Home » Tag: HR HelpDesk

Newsday Names LBi Software a Winner of the Long Island 2018 Top Workplaces Award

2018 top workplaces

LBi is proud to announce that we have been awarded a 2018 Top Workplaces honor by Newsday. We’d like to thank all of our employees, who made this happen.

The list is based solely on employee feedback that was gathered through a third-party survey that was administered by research partner Energage. The anonymous survey measures several aspects of workplace culture, including alignment, execution, and connection, just to name a few.

According to survey responses, some of the things we do well include:

  • Senior Management understanding what’s really happening at LBi
  • Heading in the right direction as a company
  • Making sure our employees feel genuinely appreciated

Of course, we received some constructive criticism, as well, and have been working on some action items to improve in areas that we’re lacking.

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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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Technology and the Dumbing Down of English Language Arts

ela skills

As every middle and high school student knows, English Language Arts (ELA) encompasses skills in reading, writing, and verbal communication. Unfortunately, today many of these students are sadly lacking in those very critical skills.  In the absence of basic ELA skills, not only is college acceptance more difficult to attain, many times just finding a decent part-time job can be a challenge. Employers rightfully expect young workers to be reasonably literate — with the ability to professionally interact with their customers, verbally and in writing (depending on the job function). But often that’s not happening.

My wife recently took a substitute teaching position at a local high school and quickly discovered that many students cannot effectively read script. How is that even possible? Aren’t we all taught writing in script in elementary school? Yes, but as the saying goes, “if you don’t use it you lose it”. So why aren’t they writing in script? Computer (and cell phone) keyboards are the culprit. Today’s millennials have grown up with keyboards, starting with those “educational” computer games for toddlers and continuing today with smart phones.

Why talk in complete sentences when I can text faster using acronyms, slang and emojis? LOL! Why handwrite my term paper when I can cut and paste faster from Wikipedia.com? Oh yes, that is happening more than you think. Why learn how to spell? Thank you Microsoft Word!

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Employee Self-Service and HR Help Desk

employee self-service portal

What is an HR Help Desk without an employee self-service component? Essentially a very good record keeper of employee HR-related cases/tickets. Data collection in and of itself is certainly a key benefit of an HR case management system — tracking trends, providing early warnings of significant workforce issues, ensuring consistent adherence to HR policies, and much more.

But in the final analysis, it is still an information management system. Data is collected, processed, and archived. Efficiencies are created, analytics provide valuable insights, and some time may be saved.

What would happen if, in addition to my previously-listed benefits, a great amount of time could be saved as well? Incorporate a comprehensive searchable knowledgebase (KB) and employees (in theory) will no longer have to bother HR with common questions, like “when will I receive my W2”? I say “in theory” because unless employees are encouraged to use the KB system, or access is not straight forward and easy to use, little benefit may be obtained.

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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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The Importance of Service Level Agreements in Your HR Help Desk

By | Compliance | Leave a comment
Service Level Agreements

Service Level Agreements (SLA) are the means for tracking and managing response times to resolve employee issues, measured against corporate commitment times (performance guarantees).

For instance, HR may guarantee a 24-hour (one day) response to a paycheck or harassment issue, but as many as 5 days to process a tuition reimbursement request. In many government regulated industries and unionized organizations, businesses may be required by law or contract to provide response guarantees, while other businesses may offer guarantees simply as a courtesy and for good will.

There is no better tool to manage SLAs than your HR Help Desk — assuming you have one. Administrators set up general (broad) case categories and specific subcategories within each category, then assign SLA periods to each subcategory. From there, the system takes over and automatically tracks SLA performance in detailed reports.

So far, so good. But, how robust is the Help Desk SLA configuration engine? Are your rules simple or complex? Do you measure SLA periods in hours or days? Do weekends count towards the SLA time? What about holidays or any other special days? Do they count? Are the rules different for different locations or employee classifications?

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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

Ribbon Cutting for LBi Software’s New Corporate Headquarters

ribbon cutting 7

On Thursday November 30th we held our Ribbon Cutting ceremony.  Thank you to everyone who took the time out of their busy schedules to help us celebrate. The day was a huge success. The weather warmed up just in time for the ribbon cutting and the ceremony was followed by a catered lunch and all day open house. Many of our clients and friends stopped by during the day to take tours of the new headquarters. Please see the slideshow below for pictures of the event.

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LBi Software wants to thank Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul for kicking off the festivities. The Lt.  Governor’s work with the New York State Empire Development Corporation helped make the day possible. LBi also thanks Chad Lupinacci, Huntington Supervisor Elect/Assemblyman, for joining us at the ribbon cutting and presenting LBi Software with a Certificate of Merit.

Most of all we would like to thank our employees, whose dedication and diligence are directly responsible for LBi’s success and helped make this day possible. The new modern office space and all of its amenities are a thank you to our employees.

Related articles

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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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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Is a Chat Service in HR Help Desk a Viable Feature?

Virtually every e-commerce website incorporates an instant online chat service. What better way to get your questions answered quickly and accurately than “speaking” to a trained live agent?

Some questions may readily be answered via a searchable self-help database. But often self-service systems cannot cover 100% of customer issues and/or questions. This is where chat can provide the quality service customers need and expect.

