Before the advent of desktop (“personal”) computers, many office workers utilized mainframe (“green screen”) terminals to perform their daily computing duties. There was nowhere to surf outside of a few stark business related menu choices. Interestingly though, some of the most common mainframe systems actually included one or more video games. Some were included with the system’s core programs, while others were written by adventurous in-house software support personnel.
These simple games used rudimentary two-color graphics (green and black), if at all. Many were 100% text based. But they were fun for bored or overworked workers who needed a brief distraction from the day to day drudgery of their jobs.
Then came Apple, IBM and others with their new personal desktop computers supporting full color screens (16 colors at first – billions later). Game programmers took full advantage of this new user interface (UI) and started to create more sophisticated and exciting games. Remember Solitaire, PacMan and Space Invaders?
At first these computers were used in businesses to connect to company mainframes via something called terminal services, essentially making the PC a “dumb terminal”.
Micromanaging, by definition, focuses on the smallest details of the manager’s direct reports’ daily activities. Nothing is too insignificant, too mundane, and even too irrelevant to bypass a micromanager’s wrath.
In some industries this may be a good thing — think heart surgeons or NASA engineers. Missing just one small detail can costs lives. 99% accuracy and completeness may be perfectly fine in one business but can spell disaster in another.
What about businesses where perfection is not mission critical? Is micromanaging necessary and even beneficial in a sales organization, for instance? Sales people have performance quotas and other responsibilities such as record keeping, cold calling, etc. Sales managers’ styles vary greatly from being entirely hands-off (the uber-trusting type) all the way to the hyper-controlling style.
Yes, there is a difference. Reports summarize current and past data. KPIs measure degrees of success based on the comparison of summarized data (actual) to forecast. Analytics are typically used to predict future performance.
In other words:
- Reports (metrics) = what happened
- KPI = why it happened
- Analytics = how can we improve
This is an important distinction for HR, because most HR managers and executives are not necessarily technical. You may be requesting the wrong service from your IT resources, wasting valuable time when timing is critical to HR.
It’s cool, it’s fun, it’s the future. But are we ready for it? Or, more appropriately is AI ready for us?
In case you have never heard the term, AI stands for Artificial Intelligence. Essentially, AI refers to teachable computer software applications, or machine learning. The more you use it the smarter it gets. Apple’s Siri and those new smart speakers are good examples of AI’s practical application. Ask Siri “restaurants” and she not only assumes you are asking for restaurant suggestions, but it assumes you are interested mainly in places near your current location and possibly serving your favorite cuisines.
Chatbots are another good example. Have you ever initiated a chat session online only to realize well into the conversation that you are interacting with a computer “bot”, not a live person? “Hello, my name is Andy. How can I assist”? Andy is in fact…an Android.
IBM’s Watson computer is probably one of the most well-known and comprehensive examples of AI in a real world application. First used in the healthcare industry (not including its debut on the game show Jeopardy) and spreading rapidly into many other markets, Watson is a shining example of AI at its best. A lot of power for IBM’s nearly $2B investment.
HR Admins already know the importance of a robust help desk solution being central to developing a comprehensive shared services program. HR Help Desk manages all employee interactions with HR from onboarding through off-boarding. HR Help Desk uncovers patterns of issues that can impact overall employee performance and productivity, by identifying even subtle warning signs. Ongoing harassment complaints, manager disputes, departmental unrest, and other critical issues come to light in help desk reporting and analytics.
So what is different in the higher education industry? College and university campuses not only support hundreds and even thousands of employees, those employees interact closely with student populations in numbers that far exceed the employee base. Even a small university with just a few thousand employees can have 3-5 times as many students on campus. And those students on work-study are also technically employees of the institution.
Other businesses may engage closely with the public (i.e., the retail sector), but none can compare with higher education when it comes to potential personnel issues and complaints. Students frequently bond with their professors, and professors often develop closer relationships with special needs students or especially higher performing students. The same holds true with students and coaches. If those relationships sour, accusations can occur unexpectedly, and be quite serious in nature. HR must be prepared to intervene immediately to assess the situation and document all of the details and supporting materials in order to minimize the negative impact on the institution.
Many companies require departments to issue RFPs for new business software systems, often when the cost estimate exceeds a certain dollar amount. Unless there are legal requirements that mandate an RFP process, consider these ten reasons why you should research alternative acquisition options.
- With today’s internet, gathering competitive information on products and vendors couldn’t be easier. Why bother with an RFP or RFI if the goal is information gathering?
- Many vendors, as a matter of policy, will not respond to RFPs, believing there is already a preferred vendor in place. Your well-intentioned RFP could inadvertently be excluding qualified vendors.
- RFPs tend to unnecessarily prolong the vendor selection. If you already have a preferred vendor or two, focusing on them will save time and generally produce a quality choice.
- Vendors want your business and will often lie or exaggerate their capabilities in RFP responses. Researching vendors and engaging them 1 on 1 will provide a more honest assessment. It’s easy to lie or stretch the truth in a written RFP response, but much harder to do so when asked face-to-face in a presentation.
- If the ultimate goal of an RFP is to gather competitive quotes from already screened vendors, consider a less formal RFQ. You will save time and generate the same desired result.
