brakes. It is just faster to do it ourselves. I didn’t have to drop my bike off at the shop and waste any time. Also, there is a bit of a self-esteem lift involved when you fix it yourself. Recently I fixed my garage door opener by ordering a $10 part and watching a YouTube video. (Although when I started it I did not realize the video was “1 of 5” and it would take me 8 hours to do it. But time management will be saved for another blog post.) The key was even though I wasted a tremendous amount of time, I felt good that I had fixed the door by myself.

An HR Knowledge Base can contain all types of employee information — benefits guide, code of conduct, policy information, PC FAQs… It is more than just an online Employee Handbook. The key to a knowledge base is the information that allows the employee to easily find answers to their questions. So properly indexing the knowledge base is essential. The knowledge base should have search engines that allow an individual to type in a question. It is much more than an FAQ.

A good knowledge base and supporting tools can empower your employees to find the answers to their questions themselves. This both saves HR time and engages your workforce.

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ESS…Build It and They Will Come…Not Necessarily

The best thing about computer technology is instant access to information any time, anywhere. Smart phones and tablet computers are a godsend in today’s fast moving world. Don’t agree? Just ask Siri or Skyvi (Google’s version of Siri). Now you can find a movie, a restaurant, a gas station, plumber, or anything else you need with just a few taps of the screen.

Pew Research estimates 58% of American adults have a smart phone, and 42% have a tablet computer. Clearly smart device owners understand the power at their fingertips and are realizing significant productivity gains, at least in the category of personal time management. So it stands to reason that mobile information access would provide similar benefits in the workplace, right? For instance, an HR self-service app that delivers virtually instant answers to all of a worker’s employment-related questions, right on their PC, phone or tablet? Well, this is true…if the content is comprehensive and the search tool is simple to use.

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The Power of Combining HR Case Management with Self-service Technology

SMB Employee Self Service

The combination of case management and self-service technology gives employees the power to answer their own questions and take care of many of their own HR and benefits tasks at a time of their choosing and from their own desks — or even from home. Employees are increasingly expecting their online interactions at work to be as easy and personalized as their online consumer experiences. Online workplace applications — including HR programs — are now considered table stakes for businesses of all sizes to reach and support their employees.

This means that by implementing these solutions, the company is also giving time and resources back to HR. Fewer HR hours need to be allocated to answering employee questions and managing routine paperwork. And that means more time and resources to focus on strategic business tasks and planning.

Studies show that the right self-service system, like that in LBi HR HelpDesk Pro and ProPlus, can accurately address and resolve 80 percent of all employee inquiries. This is particularly significant for SMB organizations that are still operating with a traditional HR department and a manual case management system or resolution process.

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Why SMBs Are Using HR HelpDesk

SMBs and HR HelpDesk

HR departments in small to medium sized organizations share the same employee issues that occur in large enterprises; the only difference being the volume of problems HR is confronted with.  Labor disputes, morale problems, productivity issues, compensation inequality and more, are the bane of HR departments both large and small.

As one well known technology company proudly articulates, “There’s an app for that”.  And there is.  But until now case management software solutions explicitly developed to address the privacy and confidentiality requirements of HR have been out of reach for the SMB market due to the generally higher cost factor. Lower cost IT help desk and sales/support focused CRM systems, even Excel spreadsheets and simple email public folders, have long been considered “good enough” for smaller HR departments, and for some companies that is certainly true.

However, what happens when that emailed ticket declaring an employee’s sexual harassment accusation is inadvertently (or intentionally) BCC’d or forwarded to unauthorized eyes? This breach of confidentiality can be extremely costly for any sized organization.

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Is the 360 Degree Employee Review Method a Good Idea?

Are 360 degree employee reviews particularly more or less fair to the employee? Let’s start with defining the 360 degree review process. 360 degree employee performance reviews encompass comments from the employee’s managers and peers, customer feedback, HR statistics such as patterns of absences and late/tardy occurrences, as well as actual performance measures.

Additionally, some companies monitor their employee’s social media sites, looking for more clues into their overall impact on the organization. Some reasonable weight is assigned to each of these processes in order to assess the total picture of the employee’s value and contribution to the business.

Seems fair and complete, right? Well they certainly can be, as long as the proper weight is applied to each component of the review, and subjectivity is minimized. For instance, an employee may have achieved 100% of his MBO’s, but for various reasons is not viewed favorably by his/her peers. Does that really matter in the long run? Another employee might have successfully completed all of his projects on time and within budget, but management was quietly expecting more cost cutting measures, though not openly mandated. Is that fair?

Traditional employee reviews focus primarily on performance compared directly to assigned objectives, with additional consideration given to other mitigating factors such as general employee attitude, leadership qualities, attendance, etc. But 360 degree employee reviews take a truly holistic approach and effectively become the “balanced scorecard” of employee reviews.

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Changing the Game for SMB HR: Case Management Your Way

SMB HR Case Management

We’re not here to say HR technology has ignored the small and midsize business market. If we did, we’d be cut to ribbons in a heartbeat. A Google search I just did for “HR technology for SMB” returned 29.7 million results. HR technology vendors have targeted the SMB user with cloud-based software to handle everything from recruiting and onboarding to performance management, time and attendance, career development and compensation.

Until now, however, no one has offered the SMB market a fully featured HR case management solution the way SMB companies really want to buy software — which means going beyond offering Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). That’s become table stakes.

Doing more for SMB buyers starts with offering free trials, just as SMB users expect from all kinds of other SaaS products. So LBi is offering LBi HR HelpDesk to the SMB market with free trials — including a free-forever trial for companies with fewer than 100 employees on the system.

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Why Do HR Technology Vendors Continue to Overlook the SMB Market?

Life is full of sad realities. One is that the SMB market has been vastly underserved by the HR technology industry. There’s one very simple reason: Despite the glut of cloud-based HR software, HR technology vendors have until now largely failed to sell products the way small and midsize businesses want to buy them. (For the record, we’re talking about companies with 2,000 or fewer employees.)

For starters, the HR technology industry has traditionally failed to let the SMB user “try it before you buy it.” They certainly haven’t wooed the SMB buyer with free trials like they offer to the enterprise customer. We concede that until now, we at LBi Software have been as guilty of this as our competitors, especially when it comes to our flagship solution, the HR case manager and call-tracking workflow system, LBi HR HelpDesk.

That’s a shame. HR leaders in the SMB market until now have never been given the opportunity to determine, without pressure or hassle, whether an HR technology solution could really benefit them (assuming, of course, other motivating factors also fall into place — factors like pricing and having an easy purchasing process).

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Finally, an HR Case Management Model Designed Uniquely for the SMB Market

Call us crazy, but we think HR buyers in the SMB (small and midsize business) market have been overlooked for too long. We believe HR technology vendors — including LBi — have failed to sell products the way SMB users want to buy them.

We think we’ve set things right.

LBi Software is proud to offer the SMB buyer HR HelpDesk, a fully featured yet affordable HR case management and call-tracking workflow solution. Of course, the powerful and robust enterprise edition of LBi HR HelpDesk is a highly configurable system that offers complete integration with HR, ERP, and email systems; advanced document management; options for on-premise hosting and licensing, or hosting on a dedicated server (for maximum security); single-sign on; corporate branding, and more.

But now we’re giving HR leaders in organizations with up to 2,000 employees the opportunity to launch a cloud-based version of LBi HR HelpDesk as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and start using it right away. And we’re doing that in a way that’s hassle-free — consumer-friendly access with no obligation to buy and a simple, one-step purchasing process.

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LBi Software Expanded Staff and Headquarters!

LBi Software is pleased to announce that it has completed an expansion of its headquarters to over 10,000 square feet at 7600 Jericho Turnpike in Woodbury, NY. LBI Software also recently reached the 50 employee mark. In the last 18 months LBi has grown by over 30%!  This expansion is to support the upcoming new offering of our flagship solution LBi HR HelpDesk.

The office expansion included new offices, new workstations to support 3 monitors per developer, meeting rooms, video games and a Ping Pong table.

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HR Help Desk Analytics: A Webinar Showing Real Use of Big Data and KPIs

HelpDesk Analytics Webinar

Discover how Human Resources Help Desk analytics can transform your organization. On June 3rd LBi Software will host a webinar demonstrating the power of HR Help Desk Analytics and Big Data.

The benefits of implementing an HR Help Desk and Employee Self Service Knowledge Base solution are many, including fewer calls into HR, consistent adherence to corporate business policies, greater employee satisfaction, and more.

However, a robust, well-designed and mature solution can provide even greater value through powerful analytics.

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Do You Really Need to Issue an RFP?

Before starting down the path of developing an RFP, it’s crucial to understand the ultimate goal of the journey. Not all RFPs are released with the objective of finding the best and most robust HR case management solution for a company’s needs. Other business goals for an RFP include:

  • Finding the lowest-cost solution to meet the most nominal requirements
  • Surveying the marketplace and gathering information for a future purchase
  • Collecting ideas and information for building a system in-house

If the above is your reason for considering the RFP process, then please don’t.