If chat is the ultimate customer service tool for so many businesses, it may seem logical to incorporate chat into other business systems, such as HR Help Desk. Most HR Help Desk systems include at least some level of self-service functionality, but as in e-commerce those databases may not be comprehensive enough to cover every employee issue.

So is chat the answer? Maybe – but unlike e-commerce sites, HR organizations have a number of factors and options to consider before deploying chat. Here are my top 5 concerns that HR must evaluate: …Read More

The Role of HR in Changes in Executive Management

executive management conflict

The recent internal turbulence at the White House has America (and the world) anxiously awaiting the next public airing of their dirty laundry; unless of course it’s all fake news. Just as in any new presidential administration, virtually any business that is adapting to a change in leadership may experience difficulties between managers and executives.  Change in corporations can come in the form of a new CEO or an acquisition/merger or to a lesser extent, a division head.

New management styles and philosophical differences are just a few of the factors impacting leadership; not to mention political maneuvering for a more favored status with the boss. Until the team is settled in, the game of musical chairs will be the norm. Infighting may unfortunately become the status quo.

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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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Who is Wrong – the Recruiter or the Candidate?

candidate recruiter

I read an interesting article recently about a recruiter that became furious when a candidate, who had originally accepted a job offer, reneged after reading multiple negative online reviews about the prospective employer. Apparently the recruiter became extremely belligerent to the candidate, seeing an expected paycheck fly out the window.

Where to begin listing what’s wrong here?

  1. The recruiter works for the employer, not the candidate. Therefore the candidate is under no obligation to do anything at all, much less accept a potentially bad job offer. The candidate is however expected to be professional during the recruitment process, but that is up to the judgment of the recruiter.
  2. The candidate should put his/her best foot forward when working with recruiters. There are lots of fish in the sea, and regardless of how one perceives themselves, often times they are just a number among many numbers of candidates. Not to mention likely burning the proverbial bridge with a recruiter that secured them a real job offer – not a guarantee in today’s job market.

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Using HR Help Desk Statistics to Determine HR Staff Requirements

hr analytics for staffing

The following post first appeared in 2015. 

Much has been written about finding the optimum ratio of HR staff to employee size. A SHRM Human Capital Benchmarking Study has published a suggested ratio based purely on employee count:

The formula to calculate the ratio would be:

(HR Staff Count / Employee Count) x 100

For instance, a 1500 employee company with 10 HR personnel would have a ratio of 0.67, somewhat below the supposed target staff according to the table above (10/1500 * 100 = .67). In theory, based on the chart, 12 HR personnel would be optimal to manage 1500 employees.

SHRM suggests that not all HR staff should be factored into the count. Generally it is recommended to only include HR professionals who work as generalists, and those in areas such as benefits, compensation, labor relations and organizational effectiveness. They suggest that payroll and other specialized roles should not be included in the count.

Obviously this is an imperfect method and is loaded with multiple potential downsides. It does not take into consideration factors such as your industry, business specific circumstances, and the skill/experience of each individual HR worker. It also opens up the door to possible unsubstantiated staff cuts if your ratio is on the high side.

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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

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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Surveying Your Workforce

Employee Survey

Having an HR Help Desk is great for answering employee questions, resolving issues, and running analytics on what is actually happening in the workforce. But frankly, when you think about it, all of these benefits are more reactive than proactive.

HR Help Desk captures in real time the good, the bad, and the ugly in the day-to-day work life of the company’s employees. The question becomes then, how can I anticipate issues before they occur? As we have discussed in previous posts, analytics are a tremendous help but they are still based on past (albeit very recent) actions.

The answer lies in survey tools. There are many very good web-based survey apps, but products such as LBi HR Help Desk already include one. LBi’s HR Help Desk includes a free survey utility that provides admins with the capability to create custom surveys and associated reporting on the collected data. Admins can create and modify surveys at any time. New surveys can be posted then removed and replaced after reports are run, or data is extracted for use in analytic engines.

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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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Improving the User Experience: Happier Employees, Better HR

HR user experience

We’ve been talking a lot about our LBi HR HelpDesk 6.0 update, and for good reason. It’s the most powerful HR case management solution out there, and its many improvements were designed to make your life easier.

Because that’s the whole point of an automated HR case management solution, right? To streamline the process and mitigate the hassle, freeing you to focus on talent management and your employees to focus on their work. Unfortunately, so many help desk software solutions complicate the process and exacerbate the headache. They employ inefficient design and interfaces that do anything but lighten your workload. Even with our HR case manager, we saw room for improvement, and so we created LBi HR HelpDesk 6.0.

As we listened to feedback from our clients, we realized that one of our main improvements would be user experience and accessibility — for both HR and employees. Why? Every time someone logs on to LBi HR HelpDesk, we want them to be able to find exactly what they’re looking for quickly. The interface and design should be user-friendly, enabling users to complete tasks efficiently and come away from the whole experience with a general sense of enjoyment and ease. Joy and HR reporting? Yes, it’s possible.

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To Cloud or Not to Cloud (Your HR Help Desk)

By | HR Technology | Leave a comment
Cloud Computing and Saas

As you are evaluating new HR Help Desk solutions (or really any business software system), one primary consideration is always the software and hardware platform.  SaaS? Hosted? In-house? “Which is better for my business”?

The choices are actually more varied than you might expect. Some vendors may offer only one option, while others such as LBi offer many choices.