- RFP questions are often all over the map, intermingling true requirements, nice-to-haves, and even completely irrelevant questions. Nothing discourages prospective vendors like entire sections where they must respond in the negative. If you must issue an RFP, stick to your known requirements, and consider an RFI instead.
- If you are considering releasing an RFP for a new system, chances are you already have a qualified vendor in mind. Why muddy the waters with several new and often confusing proposals when you already have confidence in your first choice.
- Consider researching and selecting a short list of vendors and go straight for demos, circumventing the Q&A process. RFP decisions are almost always made after the demo. So head straight for the presentation/demo. You will save time, and likely make the same selection.
- In most business software categories, there are usually one or more “safe bets” — older reputable companies with large install bases. You have heard the phrase “No one was ever fired for choosing xxx”. There is a reason they have that level of reputation, so why not make that safe bet?
- If your department has a requirement to issue an RFP for purchase of systems above a certain threshold, consider finding a qualified solution that falls within that cap. Even though a cheaper system may be lacking in some functional areas, they may simply be “good enough”. You may just look like a hero by saving your company time and dollars.
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.
Every employee loves incentives and rewards and they can be part of the tools that help keep engagement with your company. They can come in the form of cash bonuses, salary increases (and/or promotions) or prizes (tangible gifts). Generally, incentives are considered more like the carrot on the stick – achieve management’s stated goals and you receive the gift. Rewards on the other hand may be given ad hoc after an employee performs well above expectations, without any awareness of a potential recognition.
So which method can potentially help management achieve peak performance from their employees? In this blog we will only consider positive awards. Negative incentives (threats of termination or demotion, for example) will be saved for a future blog. And we aren’t talking about traditional holiday bonuses.
Let’s take a look at some of the various incentive options that could trigger an award, and the recommended award types:
Meet stated goals
Not recommended unless the team as a whole is well below plan/quota
Exceed stated goals
Yes – can be ongoing
Raise or bonus
One-off performance contest
Yes – occasional
Bonus or prize
Top producer for a period
Yes – ongoing
Special activity – e.g., best new idea, charity work, etc.
Yes – occasional
Recommends a new hire candidate
Yes – when candidate is hired
Unexpected performance above & beyond
Yes – as one achieves this designation
Bonus or prize
Random lottery game
Yes – occasional
Bonus or prize
How did I select specific award types depending on the activity?:
Permanent, used for rewarding ongoing or longer-term success.
Cash is king. When the achievement is one-time and high-value to the company. Everyone likes cash.
Fun, different, unexpected — when the employee’s special performance doesn’t necessarily impact company performance, and the award impacts general morale.
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?
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
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.
The great majority of new employees are hired for a specific role within the organization. But in many cases new hires (and tenured workers) may be exposed to other functions they were not initially called on to perform. For instance, a payroll clerk may be called upon to handle some related employee benefits tasks. Or a shop floor worker, who has been trained on a particular discrete machining job, may be needed to temporarily substitute for another, absent employee.
Certainly employees, who are multi-faceted and can readily handle new challenges, are a tremendous asset to their employer – and to their own personal career aspirations. However, some employees may relish new responsibilities while others don’t.
Whether a company provides formal, structured training, or encourages learn-as-you-go on-the-job training, unquestionably employee training and education is good for business. But what happens when employees are pulled out of their comfort zone to handle unfamiliar duties? Unfortunately this occurs in companies large and small. “Fire drills” arise at unexpected times (hence the moniker “fire drill”). Unless a company has the ability to hire short-term temps to fill in the resource gaps, the situation quickly becomes “all hands on deck”.
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.
A few weeks ago I wrote an article on the new trend towards open office environments – no walls, no cubicles, and no privacy. The argument towards better collaboration and team spirit may or may not justify this almost draconian office design concept, depending on your point of view. Certainly any drastic change in your office design is going to garner at least mixed reviews and varying levels of acceptance.
In that last blog I suggested as an alternative offering employees the option of telecommuting if their functional role would lend itself to working remotely. Unfortunately not all jobs can be performed from home, but many can, at least occasionally.
So let’s explore the positives and negatives of telecommuting. First, can you check all of these eligibility boxes?:
- Your work substantially is conducted on the phone and/or computer
- Your work is generally conducted outside of the office anyway (i.e., sales or service)
- Home computer work does not violate company security policies
- Face to face meetings with managers and coworkers are infrequent or can be scheduled when you are in the office
- You don’t require access to physical documents (file drawer stuff)
- Management does not tend to micro-manage staff
Or not? There is a current trend in designing new office spaces around a wide open concept, in extreme cases providing seats at long contiguous tables in lieu of individual desks. The days of semi-private cubicles may be numbered. Partitions of any type are becoming scarce in many companies, even for managers and some executives.
In complete contrast, back in the 1980’s when Microsoft moved its corporate headquarters to a brand new campus in Redmond Washington, virtually every employee was provided with a private office — 4 real walls and a door (and a window for the lucky ones). And how did that work out for Microsoft? That’s in the history books.
Now companies like Facebook and others are literally breaking down the physical barriers and counting on greater employee engagement within the organization. In fact, Facebook’s headquarters is the largest open office environment in the world (see picture).
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
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.