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Healthier Employees Make for a Wealthier Bottom Line

A 2001 Gallup poll found that Americans who are obese or have chronic health problems cost their employers an estimated $153 billion per year in lost productivity. As the prevalence of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and other chronic health conditions continued to rise from 1999 to 2010 (and beyond), employers are looking for ways to keep their employees physically fit. The best employee wellness initiatives are those that motivate without harming morale.

Promoting Healthy Body Weight

Obese and overweight individuals are more likely to take sick days, require more doctor visits and experience difficulty performing efficiently at work, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An effective strategy to encourage weight management is to have a friendly interoffice competition. For example, departments might compete against one another to see which can log the most exercise minutes, steps walked per day or pounds lost (following a group weigh-in, so as not to put pressure on an individual). Tying performance to monthly rewards such as an office party, financial benefit, or flex time is a great way to increase motivation.

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Is Work-Life Balance a Myth?

Work-Life Balance

Is work-life balance a myth? No, it just has different meaning and implications for different cultures. In the United States there is a trend towards encouraging employees to find a healthy medium between work hours and personal time. There is a widely held belief here that a happy employee is a productive employee. In some industries, employees are required to take all of their allotted paid time off. Others sometimes discourage long vacations greater than one week at a time. But today we are recognized as the most productive nation on Earth, though that belief is rapidly changing.

What about other countries and cultures? Certainly workers in China, South Korea, Japan and India, as well as other countries, are considered very productive. However, in those cultures generally work comes first, and sometimes to the exclusion of family and personal life. Disconcerting stories such as those coming from the Chinese factory Foxconn, are all too common. At Foxconn, employees often work seven days a week, eat in common cafeterias, and live in crowded dorms, though they rarely complain. On the contrary, many employees there are proud to work hard and strive for a solid middle class existence, which otherwise might be unattainable.

In these cultures, children are taught from an early age that hard work and personal achievement is the root of success and happiness. Anything less is considered shaming to the family. In school, “A” is the new “B”. Nothing less than “A+” is acceptable. Just look at the winners in the annual Intel Science and Siemens Competitions. They are consistently represented by a disproportionately large number of foreign born or first generation American students, often from Asian and Indian countries. It is truly hard to argue with success.

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Ensure Data Security and Strengthen Policies with HR Case Management

By | Compliance | Leave a comment

We live and conduct business in an increasingly litigious society. We all know that. At the same time, businesses are increasingly in the crosshairs of various state and federal agencies responsible for enforcing everything from fair hiring practices to safety in the workplace.

An HR help desk is the antithesis of the old way of responding to government audits and legal action. Then, managers and administrators had to almost manually piece together disconnected sources and chains of communication related to a grievance – emails, phone messages, printed forms and other sources.

An automated HR help desk, by comparison, offers an audit trail for every case, including all of its related documents and communications. A quality system also has the level of security to ensure privacy and confidentiality in the HR environment.

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Last Year’s Business Blunders and How to Learn From Them This Year

Whether 2013 was your most successful year yet or one you would like to forget, it should be seen as a learning opportunity for 2014. As a small business owner and captain of your own ship, it’s natural to make mistakes, but with the right tools, you can easily avoid common pitfalls and blunders like sloppy record keeping and spending too much time on social media.

1. Filing Messy Last Minute Taxes

If your 2013 taxes are proving to be complicated and cumbersome because you left everything to the last minute, take a few steps to make tax time easier in 2014. Third party Payroll Services organize all of your payroll records throughout the year. Instead of slogging through a year’s worth of records and manually transferring numbers, just click a few times, and your payroll software will download the relevant numbers and forms to your tax software.

Combine a program like this with an organizational app like Shoeboxed, which allows you to easily file receipts and track expenses. This app ensures that you never miss a write-off, and it has the power to effectively lower your tax burden. With the right tools in place, filing taxes in April 2015 should be a breeze.

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Key Performance Indicators Enhance HR Help Desk Value

The benefits of implementing an HR Help Desk and Employee Self Service Knowledge Base solution are many, including fewer calls into HR, consistent adherence to corporate policies, greater employee satisfaction, and many more. However, a robust, well-designed and mature solution can provide even greater value through powerful analytics that use key performance indicators. Key performance indicators, or KPI’s, define factors HR needs to benchmark and monitor.

Traditional HR systems do not track patterns of employee morale issues, the impact of personnel disputes on overall performance, management style inconsistencies, and other, often subliminal, employee related problems that can negatively affect corporate productivity.

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Keeping Your Contingent Workforce Engaged

The percentage of employees that are contingent is quickly growing. Currently 18% of the total work force is contingent.  Some are predicting this to rise to 50% of the Fortune 500 workforce! HR software and HR software vendors must be prepared to support this growing contingent workforce. Furthermore, this contingent workforce needs to be just as engaged as traditional full-time employees. We need to get the most from our employees whether they are permanent or contingent.

Contingent workers are not permanent employees and they know it. Depending on their contract or agreement with the firm, continued employment is always in question, as is the ability to move to a higher, more permanent position.

A contingent workforce may provide many benefits to the organization, such as helping to fill temporarily needed positions during uncertain times of unpredictable growth. But once those workers are in place they need to be properly managed. It is critical to understand that the disposition of contract workers is much different than the attitudes of regular full-time employees. Are they loyal to the company? Can they be trusted with confidential information? Are they at least as productive as regular workers?

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HR Case Management Can Get Actionable Analytics from Big Data

Today’s business systems create mountains of data. HR systems are no exception. Nor is the HR organization immune from leadership’s growing demand to mine that data and transform it into analytics that can help drive business decisions.

In his May 2011 review of a weeklong conference, Impact 2011: Building the Borderless Workplace, Josh Bersin wrote, “I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the focus on HR measurement, metrics and analytics throughout the conference.”

In fact, developing and applying measurement strategies that “ensure efficiency, effectiveness and business alignment” is among the 10 best practices of “high-impact HR organizations,” according to research by Bersin & Associates (now Bersin by Deloitte). These HR organizations provide data that illustrates “clear connections between the efforts of both the HR function and individual people.”

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HR Case Management Can Boost Employee Engagement

The features of an automated HR Case Management System – from resolving cases faster and easier, to empowering self-service – can help create and heighten employee engagement.

For example, an HR case management system designed to serve HR keeps a record, instantly available, of every employee transaction. With just a couple of clicks, an HR team member has access to the entire history of a case. The employee doesn’t need to restart the process if he or she needs to follow up on a case.  It’s obviously more efficient for HR, and it’s also an effective tool for heightening employee engagement. It shows employees that the company cares enough to handle their concerns quickly and knowledgeably – it brings consumer-like service to the world of HR.

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4 Must-Have Apps for New International Travelers

By | Technology Tools | Leave a comment

You have finally scrimped and saved enough money to afford an adventurous international vacation. Maybe your destination is a big exotic city like Bangkok or Sydney, or a tightly-scheduled itinerary where you’ll visit a dozen countries in a dozen days.

Perhaps you’re headed to the jungle or desert in the middle of nowhere, which will still be worth it because it’s a place that’s far from home. Whatever the case, you have earned this trip so the only thing you need to do now is to start planning.

Getting there, of course, is half the fun. You can get a head start on your travel plans with a mobile device. If you don’t have one yet for this trip, you can find tablet deals with providers like T-Mobile. Tablets can give you easy access to useful travel-related apps before and after you arrive. Think of it as traveling with a computer and your own native guide in one resource.

TripIt

This app can help organize details about where you’re going and how you’re getting there, everything from confirmation numbers to what gate you’re flying out of. It also alerts you to possible changes, such as a delayed flight or a changed gate, and syncs the same data to different device screens so any traveling companions can have access to the same data. It’s available for free for iOS, Android, Windows and Blackberry, or $49 a year for TripIt Pro that provides more planning assistance, including details of where your seat is on your next flight.

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For an HR Case Management Shopping List, Consider Five Features of a Full-platform HRIS

It’s true that an HR case management solution is only one piece of a comprehensive HRIS solution. HR case management lives under the big umbrella of software solutions that help streamline the whole spectrum of HR management system functions, from benefits administration, to time and attendance, to performance reviews and succession planning.

Yet all of the pieces within an HRIS share two overarching goals: to help HR professionals manage their workforce more efficiently and to empower employees. Just as with a full-platform HR management system (HRMS), you also want an HR case management solution that will increase HR productivity by automating administrative processes and supporting HR on a strategic level.

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Is Your HR Help Desk System Smart Enough? See if it Passes the Test.

Help Desk systems have become mainstream solutions in virtually every aspect of business operations, including Customer Support, Salesforce Automation, IT Support, HR Support, and more. Though there are many similarities in these applications, it is a keen understanding of the inherent differences that can make or break a successful deployment. Selecting a product that falls short of expectations in just one or two key areas can lead to time delays, as well as wasted (and potentially very costly) financial and personnel investment.