As I have stated in previous blog posts, your system selection process should first evaluate if the system functionality substantially meets your requirements, and the vendor has a proven record of high quality support. Once that has been determined, then platform and architecture should be next in line for consideration. Somewhere in there is price — and we will get to that shortly.

Let’s walk through the most common deployment options, and their perceived pros and cons: …Read More

Mixing Business and Politics

employee engagement - politics and biz

Many would say never, ever.  What about the employee engagement factor?  Much has been written about the benefits of employee engagement to the organization. It is widely accepted that increased communication between employees and management improves overall performance. Whether the communications involve grievances, general working environment, work-life balance, or general topics, getting employees active and involved with the business is proven to benefit all.

Let’s face the facts; business is most certainly going to be impacted one way or another by the upcoming presidential election. Never has the country been so divided in terms of the direction the US will take over the next 4+ years.

So what could be more stimulating in the workplace these days than a lively discussion of politics? Not a drop-down dragged-out battle between hardline ideologues, but rather a civil (if that is at all possible) conversation and debate about the current and future state of our country. To paraphrase a common statement, as the country goes, so goes the business.

Everything from health insurance reform to global trade to taxes to immigration impacts virtually every business in one way or another. And considering the vast differences in policy between the major presidential candidates, now more than ever it is important for the workforce to come together and weigh the potential impact on the business, and by extension our own personal lives.

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Increase the Security of Your Company Data with LBi HR HelpDesk 6.0

HR HelpDesk and Data Security

We created the new LBi HR HelpDesk 6.0 based on insightful feedback we received via polls and interviews with our users. One of the things we heard the most? A need for tighter security.

If data security is important to any department, it’s mission critical for HR. Because HR produces and gathers a high volume of sensitive information about your employees and company, the risk of that information being leaked or hacked is a real concern. In a world of digital communication and computerized or cloud-based information storage, all of your company’s conversations, documents, and data regarding benefits, payroll, complaints, hiring processes, and more can be vulnerable to exposure. When looking at an automated case management system for HR, it’s crucial that you’re able to have absolute confidence in your system.

Our users saw room for improvement to the security of our HR case manager and call-tracking workflow solution, and we listened. With LBi HR HelpDesk 6.0, we’re proud to provide you with not only a more user-friendly and functional update, but the most secure version of LBi HR HelpDesk yet. …Read More

How We Determined and Prioritized the New Features for HR HelpDesk 6.0

HelpDesk features

At a sales meeting last week I was asked how LBi Software determines and prioritizes the new features we add to HR HelpDesk. The answer was easy; we poll our users of the various versions – from the Free version to the Enterprise version. At least I thought the answer was easy. The tricky part is always in the prioritizing.

Making a list and checking it twice

Polling your user base is easy in concept. Setup a poll for the SaaS clients (Free, Pro and ProPlus versions) and have the Product Managers call the Enterprise clients directly. Should you have a predefined list of questions?  If so, aren’t you seeding the results?  How do you get the actual user preference? Should you use Free Form questions?

One easy solution was to take all of the SaaS features that were rolled out over the last 2+ years via continuous improvement and ask the Enterprise clients to indicate which ones would be important to them.

So we did all of the above — created Surveys, directly called select Pro and ProPlus clients, called all the Enterprise clients. We then gathered all the results and prioritized.

Prioritizing the list

Here is the problem, we prioritized the list. We lost some of the user preference. Sort of like a parent rearranging the kids list for Santa. The “we know better” attitude takes over. But in HR Case Management we do not know better than the user. In fact, in any application that is the case.

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What’s New: HR HelpDesk 6.0

At LBi Software, we offer innovative, comprehensive HR technology made by HR people, for HR people. So when we make changes to our software, we’ve got you at the forefront of our minds. We’re excited to announce HR HelpDesk 6.0 — the newest version of our case manager and call-tracking workflow solution that creates a rich and powerful knowledge base on the fly.

What’s new with HR HelpDesk 6.0?

Think tighter security, easier access, and better reporting. HR HelpDesk 6.0 will provide users with a modernized and simplified interface for easier employee access, better security, report improvements, and more.

We want the new HR HelpDesk to help you help your people. And you should be able to do that in a way that is safer, more efficient, and less of a headache.

We completely redesigned the Employee Self Service Portal and embedded a Google Translate service with over 99 languages to allow you and your employees to access the portal with ease and communicate in any language you need.

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How Personal Should Employees Get with Personnel?

By | Compliance | Leave a comment
personal privacy for personnel

Employees often forget that HR works for the company, not them. HR has an obligation to keep personal employee information confidential, but there are limits, often not clearly spelled out in employee handbooks and other HR policy documents.

If an employee has personal “issues”, i.e., serious illness, legal problems, divorce, moving out of town, etc., that may potentially impact their performance at work, then HR can and will inform management of the problem. They have every right to know if employee performance may suffer due to personal circumstances.

HIPAA regulations are clearly written regarding release or sharing of an individual’s health information. But HIPAA does not cover 100% of situations where there is sharing of such material. For instance, one HIPAA provision states:

“The Privacy Rule excludes from protected health information employment records that a covered entity maintains in its capacity as an employer…”

One could read into this that anything you share with HR can go into your employee record, and therefore be exempt from HIPAA compliance.