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
In my business, responding to RFIs, RFQs and RFPs are a part of my daily work life. If you want to win the business, you must accept these requests as a mandatory function during the sales cycle.
20 years ago, questionnaires focused almost entirely on the business application up for bid; features, functions, bells, whistles, and the like. Technology questions primarily centered around the technology platform – Windows, Solaris, SQL Server, Oracle, web vs. client-server, etc.
In today’s cyber security threat world, IT has essentially commandeered the process, and now RFPs are often heavily weighted on security questions. Frankly, many recent RFPs that have crossed my desk barely touch on the relevant and in-demand application features, in favor of addressing IT Security issues. In a few cases, it has been hard to find the actual application questions buried in one of many Excel tabs (worksheets).
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.
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.
A mentorship is an excellent way to help a new employee learn the basics of your company and its culture. No matter what size your corporation, start by introducing each employee to their mentor at orientation. The employee can then pose questions to the mentor during and after the onboarding process. After the onboarding process is complete, you may be interested in having the mentee shadow, regularly talk with, or be formally trained by the mentor.
The Role of Mentorships in Small and Large Companies
In small companies, mentorships bring together experienced employees and new, often younger employees. The relationship builds the bond between people of different generations and strengthens the connections within the company. It also allows operations to proceed more smoothly. In large companies, mentorships train new individuals who would otherwise get lost in the crowd. The mentor becomes the “go-to” person for the new employee, who might not know how to approach higher-ups and may not understand complex hierarchies. In both small and large companies, the mentor acts as a resource for the new employee. The mentor remains a stable, helpful guide who anchors them in place and makes them feel at home.
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.
Labor demographics are changing rapidly, and as a generation, Millennials now make up the largest percentage of the workforce. As a result, this group has a strong influence on management practices. Smart employers are adapting to new ways of doing business in order to stay competitive. Those that choose to stick with traditional methods of attracting and retaining workers are quickly becoming obsolete, because they haven’t recognized that Millennials want much more than a simple raise in pay.
Flexibility: Work/Life Balance Isn’t Enough
To attract Millennials looking for their next job, it’s not enough to tout “work/life balance.” With today’s technology, most employees have accepted that they are always available by phone and email. Millennials are comfortable with a BYOD (bring your own device) culture, and they prefer video chat, instant messaging and texting to in-person communication.
Instead of work/life balance, Millennials want assurance that they will have flexibility in where, when and how they get their work done. Some are calling this “work/life blend,” in which employees are free to take a few hours for a child’s soccer game in the middle of the afternoon, with the understanding that they will catch up after the kids are in bed.
Most businesses grossly underestimate the true cost of turnover, and they pay the price when they allow strategic engagement and retention planning to fall by the wayside. Such initiatives are more than just good public relations. They create a culture in which employees stay with the company longer, are more productive at work and provide the priceless word-of-mouth and social media advertising that creates a high-quality employer brand.
Who Are Today’s Job Seekers and Why Are They Jumping Ship?
In a survey of more than 5,000 job seekers and 2,000 hiring managers, CareerBuilder’s 2015 Candidate Behavior Study made a startling discovery. Three out of four employees are open to or actively seeking a new position. While not all are sending out resumes during their time away from work, this figure represents the full extent of the population in danger of being wooed away by friendly recruiters looking for top talent through social media.
The study explored the impetus behind employees’ increasing willingness to take new positions. While the reasons vary from frustration with limited development opportunities to dissatisfaction with compensation and benefits, the underlying theme is low engagement. Employers are simply not offering the type of work environment and company culture that inspires staff members to stay.
Most businesses today don’t think twice about communicating internally via email with employees. Though much attention is given these days to the consequences from a legal standpoint of deleting and archiving email records, little thought is given to the ramifications of email content that seemingly has nothing to do with risks to business operations.
Emails that suggest inappropriate or even possible illegal activity are often quietly scrubbed. Emails to HR, which may include HIPAA or other confidential information, are virtually ignored from a legal standpoint.
Which is the higher risk to an organization? Exposure of potentially nefarious business activity or a HIPAA violation? Well that depends. How does a $1.5M penalty plus prison time for a serious HIPAA violation sound?
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).
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.
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.
Many of today’s businesses have multiple sites around the country and around the world, and telecommuting employees are less uncommon than before. Technology designed to bring employees together despite their geography isn’t new; however, the growing trend towards employing remote staff members has organizations looking at this technology in a new way. Tools that were once too costly to share with employees working from home offices are now more affordable, making it easier to connect remote workers and increase their engagement, regardless of physical location. Employers have more options now than ever to bring their virtual workers closer to the business.
Creating Personal and Professional Relationships
One of the primary drivers of employee engagement is the personal and professional relationships between team members. Frequent communication and time spent face-to-face builds trust, making teams far more effective. However, remote employees find developing these relationships challenging, as their primary method of communication is through email and instant message. In fact, one study determined that a full 81 percent of virtual employees consider development of rapport and trust within a virtual team the number one work related concern.
Fortunately, travel is no longer required for face-to-face meetings. Video conferencing technology is now so economical that businesses can offer the option to all remote employees without incurring significant expenses. Staff members find they can fully participate in relationship building with colleagues through daily use of video conferencing applications, and they are comfortable with the technology because it is now an everyday form of communication between family and friends.