Never has this been truer than in selection and deployment of a new HR system, particularly HR Help Desk. For instance, a lack of privacy features in the help desk system can breach confidentiality agreements, potentially risking expensive and time consuming legal actions.

A well designed HR system, built explicitly for HR, will plug all of the security holes that may exist in some non-HR centric applications. We invite you to take this simple test below and score your current system against the best solutions, such as LBi HR Help Desk 5.0.

Give yourself 5 points for every question you can unequivocally answer “Yes”.

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BYOD: My Employee Resigned – And His Smartphone Is Full of Business Data

Recent research from British law firm EMW paints a distressing picture of employee data theft. EMW found that cloud computing makes it easier for employees to take enterprise data when they leave, and that court cases over theft of business information increased 56 percent from 2011 to 2012. Adopting “bring your own device”, or BYOD,  in your business can leave you vulnerable to employee data theft when staff move on. Accept this, then take steps to minimize your risk.

What’s at Stake if an Employee Walks

When an employee leaves, he carries with him knowledge of your products, services and workflow. Employee laptops and phones will have enterprise and client emails, strategic information, work documents and other data. Since employees may leave for a variety of reasons, every policy should take this into account. Employees who transfer to another office or take a medical leave may need to keep business information, while those who resign, are laid off, or are fired should not keep data.

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HR HelpDesk Can Burnish Your Employer Brand

The days are gone when a company could control its brand either as an employer or a market solution. Gone also are the days when nearly everything a potential candidate or buyer knew about a company came directly from its public affairs office, from stories the company urged its employees and existing clients to disseminate, or from articles that appeared in the business media.

That was before the days of the Internet and social media, before we had the myriad channels through which an organization’s image could be trumpeted – or soiled. “Brand ambassadors, or employee evangelists, are becoming an increasingly common way for brands to leverage their biggest asset – their workforce, of course – to reach new markets, generate buzz, and put a real face on the company,” journalist Eric Markowitz wrote in Inc. Magazine. “They can be tweeters, bloggers, Facebookers – or they could just be the people you send to corporate events.”

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What Is a Company’s Most Valuable Asset? Its Employees

Recently I closed one of the biggest contracts of my career. The last key piece that sold it was “our employees”. During one of the sales meetings the prospect’s CFO said something profound – “after all, it is not so much about choosing Company A over Company B as it is with being comfortable with the people from Company A”. The CFO liked the team that presented the solution but he wanted to be assured that the team that will execute it was just as good. So I sent him the name and bio of everyone who would be assigned to the project. We then followed that up with an in-person presentation of all the team members. The next day we got the contract.

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How Your Employees Communicate with Each Other Does Matter

By | HR Efficiency | Leave a comment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phone, email, text, instant message (IM), in person? Unfortunately, many younger workers have grown up in a world where face-to-face (or even phone) communications are not deemed necessary in order to interact effectively with others. The nuances of verbal communications have given way to graphical emoticons and cryptic acronyms. Why bother interpreting visual or audible cues when there is a Smiley face for that?

Have we forgotten about the importance of body language and vocal inflections? In the animal kingdom virtually all creatures converse, not with the written word, but rather by sight and sound. And they apparently are quite successful at it. If sophisticated communications within species through visual and audible means is the product of millions of years of evolution, what does that say about humans and texting? Is this really the next phase in our evolution… or not?

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Stay True to Your Mission Statement

Almost every organization has a formal, written Mission Statement. These statements have at least two primary purposes — to clearly state long-term corporate goals, and to generally set the guiding principles by which employees conduct themselves internally and with their customers.

Mission Statements are top-down mandates that every employee must follow in their daily professional lives. Often it is the responsibility of HR and middle management to monitor (formally or otherwise) their employees to ensure adherence to corporate policies, including those broad principles detailed in the Mission Statement. So how can “the mission” be efficiently monitored day to day, week to week, and beyond, particularly in larger organizations?

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Bullying in the Workplace

By | Compliance | Leave a comment

One of the top sports stories in the news lately has been the issue of player bullying in the NFL. Recently, a rookie player for the Miami Dolphins, a 312 lb., 6’5″ tackle, suddenly resigned due to accusations of bullying by another player, foregoing a high six figure salary.  Certainly not your typical target, how is it even possible that the allegations (including physical, verbal and mental abuse) could be true? Who in their right mind would bully a 6’5″ giant?  Except maybe another 6′ 300 lb. giant.

But that’s not the real story here.  Several of the accused player’s teammates and many other NFL players are defending the accused, primarily on the basis that this is a common and accepted practice in the league, particularly with rookie players.  Think of it as harmless “initiation” or “hazing”.  In the eyes of many within the NFL community, these alleged actions were simply a means of toughening up the victim, preparing him for the rigors of the sport.  And since the victim ultimately could not take the abuse and subsequently resigned from the team, the team and league are now at a better place – after all it’s about survival of the fittest.  For the NFL, this story is far from reaching its conclusion.

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Why Do the Hottest Things Lose Their Mojo So Quickly?

By | Strategic HR | Leave a comment

This past summer three of my favorite TV shows ended: Breaking Bad, Dexter, and Burn Notice. Each one was very successful yet only one remained on top until the very end. Why is that? Did the others lose their way or just ride out the series like a cash cow?

As far as the reasons behind the failures of Dexter and Burn Notice, they are a matter of personal opinion. Dexter clearly had jumped the shark and, given the series plot, it got less real with each additional microscope slide. As for Burn Notice, in my opinion, it tried to be like the competition and turned from a fun campy A-Team-like show to a lame spy thriller.

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HR Delivery Excellence Demands HR-dedicated Case Management: True Temper Tools Would Agree

“The right tool for the right job.”

That’s been the advertising slogan for True Temper tools since at least 1907, when the Cleveland-based company was called American Fork & Hoe. The catchphrase is just as true today as it was then, and not only when it comes to forks and hoes.

Without the right technology for the right job, it’s highly unlikely any mission will achieve its optimal outcome. Sure, the job might get done. But at what cost? What will be left out or left behind? How much better could the job have been done with the right tools – with the benefit of software and a system, for example, uniquely designed to accomplish that particular job?

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HR Tech 2013 Recap: The Puzzle of HR Technology Solved!

Guests at LBi Software’s HR Tech booth participated in a game to try to solve the puzzle of HR Technology:

Each player would add a piece to the puzzle and try to guess the message. The first correct puzzle guess won a Microsoft Surface and each correct guess after that was put in a drawing for a second Microsoft Surface. Participants would also win a prize for just playing: Kindles, iPod Nanos, ear buds, Amazon gift cards, 8GB flash drives and water bottles.
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Using HR HelpDesk for Talent Management Processes

One of the hottest HR Shared Services products today is talent management software. Designed to manage the entire lifecycle of employee tenure within an organization, these solutions have become one of the most high-demand systems for corporations large and small. However, as they impact virtually every department within HR, from recruiting to benefits to payroll, etc., the decision timeframe for selection of the best-fit solution can be considerably protracted as many users are directly involved in the selection process. Additionally, the most comprehensive systems can be quite expensive, frequently requiring a longer term budget appropriation process.

For many organizations, the short-term solution is to continue with their current painfully inefficient paper intensive processes until a new system can be procured and implemented. There is, however, a viable alternative – LBi HR HelpDesk. As we have discussed in previous articles, HR HelpDesk is a productive and often necessary add-on to even the finest talent management systems, since HR case/ticket management is not generally a component of talent management suites.

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Stack-Ranking Employees (aka rating on the Bell Curve system)

By | HR Effectiveness | Leave a comment

For many years, large companies such as Microsoft, GE and others have rated their workforce on a bell curve system, which dictates how employees in a review period are ranked within their given group. More importantly, it limits how many can be ranked above average, and requires a certain % to be graded below average. Even if the entire team and every individual outperforms their goals!

The image below provides an example of GE’s stack-rank policy:

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Closing the Gap in Talent Management Systems

  • Recruitment
  • Onboarding
  • Performance
  • Training and Development
  • Succession Planning
  • Offboarding

Yes, the very best Talent Management systems are designed to handle the complete lifecycle of your workforce. They connect and manage all of the stages of the employee’s career within the organization. Cradle to grave, as they say.

Or do they? Is there something missing here? Absolutely there is.

Let’s talk about that cradle to grave analogy. Mom and Dad plan to start a family – Recruitment. The big day comes and the bouncing baby is born – Onboarding. Teach the little one how to walk and talk – Performance. Potty training, manners, and formal education follow – Training and Development. College and career aspirations – Succession Planning. The little one finally leaves the nest – Offboarding.

That’s it, right? Wrong. What about all those endless hours of issues, problems, questions and general conversations that you have with Junior through the years? Why can’t I have the car keys? Can you raise my allowance? Can I go to Miami for Spring break with the gang? I am really mad at my brother!