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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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Adding Unconventional But Practical Client-Requested Features

Talking to customers (and prospects) about the software products and services you provide is extremely important to ensure their ongoing satisfaction and exceeding of expectations. Whether you have a formal process such as user groups, online survey forms, or just picking up the phone to gain feedback, customer input is critical to your business growth.

Your clients will tell you what they like, what they don’t like, and what they would like to see in future software releases. With this input, your business solutions will stay ahead of the curve competitively.

Although it is impractical to accept every new feature suggestion, those that fit within your business strategy, and have gained some consensus from multiple clients, will be destined for new versions.

…Read More

Five Ways Data Analytics Can Help Your Business Succeed

data analytics

As a company grows, it can become increasingly important to ensure that the daily running of the business is as simplified as possible. However, even in today’s modern technological times, the vast majority of companies are still using outdated methods for managing employees. As human resources departments face increasingly complex business changes, the use of data analytics can make a significant difference in a company’s employee quality, as well as the overhead spent on hiring, training and even retaining good workers.

Simplify Hiring

In the past, many companies made the majority of their hiring decisions based on a couple of basic things. First, HR professionals reviewed stacks of resumes, setting aside the few that stood out among the rest. Then, they scheduled an interview with each potential new hire. Whether the interview process consisted of one or multiple face-to-face interviews, the hiring manager was still faced with a huge amount of responsibility in choosing the best candidate for each position almost solely based on their own personal instincts. Data analytics, however, enables the HR department of a company to make decisions based on specific data rather than the candidate’s appearance or personality traits.

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Top 10 Rules for PowerPoint

PowerPoint slides

OK, PowerPoint is cool. You can add strange sounds, video, odd text shapes, weird slide transitions, squiggly paths for text entrance, and many, many other unusual effects to your presentations. If you don’t believe me, just look at the presentations your 3rd grade child is creating in school.

But we are adults, presenting to adult audiences. No one is more impressed than you at the oddities you threw into your slide deck. Frankly, only you are impressed by your PPT talents. The rest of us get dizzy and distracted, and lose the point you are trying to make.

On the flip side, plain text on a plain background will put your viewers to sleep. I promise you that.

So where is the balance? Yes, there is one, and it starts with 10 simple rules to follow:  Here they are: …Read More

Confidentiality is Critical for your HR Help Desk

The single most critical difference between LBi HR Help Desk and more generic IT help desk systems is the concept of confidentiality. Any help desk solution can automatically route tickets to a specific individual or group based on company workflow rules. Generic systems may also be able to prevent unauthorized eyes from opening and editing particular cases.

LBi HR Help Desk goes a step further and literally hides any confidential cases from the view of unauthorized users. In other words, confidential cases will not show up on any user’s search results, filtered lists or reports unless they are assigned the case (or are the case owner’s manager). It is like the case doesn’t even exist to unassigned users.

In LBi’s hosted environment, even IT doesn’t have access to the entire database (unless explicitly approved by HR).

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The Upside to Workplace Conflict and How to Deal with it Successfully

By | Strategic HR | Leave a comment

The list of possible causes for workplace conflict is long enough to seem insurmountable, and a company completely free of inter-staff strife is rare. Any situation requiring the collective involvement of individuals with unique perspectives, strengths and weaknesses will result in priority differences that can lead to clashes. Rather than hope for the best to avoid conflict, try to face it instead by working through it and celebrating conflict’s silver lining.

The Upsides to Workplace Conflict
Disagreements in the workplace aren’t always the result of personalities that don’t mesh. Conflict can sometimes arise from two equally valid but incompatible approaches to work completion. In this situation, what you have is not a conflict but an opportunity to create a backup strategy. When a current procedure isn’t as effective as anticipated, then procedural conflict can jump-start conversations that result in new ideas and solutions.

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How Big Data is Transforming Human Resources

Datafication How Big Data is Transforming Human Resources

Advances in technology have transformed the role of human resources (HR) professionals over the past 50 years. Today’s HR specialists are expected to take on strategic planning that adds value to the company’s bottom line — a big change from HR’s early days of basic data entry.

In the very near future, the role of HR will shift again. While strategic planning will remain at the forefront of HR responsibilities, rapid changes in technology are revolutionizing the way strategic decisions are made.

Linking Data Analysis to Strategic Planning

In a global survey of C-level executives, researchers at KPMG determined 82 percent of organizations plan to increase their use of data analysis to make human-capital-related strategic decisions over the next two or three years. Evidence-based HR will be standard practice, and HR professionals without the skills needed to analyze big data and apply findings to strategic planning will find themselves left behind.

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HR – To Debate or Arbitrate

In this season of presidential debates, one thing is not debatable: the undeniable importance and value of your workforce to the organization’s success. The political players debate each other, they debate the other party, and occasionally (through calculated flip-flopping) they actually debate themselves. Not to mention the debater’s best friend — spin doctoring. In the end, sometimes it appears their primary interest is in themselves (getting elected), and less about “We the People”, their constituents.

Politicians (as we are learning from all-to-many debates) have the luxury on the debate stage to pronounce unambiguously that their “new and innovative policies” are beneficial to the full electorate. After all, as several candidates have pointed out, some candidates have actually never run anything, though they are competing for the most important leadership role on the planet.