Adding a Personal Touch
Increased use of inexpensive video conferencing, instant messaging and other forms of communication are proven relationship builders, but they can’t entirely replace the personal touch. Consider organizing regular in-person meetings, first when the team is formed, and then at least once a year. Spending several days together gives virtual colleagues an opportunity to develop solid personal relationships through informal interactions, which facilitates effective collaboration through virtual channels later. …Read More
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
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.
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.
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.
Encouraging employees to continue their education can increase your company’s profits, improve productivity and create more committed employees. Spending around $680 on education and training per employee returns an annual investment of around 6 percent, according to a study from the Association for Talent Development. Give your employees the tools they need to succeed by helping them choose the best options for their education. Here’s how to get started.
Create an employee action plan
Before talking with employees about their education goals, determine what type of support the company will offer. Consider implementing a tuition reimbursement program, paying for books or supporting specific degrees or areas of interest. Businesses that can’t afford a tuition reimbursement program but still want to support their employees’ education can offer a flexible schedule for classes and study time.
Next, sit down with your employees individually and figure out an education action plan that benefits both the company and them. Ask your employee to draft up a proposal of what type of courses or degrees would benefit their career and how they expect it to fold into their day-to-day responsibilities while helping them grow professionally. Create guidelines for how time away from work will be handled and whether employees must pay back fees if they stop taking classes.
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.
If your employees seem unmotivated, they might be in a slump. Only 30 percent of workers in America are actively engaged in their jobs, according to a recent Gallup survey. The decline in employee engagement reportedly began in 2008 during the Great Recession, when job security and unpredictability were at the forefront of concern and positive attitudes plummeted.
Today, human resources departments understand more than ever that rewards and recognition can play a key role in helping businesses increase productivity and create an overall happier workplace.
Reclaim your workforce by implementing an innovative rewards program that includes compensation, gifting, recognition, and perks. Here are a few ways to get started!
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.
Keeping top talent has become an increasing concern for HR, and it’s a challenge that’s expected to get more difficult, according to SHRM and others. Yet all too often, it’s only after the fact — during the exit interview and maybe not even then — that managers learn why departing employees are disgruntled.
“The only time the average manager thinks about retention is when she or he receives a resignation from an employee,” say B. Lynn Ware and Bruce Fern in their research report “The Challenge of Retaining Top Talent: The Workforce Attrition Crisis.” “We also found that most managers predictably attempt to talk departing employees out of leaving, trying to convince them that they are making a mistake.”
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 HR HelpDesk is the HR Case Management solution for you.
Designed explicitly for HR, and fully capable in virtually any industry, LBi’s HR HelpDesk covers every common client feature request. 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.
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?
One of the key imperatives from the C-suite for HR this year, according to the CEB’s Leadership Council Research, is to increase the influence of HR data in the enterprise organization.
In fact, developing and applying measurement strategies that “ensure efficiency, effectiveness, and business alignment” is among the 10 best practices of “high-impact HR organizations,” according to research from Bersin by Deloitte.
Yet only 8 percent of senior HR leaders “believe they are getting returns on their talent analytics investments, and only 15 percent of business leaders have changed a decision in the past year as a result of data from HR,” according to the CEB report.
It’s a sad irony, considering the mountain of people data at HR’s fingertips.
Over the last decade, HR has gradually evolved from being a provider of administrative services into a service organization. HR today provides greater value for the business and delivers a breadth of automated people functions. As a result, HR technology, HR data systems, and HR resources are all now tasked with delivering valuable services for the entire enterprise organization.
HR no longer merely provides benefits administration. HR today is tasked with helping drive strategy, burnish the company brand, influence retention and recruiting, identify workplace trends, and more. For example, research from The Hackett Group, a global strategic business advisory and operations improvement consulting firm, found in 2013 that HR leaders were focusing on strategies for “process improvement, including cost reduction and standardization of processes, data, technology, and organizational culture; improving the effectiveness of talent management; obtaining more value from data to enable better decisions; and expanding the use of technology.”
The expectations of HR continue to grow — to be more of a strategic player in the organization as well as to provide increasingly user-friendly services to employees. HR could use a little HR help from some friends.
Among those friends is an automated HR case management system, built specifically for HR departments to improve HR service delivery and provide HR self-service. This kind of solution can be just the kind of HR help that HR needs today.
First, however, you want to make sure your HR case management solution is designed specifically for HR departments. A system built for IT’s needs and repurposed for HR will fall short of the mark in several ways. You can read more about why that is in our blog post “HR Delivery Excellence Demands HR-dedicated Case Management: True Temper Tools Would Agree” and dig even deeper into the topic in our white paper “Case Management: The Backbone of Excellence in HR Service Delivery.”
A centralized and automated HR case management system can be a huge asset in managing talent better for companies of any size — even overcoming the shortcomings of many larger and more comprehensive HR technology, information, and talent management systems.
Consider, for example, how an HR help desk can solve the challenge of gathering and maintaining critical employee information in a single location rather than having it spread across disparate databases and in paper files. In fact, there being a central, secure repository of data and records — without replacing current and separate systems — is one of the significant advantages of an HR case management system.