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HR Help Desk vs. IT Help Desk

IT Help Desk solutions are feature rich and generally lower in cost than those developed specifically for HR; but consider the mission critical role of a help desk solution in HR, and the inherent risk of confidentiality breaches from less secure solutions, and the choice seems clear.

IT Help Desk systems generally don’t need to be concerned with employee privacy and information security. They are designed to handle the management of technical computer and telephony issues, software problems, etc. Routing of confidential cases (i.e., harassment or manager dispute cases) strictly to authorized personnel (and out of the eyes of others) is simply not a necessary function for IT. Read 7 Employer Actions that Can Increase Likelihood of a Lawsuit for insights on the importance of HR maintaining proper documentation while handling employee disputes.

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The Affordable Care Act and Your Employees – Communication is Critical

With all the hype created in the media for The Affordable Care Act, (aka Obamacare), it is critical for HR departments to communicate openly with their employees regarding any impact (whether positive or negative) on them financially or otherwise.

While some components of the law have already been enacted, many key provisions (and some of the most confusing) are set to begin in 2014.  Because the press has had a field day covering the political football known as Obamacare, misinformation is bound to be created, causing tremendous FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt).  This fact has the potential to not only generate an unneeded distraction within the workforce at a minimum, but great anxiety and grave concern for their future at the other extreme.

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Are We a Disposable Society? Do We Replace HR Technology Too Quickly?

By | HR Efficiency | Leave a comment

This weekend my friend, an HR Department Head, asked me if he was being too hasty in replacing his legacy HCM system.  After all, his entire department had invested so much time and money into it: learning the nuances, customizations, interfaces…  So I asked him what was wrong with the current system.  His response was that it does not do everything they want and it is too costly to maintain (expensive upgrades and annual fees).  He predicted that the new software’s payback period was less than 3 years.

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Getting Contextual: Beyond Employee Engagement in HR Technology

The use of HR technology to heighten employee engagement is still evolving. In some respects – and despite so much that’s been written about it – applying the features of HR and HCM technology to boost employee engagement is still in its infancy. But in other regards, the trend is already starting to become passé.

The practice of tapping into existing legacy HCM systems to drive employee engagement will soon be outdated. Here’s how Brandon Hall Group and The Starr Conspiracy put it in their recent white paper, The Future of HCM: 7 Trends That Every HCM Provider Needs to Know: “There’s one certainty within this uncertainty. These legacy HCM systems will all eventually go away forever. HCM players have taken novel steps to hasten the progress of this slow death.”

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Making HR Technology Real: A Webinar to Deal With Daily HR Life

Let’s face it. HR technology today is so powerful, so robust, and so omnipresent – not to mention so dressed out with bells, whistles, and data-generating gewgaws – that it’s easy to forget what HR’s most important role is every day: solving people problems.

We recently published an e-book, Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Applying HR Technology to Solve Real-world Problems, because we’re concerned about what we see as a gap between the promises of HR technology and the everyday reality that HR leaders face at ground zero.

HR professional, author, and speaker Robin Schooling was among those who contributed to Where the Rubber Meets the Road, and we’re excited that she’s continuing the conversation with us. Robin will join LBi President Richard Teed on July 24 for a one-hour webinar, “Leveraging HR Technology to Meet Real-world Challenges.”

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Data Security: HR Has a Strategic Role to Play

Myth: Data security is a highly technical and esoteric undertaking that is solely the responsibility of an enterprise organization’s IT department.

Fact: Data security is an increasingly significant concern and function of many stakeholders, including HR.

HR is both a huge generator and an enormous consumer of sensitive information about employees and the company.

The kinds of information HR generates and stores have expanded rapidly in the last decade or two. So have the storage capabilities and amount of data HR is responsible for creating and archiving. It wasn’t so long ago that most of the communication between HR and employees or leadership was spoken, handwritten, or typed onto paper. In addition, it was either never retained or was saved only until the schedule called for it to be shredded or tossed out to make more room in the filing cabinets and storage rooms for newer documents.

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Looking Back to See Ahead: The Predictive Power of HR Case Management Analytics

 

In Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, one fellow asks another: “How did you go bankrupt?” The man answers, “Gradually, and then suddenly.”

The same could be said of many of the most volatile, hot-potato situations you face as an HR leader. Even flare-ups that appear to come out of the blue — a breach of company policy that puts the organization’s brand at risk, a seemingly sudden lack of productivity in one sales department — are really just the straws that broke the camel’s back.

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HR Case Management Software: A Tool for Grievance and Conflict Resolution

“A good manager doesn’t try to eliminate conflict,” says Robert Townsend, author of the bestseller Up the Organization, and co-author of Reinventing Leadership. “He tries to keep it from wasting the energies of his people.”

As an HR professional in an enterprise organization, you have a choice in how your team — and, as a result, your entire organization — handles all of the conflicts that arise from employee complaints, grievances, and concerns.

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Strategic HR: Using Case Management to Build an Enterprise-wide Knowledge Base

Science fiction author Ray Bradbury wrote, “Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.”

A similar argument can be made for almost any enterprise organization, and particularly for their HR departments.

Without a library of your organization’s employee-relevant documents, forms, policies, benefits information, and similar items, you run the risk of seeing the same HR problems repeated over and over, and you have no clear path for preventing similar problems in the future.

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Why Are Employees Leaving? HR Case Management Can Provide Answers

Authors Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman wrote in their 1999 bestseller, First, Break All the Rules: What The World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, that people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers. If anything, that statement rings more true today than ever before.  And it’s even more sobering when you consider the most recent findings from Modern Survey, the employee engagement measurement company.

Modern Survey’s Spring 2013 National Engagement Study found that:

  1. Disengagement among U.S. workers is at its highest level since the company began conducting its twice-yearly study six years ago.
  2. Just over 1 in 3 employees feel that direct managers and supervisors are “most responsible” for engaging employees.
  3. Nearly 1 in 4 managers are, meanwhile, unfamiliar with the concept of employee engagement.

So, when someone leaves your organization, odds are good that the relationship between that person and his or her manager had at least something to do with it. How would HR know what those reasons were? More importantly, how would they know in time to change the course of events? How might the problems that one employee is having with a manager be affecting other employees?

Throwing a wider net, what else is going on among your employees that’s not readily visible on the surface but that could nonetheless be causing employee disengagement and, ultimately, be contributing to their decisions to leave? To begin to answer that question, think of all of the personal and professional issues in any employee’s life that might cause them to reach out to HR.

In an enterprise organization, HR is going to be contacted about employee concerns ranging from complaints about their managers to questions about paid time off. Or employees may need help resolving difficulties over, say, getting medical claims reimbursed or their sales bonuses accurately paid.

We’re not saying any one of those concerns in and of itself would lead to employee disengagement or cause someone to quit. But what if you could see where the common denominators lie? What if you could compare the issues affecting disengaged and terminating employees with those of their colleagues, other business units, or the entire company?

A fully featured, automated HR case management solution with robust and accessible analytics, like LBi HR HelpDesk, gives you the power to look back among HR cases of disaffected and exiting employees to get accurate and timely insight into their concerns and to see how those metrics compare with similar reports for other groups. You can track the same metrics against performance and productivity to determine how trends among exiting employees are affecting the bottom line.

From there, HR can be a more strategic business partner and proactively suggest changes in policies or processes.  With a system like LBi HR HelpDesk, you have the tools to help managers positively affect employee engagement and to generate greater engagement among more front-line workers.

To learn more about how an automated HR help desk can help HR transform data into better workplace performance and up its strategic game, download our white paper “Stay Competitive: Use Your HR Help Desk to Drive and Measure Employee Engagement.”

Image source: CallMe! IQ

Want to Support Talent Development? Get Vision Into Your Workforce

You probably wouldn’t think so, but Helen Keller had some advice for today’s HR leaders. “The only thing worse than being blind,” Keller wrote, “is having sight but no vision.”

Today, HR leaders in enterprise organizations often have access to huge piles of data. It sits before them, a sight to behold, a mountain of data compiled from reports and analytics. But do HR leaders gain vision from what they see?

Does HR get perceptions of who their employees are and what truly matters to them? Do they get fresh insight into how to better support talent management and their organizations’ learning and development systems, or where the opportunities for positive change lie?

That kind of vision can come with the incorporation of an automated HR case management system into a talent management solution or a learning and development strategy. With that combination, the enterprise HR leader can support the employee’s entire life cycle, from onboarding through career development and succession.

Sure, an enterprise talent management system — like a good learning and development system — will show you an employee’s defined goals and the training they’ve completed. But will they give you insight into the employee?

What if you could look at an employee’s talent management curve related to his or her historical interactions with HR … and do that at a glance? What if you could compare how your high and low performers differ in their concerns about such personal, ground-zero matters as the use of paid time off, out-of-network medical coverage, problems with an immediate manager, or any of dozens of other potential red-flag concerns?

And what if you could see how cohorts compare based on pay scale, demographics, or business unit? Now you’re talking about having a vision of what your workforce is all about. You gain actionable insight that empowers you to respond immediately and act strategically.