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The Benefits of Custom Software Development

Packaged (off-the-shelf) software vs. a custom software solution — that is the question. Actually it’s not that simple a question anymore. Today there are many hybrid software alternatives, which start with a packaged solution that can be quickly modified to meet the customer’s exacting business requirements.

In the “old days” — remember PC DOS and mainframes — most business software was custom built from scratch due to the lack of availability of flexible industry-specific packaged systems. Yes there were some standard accounting systems, manufacturing systems, HR systems, etc., but in large part business software (particularly for large organizations) was written directly to customer requirements. Software was written in everything from low level machine code (0’s and 1’s), Assembly language, COBOL, BASIC and other “higher” languages. Many companies were rightfully wary of custom solutions due to the difficulty of debugging and supporting these systems, but often had no choice.

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The Risks and Rewards of Utilizing Offshore Technology Services

By | HR Technology | Leave a comment

The availability, skillset, and quality of Information Technology (IT) resources varies greatly from organization to organization. Regardless of company size, IT resources may be readily accessible when needed, or not. And frequently not. Whether HR has a large application development project to manage or merely needs a special one-off data analysis report, more often than not the IT backlog will dictate the timing of the project delivery date. And the nature of IT’s skills will determine the quality of work.

For more business and mission critical projects that simply cannot be delayed, HR must turn to outside vendors, which is generally the best decision anyway. Service providers that specialize in HR usually can deliver a more reliable, robust, scalable, and extensible solution, because that is their specific area of expertise. Not to mention on-time and on-budget delivery is now governed by a contract and not internal priorities. This becomes a cost savings as well when you add in the advantages of SaaS and cloud hosting.

After all, if your home air conditioning system breaks down, most people would call an HVAC technician over a handyman, right? You might pay a little more but the service will invariably be superior.

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Implementing Preventative Measures to Minimize Data Breaches

By | Data Security | Leave a comment

Much has been said (here and in many other articles) about cyber security risks, and the measures LBi Software and other companies are taking to prevent system data breaches. We talk about data encryption at rest, filed level encryption, VPN tunnels, malware/virus protection, intrusion detection services, two factor authentication, secure coding principles and more, but breaches can still happen.

More focus is needed on the most common reasons for breaches and what you, the client, can do to minimize them. Let’s face it; the chances of a hacker cracking the data encryption code that most databases use is roughly equivalent to winning the Powerball lottery. It could happen – after all we saw three lucky winners last week (though it took billions of tickets sold since the last jackpot winner) – but it just isn’t going to happen that way. That is why the Federal Government is currently pressing technology companies to assist in cracking encryption codes used by the bad guys in their communications with other bad guys. Even the Fed cannot crack those codes alone.

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To Purge or Not to Purge (HR Help Desk Data)

By | Compliance | Leave a comment
Purge data

One of the most frequent questions from LBi’s HR Help Desk clients is when to purge and archive older help desk records. Our answer is simple and straight forward — never. Each employee’s complete case history reveals a lot about that employee’s disposition in the company. Changes in productivity, temperament, company loyalty, and more can occur over periods ranging from weeks to months to years. LBi HR Help Desk captures that valuable information. Having that data live and available for analysis presents a tremendous benefit to HR management.

Since individual case records are very small in size (less than 10K plus attachments, if any), the help desk database for a 10,000 employee organization might not even break 3-5 Gigs after a full 5 years in production. Considering the standard LBi hosting configuration includes arrays of 300 Gig drives (and unlimited in the Cloud), that same company could easily store well in excess of 20+ years live data, with no loss of performance.

Often, our prospective clients express concern about data privacy, suggesting that aged records (let’s say case records >5 years old) are better (read safer and more secure) archived outside of the live system, and accessible strictly to limited users. LBi HR Help Desk can accommodate that request, but we ask why. Our hosted systems provide the highest level of data security possible, with layer after layer of security designed to manage the most confidential data. We are HIPAA and SSAE16 Type II certified, Safe Harbor certified, including multiple additional certifications and industry compliances. And user defined security levels provide our clients with the ability to restrict access to data based on your policies and rules.

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The Client / Vendor Business Relationship

Currently I am reading Things That Matter, by conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer. It is a compilation of articles the author has published over the last few decades covering a wide variety of subjects of greatest importance to him, and in his humble opinion, topics that also impact the general public.

The topics range from the personal to the political to the existential. Subjects range from his view of Winston Churchill as the single most important person to humanity in the last 100 years, to how and why the American Kennel Club is attempting (albeit inadvertently) to dumb down the most intelligent of canines, the Border Collie.

This book got me thinking — what are the things that matter most to me? I will save that for my first book. However, I would like to opine on a particular subject near and dear to my heart — and hopefully yours — things that matter in vendor/client relationships. Even if you are not a business person, you cannot avoid daily vendor/client relationships. Think about the coffee you just bought at Starbucks or the gas station attendant that filled up your car.

Some relationships are one-time events but many are not. And in business, vendor relationships are often long term in nature. Whether the vendor is supporting your HRIS system or cleans your office, business relationships typically span a number of years. Knowing that in advance, why is it that occasionally either the vendor OR client will still attempt to take some unfair advantage of the other party – even though animosity can and often will create lasting tensions beginning early in the partnership, yes, partnership? Hidden costs or product misrepresentation are common vendor transgressions. Unpaid invoices and new “scope creep” demands are just a few client offenses.