When an HR help desk or case management system is incorporated into a comprehensive talent management strategy, any organization can take advantage of full life-cycle support for employees, ultimately contributing to measurable performance gains. The best HR case management systems, like LBi HR HelpDesk, are designed to work seamlessly with a company’s HRIS software as well as their leading talent management applications.
Unified HR case management overcomes the potentially costly and time-consuming challenge of having critical employee information spread across disjointed databases and traditional paper files. …Read More
The importance of efficient, accessible employee self-service portals and HR self-service systems continues to grow — especially with the continuing influence of several key trends in workplace behavior and expectations, as well as in personal lifestyles.
Among the most significant of those trends driving the demand for more sophisticated employee self-service applications are:
- Greater need for flexible work hours
- Growing acceptance of remote working options
- Increased use of SaaS-based applications and programs, as well as other types of cloud-based HR solutions
- The boom in tablet- and smartphone-based platforms for workplace systems
- The continuing tsunami of “mobile everything, everywhere” communication
Flexible working hours
The continued expansion of businesses across time zones and into international markets is also driving a greater need for flexible working options in every area of the organization. In response, HR technology needs to play a major role in keeping remote employees engaged. A compelling employee self-service portal empowers employees, boosts engagement, and saves HR immense amounts of time. …Read More
Sometimes the derivation of a word describes it perfectly. Wiki is one of those words. It’s from “wikiwiki,” the Hawaiian word for “quick.” And if a human resources wiki does anything at all, it makes quick work of updating and distributing relevant knowledge across the entire scope of HR topics, vastly improving HR self-service.
Yet many people in HR don’t fully understand wikis and wiki knowledge bases, or the power of wikis to save time (for HR and employees), reduce administrative headaches and oversights, and heighten employee engagement. How? By ensuring that people can get the most current information they need when they need it — and know the information is accurate.
Have you ever noticed that you feel different when surrounded by nature or when there are plants nearby? New research conducted by the University of Exeter shows that employees are happier and up to 15 percent more productive in work environments with plants than in environments without any greenery.
Green Is Good for Productivity
Academics from the University of Exeter, the University of Queensland, Australia, and the University of Groningen in the Netherlands carried out a long-term experiment comparing employees in two large commercial offices in the UK and the Netherlands. They monitored one office with plants and one without plants and measured employees’ perceptions of air quality, workplace satisfaction, concentration and productivity levels. The results show significant increases in all three areas of employee perception in the work environment with plants and a 15 percent increase in productivity. Researchers believe that the plants help employees to be more physically, cognitively and emotionally involved in their work.
Contrary to common wisdom, the benefits of an HR call center are not limited to enterprise-level organizations. The value of being able to help employees easily access HR information and get answers to their questions can also benefit smaller businesses by reducing stress on HR administrators and yielding crucial call-tracking data.
For starters, an HR call center is a valuable HR resource that frees administrators to focus on more demanding tasks. As an HR data system, a call center can provide meaningful information such as the frequency of employee calls regarding specific HR topics and the number of calls needed to resolve cases.
With this kind of HR data, HR leaders in organizations of any size get greater insight into how policies and benefits are being communicated. You can determine where messages and communication to employees need to be improved, and where call center processes could use some tweaking.
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.
The benefits of the cloud for HR technology are unassailable. It makes the adoption of robust, complex programs and systems affordable and scalable. Unlike legacy systems that run on your organization’s own servers, cloud-based solutions don’t require you to buy any hardware; all system maintenance, updates, and support are part of the package, and they’re usually paid for on a subscription or fee-for-use basis. Cloud-based solutions are also often designed with layers of features and complexity built in — behind the curtain, so to speak — so you can change your configuration and add more users with the flip of a switch.
There are some office configurations that are simply more conducive to productivity than others. A 2013 survey of 42,000 office workers by the University of Sydney found that open-plan spaces — those that have employees seated in large spaces without walls separating them — lower office productivity and morale. Researchers concluded the lack of privacy, personal space and perpetual noise were the biggest factors in lowering productivity.
These results contradicted the industry-accepted idea of open-plan spaces benefiting work environments. They also showed that the layout of your office can make all the difference between a distracted staff and one that is content and comfortable, and thus productive. Here are three additional ideas to help create an environment that boosts morale and subsequently, productivity. …Read More
Guests at our HR Tech booth had fun playing Plinko for a guaranteed prize (vibration speakers, ear buds, USBs, water bottles…) and a chance at four Chromebooks and four Kindles.
The hottest prize at the booth was the vibration speaker — a cool gadget that magnifies the sound of your smartphone via vibration (no bluetooth); we had a lot of fun giving those demonstrations.
Our booth theme was HR HelpDesk Rated “E” for Everyone – HR HelpDesk, our innovative Case Management software, comes in four versions for organizations of varying sizes.
The E also stands for:
- Employee Engagement
- Efficient Case Management
- Easy Sign up – no credit card required for free trials
- Encompassing Pricing
- And any other “E” word our marketing people could come up with.
We also generated some buzz on twitter at #EforEveryone.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Wikipedia describes at-will employment laws as follows:
“At-will employment is a term used in U.S. labor law for contractual relationships in which an employee can be dismissed by an employer for any reason (that is, without having to establish “just cause” for termination), and without warning…[and] an employee may be similarly entitled to leave his or her job without reason or warning.”