This kind of analysis becomes increasingly important when you further consider such diverse trends affecting American business as the continued increase in spending on learning and a rise in the number of employees working remotely. High-performing organizations look at the entire spectrum of talent management and development through the lens of HR interactions.

A fully featured automated HR case management solution that provides robust and accessible analytics, like LBi HR HelpDesk, turns seeing into insight through real-time tracking of transactional data across every department and system. Logistically, it’s a no-brainer: The best systems, including LBi HR HelpDesk, integrate seamlessly into most HRIS software and talent development applications.

To learn more about how an automated HR help desk can help HR transform data into better workplace performance and up its strategic game, download our white paper “Stay Competitive: Use Your HR Help Desk to Drive and Measure Employee Engagement.”

Image source: Ecribouille

Assessing Attitudes Toward Employee Benefits with an HR Help Desk

If you’re in a competitive industry (and who isn’t today?), you need to know with confidence that your organization’s benefits and compensation plans are helping you find top talent and retain your best performers. But with the increasing complexity of plan designs, and with the rapidly changing demographics of the workforce, how do you gain the level of insight you need to know if your benefits are, in fact, hitting their marks?

Even more important, how can you get that awareness before your top people become disengaged? How can you proactively suggest revisions to your organization’s plan designs? And how can you do all of that with staff reductions in HR that continue to linger even as the economy begins to recover?

Employees’ attitudes toward their benefits usually only get serious consideration when annual enrollment looms near, or during exit interviews. As for how employees feel about their salary and compensation, those attitudes are usually assessed only during formal salary surveys or, again, in exit interviews. Neither option is optimal.

A fully featured, automated HR case management system like the LBi HR HelpDesk can give you continuous, real-time insight into how your employees feel about their benefits and their compensation packages. It can capture and categorize inquiries about everything from medical plan reimbursements, to changes in pay rates, to concerns about beneficiary coverage. And it can guide HR decision-makers through case management best practices to be able to better support your organization’s strategic initiatives.

LBi HR HelpDesk, for example, creates a centralized, continuously updated knowledge base that’s integrated with case management; you can share information across HR and your business units. The obvious benefit is that inquiries are resolved consistently and efficiently. The less obvious but equally significant advantage is gaining information to help make forward-looking HR decisions.

LBi HR HelpDesk gives you insight into problems with insurance carriers and benefits claims, flexible spending accounts (FSAs), and more. You can learn how easy or difficult it is for employees to change personal information or coverage. You can also evaluate their use of, or employee concerns over, workers’ compensation and other workplace-benefits issues.

The bottom line is that the LBi HR HelpDesk offers powerful benefits and compensation reporting and analytics that give a complete historical view of the interaction between HR and employees. This can identify what’s working, what’s not, and where you can suggest changes.

Risk Reduction and the LBi HR HelpDesk

Corporate life is full of risks of all shapes and sizes. The playing field is riddled with hazards that range from employee lawsuits stemming from a manager’s misconduct to federal sanctions and fines for failing to comply with the reporting guidelines of Sarbanes-Oxley.

LBi HR HelpDesk can mitigate risk for the organization across these areas and more. For starters, the system creates a complete and accurate audit trail of all communications between an employee and HR. Managers and administrators no longer need to go in after the fact and manually recreate timelines or piece together communications from disconnected sources related to a grievance.

Other features of LBi HR HelpDesk that reduce risk and protect the reputation of the organization include:

  • Recording all inquiries and related communications throughout the history of each case
  • Storing all documents and communications related to a case in one place
  • Providing confidentiality for involved employees and security of all communications and documents

Recent enhancements to LBi HR HelpDesk further help reduce corporate risk. Version 5.0, released in December, tracks communications beyond just the employee initiating a case and the HR representative handling it. Dialogues can also be tracked between the HR representative and whomever he or she reaches out to for advice or support on the case.

This functionality gives HR a full picture, at a glance, of all communications related to any individual case. This can be a significant benefit when a case is put in the spotlight or may become part of a legal action.

The variety and detail of ad hoc reports that users can create in LBi HR HelpDesk (expanded in Version 5.0) can also help lessen risk by giving HR greater insight into the flow of cases, the time required to resolve cases, areas in the organization that have had a higher-than-average rate of grievances, and other standards that can identify potential areas for improvement or action before they escalate.

At the end of the day, users of LBi HR HelpDesk can leverage myriad features that give insight across the breadth of HR processes and throughout the organization to help minimize the risk of litigation, noncompliance and oversights.

Riddle Us This: How Is an Automated HR Help Desk Like the Federal Budget Sequester?

The answer: Just by implementing it, you’ll cut your costs.

Unlike the budget sequester, however, an automated HR case management system is highly unlikely to stir debate over whether you should have taken a different path.

One proven advantage of a fully featured, automated HR case management system is that it will reduce HR department expenses. Period.

At the very least, quality HR help desks let HR quickly and easily centralize and manage huge amounts of information from various systems across the organization. (The new term for this in the digital age, by the way, is “information curation.”) A system with the right features can then take that information and, on the fly, create a searchable, automated knowledge base. Information delivery across the entire organization suddenly becomes a whole lot more consistent. Front-line employees and managers can go directly to the knowledge base to find answers about everything from safety policies to their medical insurance benefits.

The benefit is obvious: greater and more efficient HR service delivery, which means lower HR costs.

Industry research, in fact, says that an effectively deployed HR help desk can reduce unnecessary calls to HR by as much as 75 percent. HR Management magazine has cited a Gartner report that says HR organizations spend as much as 80 percent of their time dealing with administrative duties and questions from employees and managers. With an automated HR help desk, HR team members have more time to spend on work that is more strategic, and fewer HR team members are needed to field employee calls.

In addition, how about the savings you gain if your HR help desk offers automated, online access for employees anytime, from nearly any Internet browser, and on almost any device? The least expensive way to deliver HR service is electronically, such as through web self-service, email, and online chat.

If all of that is true (and all of it is), riddle us this: Why, according to the Shared Services Institute in 2010, had only 56 percent of large organizations deployed an automated case management system? Why had only 40 percent implemented an automated knowledge base as part of their HR services system? And why are the most resource-intensive communication channels — such as telephone calls to HR and call centers — still the preferred methods for HR service interaction?

It doesn’t need to be that way.

To learn more about how an automated HR help desk can help HR reduce costs and up its game, download our white paper “Five Top HR Challenges and How an Automated HR Case Management Solution Can Beat Them.”

Image source: Bill Hood

An Employee on Autopilot: A Potentially Costly Frenemy

If you don’t know the term, a “frenemy” is the friend whose words or actions hurt you, regardless of whether you believe that’s their intention. A frenemy is the friend you ought to get rid of, but don’t. Why? Because as the Urban Dictionary puts it, “they’re nice, they’re good … you’ve had good times with them … they’re good people that you can count on to bring you down again sometime in the near future.”

Sound like some of your employees? Do you think they’re not hurting you every day? Maybe you think that because they’re not consistently underperforming or causing you grief, they’re not steadily eroding your bottom line. They are. They’re hurting the company through their own middling performance and because of their impact on colleagues.

In its trailblazing research, The Gallup Organization identifies three groups of employees: engaged, not engaged and actively disengaged. We’d argue that a frenemy is already actively disengaged. Because with employee engagement, as in life, there truly is no middle ground. As Anakin Skywalker says to Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, “If you’re not with me, then you’re my enemy.”

That includes the employee who’s on autopilot, the employee who’s along for the ride. That person, plain and simple, is a step away from becoming an “actively disengaged” employee.

And the damage wrought by a disengaged employee is staggering.

Curt Coffman, co-author of the Gallup-research-fueled books First, Break All the Rules and Follow This Path, describes the “actively disengaged” employee as a “CAVE dweller.” It’s an acronym for “consistently against virtually everything.” Coffman has written that, “Every day, actively disengaged employees tear down what their engaged co-workers are building.”

How much does that cost you?

Gallup research estimates that disengaged employees are costing the American economy as much as $350 billion a year in lost productivity. The organization’s most recent figures say 16 percent of the U.S. workforce is actively disengaged. That means slightly more than three of every 20 employees on your payroll are, at best, impeding the good of your engaged employees.

More to the point, Gallup says disengaged employees:

  • Take more sick days and are tardy more often
  • Undermine the work that more-engaged employees perform
  • Cost each employer $3,400 to $10,000 in annual salary
  • Miss deadlines and achieve poor sales

Indirectly, the cost of disengaged employees includes:

  • Higher customer complaints, because disengaged employees become frustrated more easily and pass their cynicism and negativity to customers
  • Turnover costs to train new employees when disengaged workers quit or influence colleagues to leave

Our last post shed light on three super-significant factors for influencing employee engagement in today’s shifting economy (trust, values and a purpose-driven mission) and where to look to discover employee dissatisfaction and concerns. The same solution — an automated HR help desk — can be leveraged to discover who your frenemies are, identify their concerns and recommend changes in policies, processes and management procedures.