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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

Is electronic communication reducing quality employee interaction?

We all know pervasive texting among young people has the potential to negatively impact their ability to communicate effectively as adults, right? Kids growing up using emojis, acronyms, short-hand, and plain old poor spelling to converse with their peers will certainly challenge their skills as they “mature”.  What happened to face to face interactions? Or even the basic phone call? After all, you are texting on a cell PHONE!

Sadly, traditional verbal skills are currently under assault thanks to advancements in technology. The more we don’t need to talk directly to each other, the less we will. Why not? Texting gets your point across faster — even with expressions of emotion (via those emojis and “lol”).

How about instant messaging (more used at work and less by the kids)? IM has all but replaced the ubiquitous phone call in many offices. And email? All the better to document in writing the details and nuances of an important conversation. That is certainly true, but rather than summarizing the contents of a call or meeting in a follow-up email, email is it — the gospel.

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Are Company Dress Codes Beneficial for Peak Performance?

Corporate Dress Code

A long time ago (ok, the early 1980’s) the typical dress code for technology sales professionals (my career path) was a 3-piece business suit (the “uniform”) for men (dark blue or gray preferred, plus power tie, please) and blue or black business suite for women. IBM was #1 and their culture set the trend for semi-formal workday dress.

Then a funny thing happened by the late 80’s and early 90’s; thanks to Microsoft, not only was casual dress acceptable, but it was almost required — logo shirts, khakis and all. Somewhere in-between these two distinct time-periods casual Friday was borne. During this “interim” period much debate was focused on the supposed benefits or potential detrimental impact of casual dress in the workplace.

Not coincidentally our presidents during these periods were conservatives Reagan-Bush (1980-1992) and liberal Clinton (1992-2000). You could compare the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) between these two time-periods to determine if one period was more productive than the other (Average $11T annually during the Clinton years and $8.6T during Reagan-Bush), but frankly the GDP has increased steadily almost every year since 1933. So that wouldn’t be a fair statistic. Even when you compare the GDP per capita (I tried this as well), the numbers tell the same story.

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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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Five Powerful but Easy Microsoft Excel Tips for the Novice

Here are a few of my favorite, and often used, Excel features. These selected functions can greatly simplify daily Excel tasks. They are non-technical and easy to remember.

1. Naming ranges

Have you ever gotten lost trying to enter a complex formula, or understood whether it has even been written correctly? Which formula below would be easier to understand?:

  1. =SUM(A5:D5)*SUM(D7:F7)+SUM(Sheet2!C9:C14)
  2. =SUM(Quantity*Cost)+Overhead

The next time you need to reference a range of cells or an individual cell in a formula, just highlight that range or cell and click on the Name Range dropdown box (directly above Cell A1), and type in a descriptive name. Now, when you write the formula use the range name instead of the actual cell range.

Use this feature especially when others need to access and review your Excel sheet. Naming ranges will speed the review and auditing process.

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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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HR System Integration vs. Application Interfaces – A Tutorial

By | HR Technology | Leave a comment

Literally (not virtually) 100% of LBi HR Help Desk clients require connectivity to their internal HR system (or application), and often to other systems as well, such as Payroll, Talent Management, data analytics systems and others. These connections may range from real or near-real time, to hourly, daily, or even less frequently.

Connectivity (we will discuss integration vs. interface shortly) can be one directional or bidirectional, depending on the client requirements. Therefore, it is critical for HR to carefully plan which systems need to be connected, and to what level.

Vendors will primarily use the term “integration” generically when discussing data connectivity; but what is the difference between integration and interface? And why should you care? You should care because different connectivity methods require differing skill sets and timeframes. If your IT staff is short-handed you may run past deadlines and deployment goals, not to mention presenting ongoing support concerns.

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Using Your HR Help Desk to Predict (and Prevent) Employee Defection

prevent employee defection

Many corporate HR departments are enjoying the benefits of a robust HR Help Desk. Critical to HR is the ability to track every employee request or issue, while maintaining a comprehensive permanent record of each and every case. Equally critical is the means to provide consistent and accurate responses, and compliance with company SLA terms. HR Help Desk systems are designed specifically to provide those services and more.

Other systems, such as Talent Management applications, provide tools to ensure the smoothest recruiting, onboarding, training and development possible, as well as managing the full lifecycle of the employee’s tenure with the organization.

So what happens when the unthinkable occurs and an employee decides to leave? Especially a valued employee. While the wheels are already turning rapidly for the employees planned exit, unfortunately “rolling stones gather no moss”, as they say.

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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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SaaS and the Cloud: They’re Different

By | HR Technology | Leave a comment
SaaS and cloud computing are different and do not mean the same thing

Why are cloud computing and SaaS (Software as a Service) so often used interchangeably – incorrectly? Well, clearly, most assume a SaaS offering is in the cloud due to its inherent low cost. But that is not true; a SaaS application could reside on a fixed or virtual server. Likewise, cloud computing should not imply SaaS: any application, including single tenant apps, can be hosted in the cloud.

Vendors and service providers put their own spin on SaaS and the cloud to suit their needs, which makes it even more difficult to understand the differences.

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The Importance of Overseas Travel for College Students

By | Talent Management | Leave a comment

When I was in college way back in the 1970’s it was relatively uncommon for average students to travel abroad, whether privately or through school sponsored programs. Foreign travel came (if at all) after graduation and after enough money was saved for the special trip. Unless you were a foreign exchange student or majored in a subject that necessitated overseas study, there simply weren’t viable opportunities for expensive travel for most kids.