Like many well-meaning HR policies, at-will laws in practice may be a double edged sword. On the surface at-will regulations appear to be beneficial for the employer and employee, though with some negative implications.
An employee can quit with no advanced notice, freeing the departing worker to “jump ship” Friday afternoon ready for the next new career move the following Monday without skipping a beat professionally. After all, it is the employer’s prerogative to immediately dismiss the resigning employee whether or not they offered the traditional two week notice. If this were to occur, the employee could potentially have a costly time gap between the old and new job. So why provide any notice at all?
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.
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.
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).
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.
LBi Software is pleased to announce that it has completed an expansion of its headquarters to over 10,000 square feet at 7600 Jericho Turnpike in Woodbury, NY. LBI Software also recently reached the 50 employee mark. In the last 18 months LBi has grown by over 30%! This expansion is to support the upcoming new offering of our flagship solution LBi HR HelpDesk.
The office expansion included new offices, new workstations to support 3 monitors per developer, meeting rooms, video games and a Ping Pong table.
View the slideshow:
Discover how Human Resources Help Desk analytics can transform your organization. On June 3rd LBi Software will host a webinar demonstrating the power of HR Help Desk Analytics and Big Data.
The benefits of implementing an HR Help Desk and Employee Self Service Knowledge Base solution are many, including fewer calls into HR, consistent adherence to corporate business policies, greater employee satisfaction, and more.
However, a robust, well-designed and mature solution can provide even greater value through powerful analytics.
Before starting down the path of developing an RFP, it’s crucial to understand the ultimate goal of the journey. Not all RFPs are released with the objective of finding the best and most robust HR case management solution for a company’s needs. Other business goals for an RFP include:
- Finding the lowest-cost solution to meet the most nominal requirements
- Surveying the marketplace and gathering information for a future purchase
- Collecting ideas and information for building a system in-house
If the above is your reason for considering the RFP process, then please don’t.
A 2001 Gallup poll found that Americans who are obese or have chronic health problems cost their employers an estimated $153 billion per year in lost productivity. As the prevalence of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and other chronic health conditions continued to rise from 1999 to 2010 (and beyond), employers are looking for ways to keep their employees physically fit. The best employee wellness initiatives are those that motivate without harming morale.
Promoting Healthy Body Weight
Obese and overweight individuals are more likely to take sick days, require more doctor visits and experience difficulty performing efficiently at work, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An effective strategy to encourage weight management is to have a friendly interoffice competition. For example, departments might compete against one another to see which can log the most exercise minutes, steps walked per day or pounds lost (following a group weigh-in, so as not to put pressure on an individual). Tying performance to monthly rewards such as an office party, financial benefit, or flex time is a great way to increase motivation.
We live and conduct business in an increasingly litigious society. We all know that. At the same time, businesses are increasingly in the crosshairs of various state and federal agencies responsible for enforcing everything from fair hiring practices to safety in the workplace.
An HR help desk is the antithesis of the old way of responding to government audits and legal action. Then, managers and administrators had to almost manually piece together disconnected sources and chains of communication related to a grievance – emails, phone messages, printed forms and other sources.
An automated HR help desk, by comparison, offers an audit trail for every case, including all of its related documents and communications. A quality system also has the level of security to ensure privacy and confidentiality in the HR environment.
Whether 2013 was your most successful year yet or one you would like to forget, it should be seen as a learning opportunity for 2014. As a small business owner and captain of your own ship, it’s natural to make mistakes, but with the right tools, you can easily avoid common pitfalls and blunders like sloppy record keeping and spending too much time on social media.
1. Filing Messy Last Minute Taxes
If your 2013 taxes are proving to be complicated and cumbersome because you left everything to the last minute, take a few steps to make tax time easier in 2014. Third party Payroll Services organize all of your payroll records throughout the year. Instead of slogging through a year’s worth of records and manually transferring numbers, just click a few times, and your payroll software will download the relevant numbers and forms to your tax software.
Combine a program like this with an organizational app like Shoeboxed, which allows you to easily file receipts and track expenses. This app ensures that you never miss a write-off, and it has the power to effectively lower your tax burden. With the right tools in place, filing taxes in April 2015 should be a breeze.
The benefits of implementing an HR Help Desk and Employee Self Service Knowledge Base solution are many, including fewer calls into HR, consistent adherence to corporate policies, greater employee satisfaction, and many more. However, a robust, well-designed and mature solution can provide even greater value through powerful analytics that use key performance indicators. Key performance indicators, or KPI’s, define factors HR needs to benchmark and monitor.
Traditional HR systems do not track patterns of employee morale issues, the impact of personnel disputes on overall performance, management style inconsistencies, and other, often subliminal, employee related problems that can negatively affect corporate productivity.
The percentage of employees that are contingent is quickly growing. Currently 18% of the total work force is contingent. Some are predicting this to rise to 50% of the Fortune 500 workforce! HR software and HR software vendors must be prepared to support this growing contingent workforce. Furthermore, this contingent workforce needs to be just as engaged as traditional full-time employees. We need to get the most from our employees whether they are permanent or contingent.
Contingent workers are not permanent employees and they know it. Depending on their contract or agreement with the firm, continued employment is always in question, as is the ability to move to a higher, more permanent position.