You may not be able to turn a frenemy into an engaged employee. But you can point the ship in the right direction to keep other employees from becoming disengaged.
Image source: Roving Coach International

Employee Engagement — Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back in the Water

For a while, it seemed that American business was federally required to include something about employee engagement in every single human resources and talent management conference or publication. Then the recession hit.

Employee engagement took a back seat to nearly every other aspect of trying to navigate a successful business and do more with less. HR and its related operations were no exception. Then the economy began to recover — however slowly and unevenly — and employee engagement roared back as a hot topic.

Except now, the dialogue around employee engagement is more pointed and we have a lot more research to inform the conversation. What we’re all learning as  a result is that most of what we assumed about what drives employee engagement was simply wrong.

For starters, didn’t we think that as the economy improved, employee engagement would rise? Wrong. In late 2011, an AON Hewitt poll of 5,700 global employers found that engagement levels through the third quarter of 2011 were about the same as the year before and were actually lower than in 2009 and 2008.

The report prompted one writer on staffing and recruiting trends to comment: “Unless employers change course and start listening to their employees, they may see a drop in productivity or increased absenteeism and turnover.”

Indeed.

But what do you listen to? How do you listen to your employees? These are the questions that are driving the new discussions around employee engagement.

Consider more recent research that included an empirical study of observations from 36,000 employees in 18 countries. This study identified three common denominators that, as the final report said, “give rise to a highly inspired group of super-engaged employees.” Those are, quite simply:

  • Trust
  • Values
  • A purpose-driven mission

We’d argue that those three factors should take any HR leader back to the same kind of questions we asked just a paragraph or two above. Where can you look to learn if your employees trust their managers and the company? How can you know if they respect and are aligned with the company’s values? What data exists to tell you if they feel they and the company are purpose-driven?

Look at it another way: Where can you look to see if employees are mistrustful, disagree with the company’s values or don’t feel they have a purpose-driven mission? The answer may be right in front of you. It may be in the tools and technology that HR has its disposal today, such as an automated HR help desk.

Think about it.

An HR case management system should be able to provide you with a wealth of insight into what employees are feeling and what they see as wrong with the company — from a complaint about a manager to a problem with the retirement savings plan. And a quality help desk will gather that information for you to mine while maintaining employees’ privacy and confidentiality.

Research shows employee engagement matters. Research also shows we know less than we thought about what that means. You can use all of the help you can get to help move the needle at your organization.

Image source: LRN ‘The How Report’

Recognition: We Don’t Chase It, but We Surely Appreciate It

We’re pretty sure that in Lincoln, the new blockbuster movie about the sixteenth president of the United States, actor Daniel Day-Lewis never voices these words of wisdom attributed to Honest Abe: “Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.”

That’s LBi in a nutshell. We’re passionate about our work, dedicated to our vision and committed to our clients. We strive to be worthy of recognition. But receiving recognition is not why we do what we do.

On the other hand, like most any other business, when recognition comes our way, we’ll accept it — particularly when it comes from a source we respect. So on Valentine’s Day, we were happy to see we were featured in a post by Robin Schooling, SPHR, on her blog, HR Schoolhouse.

Schooling’s the vice president of human resources for the Louisiana Lottery Corp., an influential blogger and a social media expert. She’s also very involved in SHRM at the state and national levels. Her Feb. 14 post, Your HR Help for When They’re Joined at the Hip, speaks directly to one of the fundamental benefits of LBi HR HelpDesk. As Schooling writes, it gives HR powerful tools for “managing employee relations and service issues on a grand scale.”


Schooling’s post talks about the time she was in corporate HR and got a call from a frantic hiring manager. Five of the manager’s employees had just walked into her office, handed over individual letters of resignation, and “turned on their collective heels and walked out the door.”

As Schooling says, LBi HR HelpDesk has the power to help HR detect employee concerns and discontent before they can escalate and affect performance to that level.

“What are the trends?” Schooling asks in her post. “Are there potential looming issues that may arise based on what’s going on? That is what HR practitioners need to analyze.”

It precisely defines a key benefit of LBi HR HelpDesk. And we’ll gladly accept recognition for that.

Employee Social Networking and Corporate HR

Do employers have the right, whether legally or ethically, to monitor the private social network sites of their employees?  Certainly employers may legitimately have full access to public-facing pages, such as an employee’s public profile on Facebook or LinkedIn, but what about sites that permit users to configure viewer access rights?  In these cases, to ensure full uncensored access, employers must either be “friended” by the employee (or some similar method depending on the service) or be provided with their user name and personal password.

These legal and ethical questions will be debated elsewhere, but the question here for employers is how much value is actually derived from this information, and how it is relevant to the employee’s performance or professional relationships within the organization.  Modern HR systems, such as LBi’s HR Help Desk, provide links to employee public social network pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and others.  How HR actually uses the information may vary greatly from company to company.

Positive employee relations are critical to the success of most businesses.  Logically, a deeper understanding of employees actions outside of work can only help HR effectively manage workers within the organization.  Questions such as “is the employee seeking new employment” or “is the employee bad-mouthing his/her job or the company” are fair and reasonable to ask, and answers can often be found on social networking sites.  Also concerns about unruly public behavior, drug and alcohol abuse, and other issues that can create negative workplace behavior are typically discernible on these sites as well.  Employees are entitled to their privacy, but HR operations within corporations have the fiduciary duty to ensure employees are conducting themselves professionally and responsibly within the terms of their employment.

Benefits of the LBi Software Framework

LBi Software utilizes a Web Application Framework and a Business Objects Framework

 

The use of a framework both simplifies and accelerates the software development process. A framework is a reusable module for developing software. It packages together key pieces of functionality which can be easily incorporated into multiple applications. This facilitates the implementation of core features because code can be written once and used multiple times.

At LBi Software, we have developed two distinct web application frameworks to support our suite of both custom and packaged solutions.

LBi Web Application Framework

The LBi Custom Web Application Framework allows LBi to quickly develop flexible data driven applications to meet the customer’s needs and is easily adaptable to future changes. The framework supports the separation of logic and processing between front-end display, data storage and business logic processing. This is referred to as the MVC (Model View Controller) design pattern.

Model represents the data; this is maintained separately from the actual underlying database structure. The abstraction from the actual database design allows updates to table layouts and optimization of data access methods without impacting the function of the system.

View represents the display and update of the pages; keeping this separate from the back end processing allows screens to be customized without affecting the business logic. This also eases the possible future incorporation of a separate display type (e.g., mobile devices).

Controller represents the flow of screens and the business logic processing; having this separate keeps the business logic in a single place. This allows for easy updates to business rules without impacting the rest of the system.

The controller level incorporates what we refer to as an “event handling” infrastructure. Events act as messages – they originate in the front end, as a user makes a request. The event is passed to the business logic layer, or “services” layer, of the application. Here, rule checks, database updates, and other pieces of business logic are performed. Then, an event response is sent back to the controller to update the model and view accordingly.

LBi Business Objects Framework

In order to facilitate the implementation of Business Intelligence (BI) through the use of Business Objects (BO) into web applications, we have also created a custom Business Objects framework.

This framework encapsulates many of the most powerful and often used features of Business Objects. By building on the existing Business Objects SDKs, we are able to use the framework to rapidly deliver BO solutions without the need to “reinvent the wheel” with each new application. The framework combines functions from many of Business Objects’ offerings into a single package which can be leveraged by web applications to provide BI tools to end users.

The BO framework allows for quick and easy access to SDK features that are most commonly needed in integrating a web application with Business Objects.

Direct Access to the BO Session is provided by automatically connecting a user to BO “behind the scenes” when they enter the web application. Access to the BO session is needed to perform virtually any operation.

Custom Reporting is enabled by exposing the key pieces of the BO SDK which allow for the generation of Web Intelligence reports directly from application code. This powerful feature allows developers to create rich and highly dynamic reports, eliminating the need to create pre-defined “templates”. Instead, reports can be driven off user input at runtime.

Access to BO Universes provides web developers with a way to access the BO data model and provide end users with powerful tools such as ad-hoc reporting and dynamic querying. This level of access to the Business Objects universe is designed to provide your everyday application users with the ability to run complex queries without having to understand the complexity behind the scenes.

Scheduling and Publishing allows users to schedule reports to run at predetermined intervals with chosen parameters. Publishing allows these reports to be automatically delivered to desired recipients.

In summary, the use of our frameworks allows LBi to rapidly develop rich business applications by leveraging pre-written code for common services.

Social Networking and HR

How social networks can extend the reach of the Human Resources Department

Anyone who thinks online social networking sites are just a passing fad needs to consider a few cold hard statistics. Facebook alone claims over 800 million users worldwide. That’s more than twice the total US population! It also happens to be more than the combined populations of France, Italy, Germany, UK, Ireland, Russia, Spain, Belgium, Greece, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Canada, Mexico, Switzerland, Austria, and Australia! Add in LinkedIn users, Twitter users, and users of other social networking sites, one can readily conclude that this is not a fad but rather a powerful and growing phenomenon.