Today, in many colleges and universities, study-abroad programs are highly recommended, and in many cases mandatory for graduation. Even in majors such as fine arts, life sciences, pre-law and others, the best schools recognize the tremendous benefits students receive from direct exposure to other cultures. Most schools that offer these programs subsidize the study abroad costs over and above regular scholarships, grants and loans in order to make it as affordable as possible for students.

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HR Technology: Ensuring Privacy, Security, and Confidentiality

By | Data Security | Leave a comment

Regardless of what software and hosting they use, all HR leaders share one thing in common: They want to be sure their HR applications can deliver three mission-critical objectives — privacy, security, and confidentiality.

In HR case management, here’s how those three important objectives are defined and achieved:

  1. Confidentiality — Cases are accessible depending on their category or type of case and on rules set up by the organization. Confidentiality is meant to protect the case because of its assumed sensitivity or for legal reasons, and also to protect the identity of the employee and others involved. Examples include claims of sexual harassment, employee theft, and complaints about managers.
  2. Privacy — Cases are accessible only by authorized users based on the type of case and, largely, on the desires of the employee. For example, an employee may have a general HR question and want the response to be kept private. HR may not consider the topic one that demands confidentiality. LBi HR HelpDesk ensures privacy between the employee and HR by letting employees determine how they receive their responses during the handling of their case — email, in-person or directly by phone, for example.
  3. Security — Security is all about protecting data and information, and it’s delivered in various ways:
    • LBi HR HelpDesk Enterprise, for example, uses a single-tenant model with hosting on its dedicated server option including a dedicated hardware firewall. In our SaaS multi-tenant model (Pro and ProPlus) the data is stored in separate schemas divided by client so that “records are not co-mingled”.
    • Data is “encrypted at rest” to increase security. Data at rest is any data that’s not moving over a network or temporarily residing in computer memory to be read or updated (an HR case form that an employee has downloaded, for example). Encrypting data at rest requires password-based access if the server is ever unplugged and rebooted — or accessed by an unauthorized user.
    • Key PII (personal identifiable information) data fields such as Social Security Number or Bank Account info are further encrypted at the field level.
    • LBi HR HelpDesk Enterprise hosting offers “intrusion detection” at the server level that’s physically monitored around the clock.
    • The LBi HR HelpDesk application (and all our applications) are designed and developed using the secure coding principles from the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP).

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Faking it on LinkedIn

By | Compliance | Leave a comment

It is common knowledge that social media is a breeding ground for nefarious activities, conducted by all sorts of people with ill intentions. And much of this occurs on Facebook, considering it is the #1 worldwide social media site. Certainly preying on minors and cyber-bullying are two of the top offenses we read about almost daily.

But much less is written about the use of LinkedIn and other professional networks for dishonest, misleading and potentially criminal means. LinkedIn is the go-to social site for business professionals who want to expand their network of colleagues and contacts with similar interests, not to mention posting resumes in hopes of uncovering new and more lucrative job offers. So why would anyone wish to “intrude” on members who are simply seeking to interact with others strictly on a professional basis? And how do the scams work?

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Managing SLA Rules in Large, Global or Multi-regional Companies

By | Compliance | Leave a comment

One of the most important functions of the HR department is to respond to employee issues and requests in a timely manner. Certainly, different case types have different priorities. For instance, a manager dispute would always take precedence over a tuition reimbursement request.

But other factors may also weigh in on Service Level Agreement (SLA) policies. Multi-national or multi-regional organizations may have to contend with differing local laws and regulations. Companies with union employees may have different requirements for non-union employees, or even different unions. Not to mention hourly vs. salaried worker policies.

SLA tracking gets even more complicated when dealing with varying time zones. What does an 8 business hour response time mean to a worker in California when the corporate HR department is in New Jersey? Whose 8 hour day does the SLA refer to? In many cases, this can be cleared up by well written policy and procedure documents. However, it may not be that simple, again when dealing with the likes of unions and government regulations.

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Keeping Confidential HR Data Confidential

At LBi, virtually 100% of the systems we develop and support maintain at least some level of private and confidential employee information. Along with the essentials of Social Security Number, date of birth, home address, etc., our systems may also contain work background information, personal health information and other personally identifiable data as well. Therefore, it goes without saying that our clients require the highest level of data confidentiality possible, since a data breach can be costly and inconvenient at best and financially devastating at worst.

Whether our systems are hosted by LBi or deployed on the client’s internal servers, data protection and security is always the #1 concern. During the project stage, critical questions are asked about the vendor’s security measures as well as the data security processes of the hosting provider — not to mention confidentiality features built into the actual system.

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Summertime in HR

The lazy days of summer are finally here. Time for that long-deserved vacation from work and the daily grind. Whether you are a shop-floor worker, business manager, or a senior executive, summertime is the most popular time of year to “vacate”.

Though most businesses don’t shut down during the summer, business activity often slows down because clients, prospects, vendors, and partners are also heading for the beach, mountains, or wherever their desires take them.