A contingent workforce may provide many benefits to the organization, such as helping to fill temporarily needed positions during uncertain times of unpredictable growth. But once those workers are in place they need to be properly managed. It is critical to understand that the disposition of contract workers is much different than the attitudes of regular full-time employees. Are they loyal to the company? Can they be trusted with confidential information? Are they at least as productive as regular workers?
Today’s business systems create mountains of data. HR systems are no exception. Nor is the HR organization immune from leadership’s growing demand to mine that data and transform it into analytics that can help drive business decisions.
In his May 2011 review of a weeklong conference, Impact 2011: Building the Borderless Workplace, Josh Bersin wrote, “I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the focus on HR measurement, metrics and analytics throughout the conference.”
In fact, developing and applying measurement strategies that “ensure efficiency, effectiveness and business alignment” is among the 10 best practices of “high-impact HR organizations,” according to research by Bersin & Associates (now Bersin by Deloitte). These HR organizations provide data that illustrates “clear connections between the efforts of both the HR function and individual people.”
The features of an automated HR Case Management System – from resolving cases faster and easier, to empowering self-service – can help create and heighten employee engagement.
For example, an HR case management system designed to serve HR keeps a record, instantly available, of every employee transaction. With just a couple of clicks, an HR team member has access to the entire history of a case. The employee doesn’t need to restart the process if he or she needs to follow up on a case. It’s obviously more efficient for HR, and it’s also an effective tool for heightening employee engagement. It shows employees that the company cares enough to handle their concerns quickly and knowledgeably – it brings consumer-like service to the world of HR.
It’s true that an HR case management solution is only one piece of a comprehensive HRIS solution. HR case management lives under the big umbrella of software solutions that help streamline the whole spectrum of HR management system functions, from benefits administration, to time and attendance, to performance reviews and succession planning.
Yet all of the pieces within an HRIS share two overarching goals: to help HR professionals manage their workforce more efficiently and to empower employees. Just as with a full-platform HR management system (HRMS), you also want an HR case management solution that will increase HR productivity by automating administrative processes and supporting HR on a strategic level.
Help Desk systems have become mainstream solutions in virtually every aspect of business operations, including Customer Support, Salesforce Automation, IT Support, HR Support, and more. Though there are many similarities in these applications, it is a keen understanding of the inherent differences that can make or break a successful deployment. Selecting a product that falls short of expectations in just one or two key areas can lead to time delays, as well as wasted (and potentially very costly) financial and personnel investment.
Never has this been truer than in selection and deployment of a new HR system, particularly HR Help Desk. For instance, a lack of privacy features in the help desk system can breach confidentiality agreements, potentially risking expensive and time consuming legal actions.
A well designed HR system, built explicitly for HR, will plug all of the security holes that may exist in some non-HR centric applications. We invite you to take this simple test below and score your current system against the best solutions, such as LBi HR Help Desk 5.0.
Give yourself 5 points for every question you can unequivocally answer “Yes”.
Recent research from British law firm EMW paints a distressing picture of employee data theft. EMW found that cloud computing makes it easier for employees to take enterprise data when they leave, and that court cases over theft of business information increased 56 percent from 2011 to 2012. Adopting “bring your own device”, or BYOD, in your business can leave you vulnerable to employee data theft when staff move on. Accept this, then take steps to minimize your risk.
What’s at Stake if an Employee Walks
When an employee leaves, he carries with him knowledge of your products, services and workflow. Employee laptops and phones will have enterprise and client emails, strategic information, work documents and other data. Since employees may leave for a variety of reasons, every policy should take this into account. Employees who transfer to another office or take a medical leave may need to keep business information, while those who resign, are laid off, or are fired should not keep data.
Recently I closed one of the biggest contracts of my career. The last key piece that sold it was “our employees”. During one of the sales meetings the prospect’s CFO said something profound – “after all, it is not so much about choosing Company A over Company B as it is with being comfortable with the people from Company A”. The CFO liked the team that presented the solution but he wanted to be assured that the team that will execute it was just as good. So I sent him the name and bio of everyone who would be assigned to the project. We then followed that up with an in-person presentation of all the team members. The next day we got the contract.
Phone, email, text, instant message (IM), in person? Unfortunately, many younger workers have grown up in a world where face-to-face (or even phone) communications are not deemed necessary in order to interact effectively with others. The nuances of verbal communications have given way to graphical emoticons and cryptic acronyms. Why bother interpreting visual or audible cues when there is a Smiley face for that?
Have we forgotten about the importance of body language and vocal inflections? In the animal kingdom virtually all creatures converse, not with the written word, but rather by sight and sound. And they apparently are quite successful at it. If sophisticated communications within species through visual and audible means is the product of millions of years of evolution, what does that say about humans and texting? Is this really the next phase in our evolution… or not?
Almost every organization has a formal, written Mission Statement. These statements have at least two primary purposes — to clearly state long-term corporate goals, and to generally set the guiding principles by which employees conduct themselves internally and with their customers.
Mission Statements are top-down mandates that every employee must follow in their daily professional lives. Often it is the responsibility of HR and middle management to monitor (formally or otherwise) their employees to ensure adherence to corporate policies, including those broad principles detailed in the Mission Statement. So how can “the mission” be efficiently monitored day to day, week to week, and beyond, particularly in larger organizations?