It’s not unreasonable to assume that a majority of employees in any one company are already utilizing one or more sites to interact with their friends, family and coworkers. However, HR departments have yet to really integrate their current resources (such as employee portals and knowledgebase services) with websites like Facebook and others. Frankly, in recent years, most businesses have only attempted (some successfully) to tap into the vast marketing power of social networking sites.

Since your employees are already communicating with each other (and their peers in other businesses) via these services, why not embrace the movement and expand the capabilities internally? LinkedIn, for instance, is the #1 website for recruiters and headhunters. Facebook is best known for creating and promoting communities of people with like interests. Aren’t recruiting and building a sense of community key functions of HR departments? One of the reasons for Japan’s economic growth was that corporations recognized the importance of treating employees like family and as integral members of the organization. More workers in Japan than in any other country spend their entire careers with the same company. As any business executive knows, tenure equates to productivity, while high employee turnover can be very unproductive.

Human Resource departments most likely already have the business and personal email addresses of every current and many former employees. By tying employees’ Facebook and LinkedIn (or other services) accounts into the corporate account, the business can instantly create an environment for building relationships with employees, encouraging feedback, and ultimately fostering new and creative ideas that will make the company stronger and more competitive – not to mention drawing the interest of potential new employees and customers.

Though there are many online social networking sites, clearly Facebook and LinkedIn are the largest and most popular with business users. However, they have significant differences and are not mutually exclusive. Any business could (and arguably should) maintain accounts on both sites. LinkedIn is geared mainly towards business professionals desiring to share their work experience with others, in addition to maintaining memberships in specialized user groups. As mentioned earlier, LinkedIn is the #1 internet destination for recruiters seeking qualified candidates for open jobs. LinkedIn users typically list their entire work history and core business strengths online. Users have an open profile which anyone can see, and generally a more detailed profile available to their approved connections. LinkedIn supports “Three Degrees of Separation”:

1st Degree – Your Connections
Two Degrees away – Friends of friends, each connected to one of your connections
Three Degrees away – Reach these users through a friend and one of their friends

It is easy to see how this can exponentially expand your reach.

Facebook is much more of a true “social” network. Users have profiles, which include both personal and professional interests. They can post pictures, videos, and other material for their “friends” to see. In Facebook, users can also show their approval of a specific post by “liking” the post. Facebook integrates with other services such as Foursquare.com to allow users to track their friends’ current locations, favorite restaurants, etc.

Understanding the features and differences between these services will help HR departments expand their services into the online social networking world. Corporate HR departments embracing social networking services can take a page from the Japanese philosophy in business,believing that “the sum is greater than the parts”. They can quickly begin to realize significant dividends in their investment, since the employees are already online and individually taking advantage of the services. Employees will be happier, more engaged in the overall business, and will truly feel they are a valuable member of the corporate community.

HR Case Management Enhances Talent Management

One of the hottest HCM business solutions today is Talent Management. At the 2011 HR Technology Conference & Exposition in Las Vegas Talent Management vendors outnumbered all other HCM vendor categories. Talent Management (TM) systems are designed to help companies manage the full life cycle of employees, from recruitment to onboarding to employee development to offboarding.

Unfortunately, what these powerful systems generally don’t do well is monitor individual employee satisfaction and general contentment during their tenure with the organization. Yes, the better systems manage performance and track employee growth; but what about confidential issues, employee disputes, embarrassing harassment situations, and other matters important to the employee but not on the radar of TM software?

Professionally and expeditiously managing these all-important events is in the dominion of the HR department, who may handle these cases very well individually while not necessarily recognizing potential patterns of employee issues. This is particularly true when specific HR representatives manage the help desk calls for specific locations. For instance, one company division or location prides itself on high employee retention while another similar facility struggles to keep the best workers. But what is the difference in these two similar business operations? They use the same talent management solution, the same HR system, and abide by the same HR policies. Additionally, management at the struggling location may not be able to pinpoint specific problems that are causing a higher degree of turnover.

So where does the answer lie? The answer can frequently be found in the history of employee interactions with HR personnel. However, without a system for collecting, archiving, retrieving and analyzing these interactions, it is virtually impossible to detect patterns of issues systemic within the organization that may lead to larger problems. Repeated questions about available Paid Time Off (PTO) days, dissatisfaction with company insurance plans, management disputes, work environment issues, and other potential red-flag cases cannot be uncovered by reviewing any individual employee record. Businesses need comprehensive HR Case Management software designed to filter through large databases of cases to recognize these patterns and understand the possible ramifications.

There are underlying common-themed personnel issues within an organization which can often directly suggest causes for more apparent concerns, such as employee retention problems, excess absences, or dips in productivity. Discovering those issues quickly and determining the potential consequences requires the right business solution – one that may not be found in even the best Talent Management systems. However, armed with the right information, management can put policies and procedures in place to mitigate problems before they become systemic. Automated Case Management Systems are designed to gather the right data points and provide exactly that type of powerful analysis.

When HR Help Desk / Case Management is incorporated into a comprehensive Talent Management strategy, the organization truly then provides the full lifecycle support for incoming employees, ultimately contributing to measurable performance gains. And the good news is the best Case Management systems, such as LBi HR HelpDesk, are designed to work seamlessly with both your HRIS software as well as the leading Talent Management applications.

In conclusion, for organizations planning to deploy end to end Talent Management systems, it would be prudent to evaluate the addition of an HR Help Desk / Case Management component to your solution map. Implementing an automated Case Management system will truly contribute to your project goals and add significant personnel performance benefits.

Keeping the Human Factor in Automated HR Helpdesk

Providing employees with choices while keeping their confidentiality

Consider the evolution of terms referring to the traditional HR department. Initially there was the “Personnel Department”, which simply referenced employees as people. Next came “Human Resources”, further defining employees, albeit subtly, as business assets. The current term in vogue is “Human Capital Management”, essentially redefining people as revenue and profit generating business assets.

Unfortunately, though this transition of terms more accurately describes the role of employees in organizations today, it also tends to take the “personal” out of “personnel”. HR software business solutions have the potential to further reduce the close interaction between employees and HR staff. Just as interactive voice response systems virtually eliminate the need for customer contact with live support agents, so can automated HR support systems.

Automated HR Help Desk solutions are designed to minimize direct 1:1 personal contact with HR, which is both good and bad.

  • Good – saves money, time, and frees up HR for other tasks.
  • Bad – less personal contact with HR, potentially risking employee satisfaction issues.

However, solutions like LBi HR HelpDesk include a feature that allows employees to request their case resolution via phone, in person, email, etc., which provides the ability to create cases online but receive a response in person or other preferred level of contact. LBi HR HelpDesk also includes features that allow cases to be marked confidential and have them routed to specific representatives trained to handle special cases. Providing the ability to discretely submit a potentially embarrassing case such as a manager dispute or harassment accusation specifically to authorized senior HR personnel, and have the resolution process equally as discrete, truly supports the “Human Factor” in automated systems.

In organizations lacking an automated Help Desk system, employees are generally forced to make initial contact with one or more HR representatives whom ultimately may need to escalate their case to senior or properly trained personnel. This added level of contact risks employee privacy. Sometimes, just physically walking into the HR office can raise unwanted questions and curiosity among company staff.

In many help desk cases, such as simple PTO requests or tuition reimbursement questions, automated systems will speed responses to the employee, thereby saving valuable HR personnel time. Less unnecessary burden on the HR staff again supports the “Human Factor”.

The bottom line is the best automated systems provide employees with the greatest personal choice in selecting their preferred method of contact with HR, ultimately increasing employee satisfaction while providing the confidential interaction with HR that they deserve. From HR’s point of view, valuable administrative staff time is freed up to manage more strategic tasks. Not only is the “Human Factor” alive and well in the best Automated Help Desk solutions, it is the primary purpose for deploying such business systems. Systems such as LBi HR HelpDesk increase employee satisfaction and improve overall HR operations, ultimately driving improved performance within the whole organization.

Cloud Computing and LBi Software

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Cloud Computing is a general term used for delivering hosted services over the Internet. What’s different about Cloud service as compared to traditional hosting is that it is sold on demand, typically by the minute or the hour; it is elastic — a user can have as much or as little of a service as they want at any given time; and the service is fully managed by the provider. A Cloud can be private or public. A public Cloud sells services to anyone on the Internet. A private (virtual private) Cloud is a proprietary network or a data center that supplies hosted services to a limited number of people. When a service provider uses public Cloud resources to create their private Cloud, the result is called a virtual private Cloud. Whatever type used, the goal of Cloud computing is to provide easy, scalable access to computing resources and IT services.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a collection of various hosted network services. LBi uses two of the services offered – Elastic Cloud Computing (EC2) and Simple Storage Service (S3).