So now is a great time for HR to kick back and enjoy the relaxed pace, right? Yes, but… there are still SLAs to honor, paychecks to get out on time, and other workplace issues to address. Additionally, many employee self-service HR applications are supported on mobile devices, so employees can now engage HR anytime, anywhere, with the expectation that HR is there for them when needed. With staffing levels likely lower during the summer season, HR still maintains the responsibility to support the employee population, whether they are on the job or on leave.

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Determining HR Staff Requirements with HR Help Desk Statistics

hr analytics for staffing

 

Much has been written about finding the optimum ratio of HR staff to employee size. A SHRM Human Capital Benchmarking Study has published a suggested ratio based purely on employee count:

The formula to calculate the ratio would be:

(HR Staff Count / Employee Count) x 100

For instance, a 1500 employee company with 10 HR personnel would have a ratio of 0.67, somewhat below the supposed target staff according to the table above (10/1500 * 100 = .67). In theory, based on the chart, 12 HR personnel would be optimal to manage 1500 employees.

SHRM suggests that not all HR staff should be factored into the count. Generally it is recommended to only include HR professionals who work as generalists, and those in areas such as benefits, compensation, labor relations and organizational effectiveness. Payroll and other specialized roles should not be counted.

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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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Prevent Identity Theft from Happening to Your Small Business

By | Compliance | Leave a comment

Identity theft isn’t just limited to individuals. Businesses are also targets. Identity thieves steal personal information and use it to open accounts and make purchases. Luckily, there are certain things you can do to keep your small business safe.

Regularly Review Your Business Banking Agreements
Business bank accounts fall under the UCC, which states that businesses have less time to report fraud and identity theft than consumers do. Businesses also have more liability when it comes to fraud. Because of this, it’s important that you review your banking agreements. The organization Business ID Theft says you should be aware of your bank’s policies, especially those regarding your business’s liability for fraud.

Develop a Defense Plan
The U.S. Small Business Administration advises small businesses to develop a defense plan to ensure your company’s identity is protected. By designing a detailed plan you can protect your business’s identity as well as put an action plan in place in case your business falls prey to identity theft.

Use Encryption
By encrypting your data you will minimize your chances of having your identity stolen. Employees or outsiders can steal this data. However, according to Lawrence R. Rogers, one of the senior members of the technical team of Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute, encrypted data is similar to shredded paper. The thief may be able to tape all of the little pieces of paper together, but it takes so much time and so many resources the data itself will be useless by the time he is done. …Read More

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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HR Help Desk vs. IT Help Desk – It’s all about the Vendor’s Experience

Much has been written (including by yours truly) about the benefits of an HR specific help desk solution for the HR department, versus repurposed IT or generic CRM systems. Features such as enhanced security and confidentiality, HR specific workflow processes, and HIPAA compliance are well documented and are core requirements of most HR organizations.

In the end, however, isn’t it really more about the vendor’s expertise working with HR than it is about the application features? HR personnel may inherently know what they need in a help desk / case management system, but they cannot necessarily correlate their business needs with the features of a pre-packaged help desk solution. That task is left to the system’s implementation team (aka the vendor).

For instance, HR needs the ability to tag particularly sensitive cases as confidential, viewable and accessible strictly to the case owner.  But most IT-modified systems don’t deal with the concept of confidentiality. What is confidential about a PC error or someone’s telephone not working – common tickets in an IT help desk system.  Can the vendor (and product) handle that requirement appropriately?

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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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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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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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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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Digging for Treasure in the HR Data Mines

We dig, dig, dig, the whole day through
To dig, dig, dig is what we like to do
It ain’t no trick to get rich quick
If you dig, dig, dig with a shovel or a pick

So sang the dwarfs in the 1937 Disney classic, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Sneezy and the guys happily dug every day where “a million diamonds shine.” HR has a very similar opportunity today.

HR leaders can tap into a rich mine of shiny jewels, uncovering wonderful nuggets of revealing data anytime, every day. All HR needs is a fully featured HR case management system — aka an HR help desk — that includes robust metrics, flexible reporting options and a dashboard that yields easy-to-access reports.

In fact, an automated HR help desk is a double-win for HR. First, it contains valuable data that can help HR play a more strategic role in any organization. Then, if you’ve done your homework, your case management system will include the necessary tools to help you turn that data into actionable analytics.

One might say that LBi HR HelpDesk, for example, is a gold mine that comes complete with all the equipment HR needs to dig deep and transform that data into insights that will help drive business decisions.

That, in fact, is exactly what HR is being asked to do a lot more of today. And as with many things in life, the good stuff lies beneath the surface; the most valuable HR data is often not the easiest to capture.

In the words of Naomi Bloom, managing partner at Bloom & Wallace, a consulting firm specializing in the application of HR technology: “When it comes to metrics, the easiest to do are very rarely the most valuable!”

We’re biased, of course. But LBi HR HelpDesk does the heavy lifting for you. It allows HR to efficiently and systematically collect data and evaluate what it means. It helps you get down-to-earth, business-aligned insight to make suggestions for changes in policies and processes to improve productivity and performance.

If you’d like to learn other ways an automated HR help desk can help HR up its game, see our white paper “Five Top HR Challenges and How an Automated HR Case Management Solution Can Beat Them .”

Who knows? You, too, may uncover “a thousand rubies, sometimes more.”

Heigh-ho. Heigh-ho.

Image source: The Ink and Pixel Club

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.

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.

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.

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.