EC2 is a web service that provides resizable computing capacity in the Cloud. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers. LBi uses EC2 to host all of its websites, as well as several applications. EC2 allows you to run virtual servers (called instances) in the Cloud. You can run as many servers as you want and Amazon invoices based on hours of use and bandwidth. LBi has also used EC2 to load test versions of its products. For example, LBi HR HelpDesk was installed on one instance and a load testing program was run on another instance. The benefit of using EC2 is that it provides more bandwidth and processing power than running the test in LBi’s offices. An additional benefit of hosting something in the Cloud is that the website/data is now stored out of the office in a backed-up/redundant environment. This helps to prevent the catastrophic loss of data from something such as a fire in the company’s data center.

In addition to EC2, LBi also utilizes S3. This service is essentially a virtual hard drive in the sky. S3 is used to back up our EC2 databases every 3 hours, and files are backed up from S3 back to LBi as an additional safeguard.

Almost two years ago, we began all our hosting through EC2. This was done after a successful, issue-free, year long test using EC2 to host our corporate and Appraisal Application sites. By using these services, we can be sure our sites are secure, resilient and reliable. We can also ensure that they provide us with the ability to scale our applications to any size business, small or massive. LBi also uses cloud computing for demonstrating our applications. Using cloud computing, the application is available for prospects to evaluate at their convenience.

LBi also utilizes EC2 to deliver its SaaS (Software as a Service) Cloud option. As of 2010, LBi Software began to deliver its HR HelpDesk and Time and Attendance products as SaaS. LBi Software offers two SaaS hosting options: 1. Dedicated Server Environment (hosted on a physical dedicated server) and 2. Cloud Computing Environment (utilizing Amazons EC2).

Sites LBi is hosting on EC2

Site/Application Description URL Appraisal Application Appraisal application that LBi developed for a local real estate appraisal company N/A Dutch Property Management LBi designed and hosts Dutch Property Management’s corporate site www.dutchpropertymanagement.com LBi HR HelpDesk LBi’s HR Case Management and help desk product. LBi hosts its SaaS Cloud offering on EC2 N/A LBi Time and Attendance LBi’s time and attendance tracking product. LBi hosts its SaaS Cloud offering on EC2 N/A LBi Software Corporate Site LBi’s corporate brochureware site including a download portal for downloading patches and demos www.LBiSoftware.com LBi Technical Support Website for LBi’s PC and Network support offering www.lbitechsupport.com Richard Security LBi designed and hosts Richard Security’s Corporate Site www.richardsecurity.com Suntec Forest Homeowners Website LBi designed and hosts Suntec Forest Homeowners bulletin board site www.suntecforestcondo.com

In order to safeguard our clients’ material LBi has a process of maintaining redundant backups. The disaster recovery server for all these sites is located at LBi. The database for each site is real-time replicated from EC2 to LBi’s Disaster Recovery server. The Disaster Recovery server is in turn backed up every night. In addition, the entire hosted site is backed up every three hours (increased to 1 hour for critical apps) from EC2 to S3. This process insures that no data is ever lost.

Today, firms require hosting companies to have generator backup, redundant ISPs and in many cases co-locations. When a site is down there is a potential loss of revenue. Through the use of Cloud Computing, smaller companies such as LBi Software can offer its customers this type of premium hosting at a lower cost. For example, one weekend this past July an air conditioner malfunctioned, spiking the temperature in LBi’s Corporate Server room. Technicians had to bring down the servers in the room for six hours. Since all hosting was in the cloud there was no disruption of service to any of LBi’s clients.

Easing the Pain of the Year End Project

The Year End process can be a complicated, highly visible one. LBi has created guidelines to smoothly manage this daunting process.

In a company’s Human Resources and Payroll area, there are a number of particularly time consuming processes that occur at the end of each year. These Year End processes are critical and can include:

  • Imputed Income calculations
  • Deferred Income processing
  • Applying tax updates
  • End of year bonuses
  • Merit increases
  • First payroll of the new year
  • W2s and 1099s
  • State Filings

Typically a team is created to manage the process. LBi has managed this process for several clients and has come up with a project methodology that helps the process run smoothly.

The first step in this methodology is the creation of a checklist. The Year End (YE) process begins by establishing task schedules and priorities. This enables the team to understand both the scope and the scheduling of events and is an essential first step in YE planning and project management. The checklist is used throughout the YE process to ensure that no critical steps are overlooked. After verification by the project stakeholders, the completed checklist is then used to build the Year End Calendar.

The YE Calendar of events expands the tasks in the checklist and incorporates dates and responsibilities. It is then used as a template for complete documentation.

The next step is to perform the required legal and regulatory changes as published by PeopleSoft or other HCM system, or requested by the company, to keep everything in compliance. These items are then added to the Checklist and Calendar.

The final step is to create a comprehensive inventory of all processes, customizations and ad-hoc reports. We identify all special queries required for “data cleanup” and balance adjustments. It is critical to include these ad-hoc reports and processes and productionalize them, as they are typically needed each year. We then assemble all the documentation and testing plans and results for SOX compliance and audit readiness.

There are four key steps in LBi’s Year End methodology:
1. Year End Checklist
2. Year End Calendar
3. Regulatory Updates
4. Inventory

By following these steps, the seemingly daunting Year End process becomes a manageable project.

Employee Self-Service in the Application Portfolio

The technology explosion over the last decade brought us new and innovative ways to use the internet in our daily lives. The technological changes have conditioned people of all walks of life to the online environment as a resource for shopping, banking, job hunting and more. Online applications are now considered to be required for businesses to reach their customers and to support their employees.

Employee Self-Service (ESS) applications represent another step forward in the evolving internet-based services providing employees with access to information and company communications. Self-service programs can be executed over the Internet or a company’s Intranet.
ESS Features

Browser-based and integrated to the company HR applications, ESS provides 24/7 access to employees regardless of where they are, through the Internet or the company Intranet. This access allows for the verification of personal data and the updating of data as changes occur in the employee’s personal and professional life. The end result is data with a higher degree of accuracy and data that is current. ESS portals can be used to access personal and contact information, view paychecks, enroll and change benefit selections and more. Additional links added to the ESS provide access to 401K providers and to company communications and handbooks.

ESS systems offer features that meet the needs of the business, employee and industry with many functions seemingly appearing in several products. Internet-based payroll solutions, for example, facilitate cost savings by allowing companies to reduce resources needed to support the payroll function. Following are some of the features supported on ESS Portals:

Personal Data and Payroll: Review and updates of personal information is one form of self-service which allows employees to view and edit their own personal information. Companies can give their employees permission to review and make changes to their personal data (name, address, etc.), W-4 elections, and voluntary deductions, as well as view their payroll stubs and W-2s. Changes are then reflected in the appropriate HCM systems and the employee database reflects more timely and accurate information. Payroll information can consist of a mix of current information and payroll history.

Benefit Enrollment: The employee maintains information on plan participation and keeps track of benefits plans, performs cost plan analysis, budgetary projections, and tracks/reviews outside carrier reports. Benefits Open Enrollment gives employees the ability to check available benefit plan information and make enrollment changes. The company can provide the benefits manual online to help the employee understand the benefit selection process and options.

Time and Attendance Tracking: Electronic time sheets can dramatically improve payroll efficiency by allowing employees to enter and track their own work hours, paid time off and sick time. This is especially useful for companies with multiple worksites, a widely distributed sales force, employees who telecommute, or contract workers on location at other companies. With Time and Attendance Tracking using ESS electronic time sheets, employees enter their hours and worksite (if applicable) according to company defined categories. Then, they forward the sheet electronically to their supervisor who can approve it online. Electronic time sheets can improve accuracy and reduce handling time by 50% to 75%.
ESS Benefits and Savings

ESS can save time and resources associated with updating and maintaining employee data and company materials for employees such as handbooks and benefit announcements. For example, updating the employee handbook online eliminates the printing and distribution costs associated with a hardcopy manual. On the employee side, the information can now be updated in a more timely manner without utilizing HR resources. This is a win/win for both the company and the employee as the data is more current and the employee has convenient access without going through the HR department.

Self-service has great potential to support the decision-making process by allowing employees to perform “what if” scenarios to test decisions before implementing them. Employees can be given access to tools to try out various strategies for insurance coverage, benefits contributions, and other financial planning, which eliminates the need to request the information from HR or payroll.
ESS Long-term Benefits

When properly implemented, ESS solutions provide a positive impact for employees and employers alike. Employees appreciate the convenience and ability to control personal data, which can ultimately affect performance and retention. Within the payroll department, self-service eliminates paper shuffling and removes tasks that can be handled more efficiently by others. Communications to employees can be done via the portal, eliminating printing and distribution of hardcopy announcements and manuals. Finally, storing information electronically is cheaper than filing paper documents in cabinets.

As the technology becomes more affordable and the number of self-service features increases, ESS solutions will find greater acceptance in the business world. Employees will become increasingly more comfortable with online systems to make changes, get information and manage their own data. Whatever system you chose to run your business, ESS can be integrated to provide timely data and services to your entire staff.