This past summer three of my favorite TV shows ended: Breaking Bad, Dexter, and Burn Notice. Each one was very successful yet only one remained on top until the very end. Why is that? Did the others lose their way or just ride out the series like a cash cow?
As far as the reasons behind the failures of Dexter and Burn Notice, they are a matter of personal opinion. Dexter clearly had jumped the shark and, given the series plot, it got less real with each additional microscope slide. As for Burn Notice, in my opinion, it tried to be like the competition and turned from a fun campy A-Team-like show to a lame spy thriller.
“The right tool for the right job.”
That’s been the advertising slogan for True Temper tools since at least 1907, when the Cleveland-based company was called American Fork & Hoe. The catchphrase is just as true today as it was then, and not only when it comes to forks and hoes.
Without the right technology for the right job, it’s highly unlikely any mission will achieve its optimal outcome. Sure, the job might get done. But at what cost? What will be left out or left behind? How much better could the job have been done with the right tools – with the benefit of software and a system, for example, uniquely designed to accomplish that particular job?
Guests at LBi Software’s HR Tech booth participated in a game to try to solve the puzzle of HR Technology:
Each player would add a piece to the puzzle and try to guess the message. The first correct puzzle guess won a Microsoft Surface and each correct guess after that was put in a drawing for a second Microsoft Surface. Participants would also win a prize for just playing: Kindles, iPod Nanos, ear buds, Amazon gift cards, 8GB flash drives and water bottles.
The use of HR technology to heighten employee engagement is still evolving. In some respects – and despite so much that’s been written about it – applying the features of HR and HCM technology to boost employee engagement is still in its infancy. But in other regards, the trend is already starting to become passé.
The practice of tapping into existing legacy HCM systems to drive employee engagement will soon be outdated. Here’s how Brandon Hall Group and The Starr Conspiracy put it in their recent white paper, The Future of HCM: 7 Trends That Every HCM Provider Needs to Know: “There’s one certainty within this uncertainty. These legacy HCM systems will all eventually go away forever. HCM players have taken novel steps to hasten the progress of this slow death.”
It was no surprise to us that our webinar “Leveraging HR Technology to Meet Real-world Challenges” brought some great, real ideas to the table.
We brought in HR thought leader Robin Schooling to talk about these ideas because she’s been there. She’s had to bridge that disconnect between where an HR technology solution may end and where the real solution begins. With LBi Software President Richard Teed, we heard someone with decades of experience in the HR technology industry talk about the challenges of meeting the needs of HR pros. Lastly, the guidance and moderation of Laurie Ruettimann helped balance the two perspectives to give some powerful insights.
As with every other aspect of human capital management today, success increasingly depends on engaging employees. And that means HR must give employees consumer-like online experiences in their work life as much as possible.
Why? Two overarching reasons:
- HR has gradually and increasingly taken a page from marketing’s playbook. Savvy HR leaders today know the value of actively soliciting feedback about – and keeping abreast of – employees’ needs, wants, preferences, and concerns; developing relevant and actionable data from that knowledge; and responding accordingly.
- Also like their colleagues in marketing, forward-thinking HR leaders are aware of – and responding to – the shifts in employee demographics, social networking, mobile computing and connectivity, and online consumerism. Just like consumers, employees want increasingly to be informed, connected, and empowered.
HR technology that supports this trend – while balancing it all with privacy and security – fosters a more engaged, more productive workforce. An HR case management system that features an engaging employee portal, an accessible user interface, and unconditional security offers one big step toward treating employees as consumers. The results: a more engaged and more productive workforce.
Let’s face it. HR technology today is so powerful, so robust, and so omnipresent – not to mention so dressed out with bells, whistles, and data-generating gewgaws – that it’s easy to forget what HR’s most important role is every day: solving people problems.
We recently published an e-book, Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Applying HR Technology to Solve Real-world Problems, because we’re concerned about what we see as a gap between the promises of HR technology and the everyday reality that HR leaders face at ground zero.
HR professional, author, and speaker Robin Schooling was among those who contributed to Where the Rubber Meets the Road, and we’re excited that she’s continuing the conversation with us. Robin will join LBi President Richard Teed on July 24 for a one-hour webinar, “Leveraging HR Technology to Meet Real-world Challenges.”
Myth: Data security is a highly technical and esoteric undertaking that is solely the responsibility of an enterprise organization’s IT department.
Fact: Data security is an increasingly significant concern and function of many stakeholders, including HR.
HR is both a huge generator and an enormous consumer of sensitive information about employees and the company.
The kinds of information HR generates and stores have expanded rapidly in the last decade or two. So have the storage capabilities and amount of data HR is responsible for creating and archiving. It wasn’t so long ago that most of the communication between HR and employees or leadership was spoken, handwritten, or typed onto paper. In addition, it was either never retained or was saved only until the schedule called for it to be shredded or tossed out to make more room in the filing cabinets and storage rooms for newer documents.
In Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, one fellow asks another: “How did you go bankrupt?” The man answers, “Gradually, and then suddenly.”
The same could be said of many of the most volatile, hot-potato situations you face as an HR leader. Even flare-ups that appear to come out of the blue — a breach of company policy that puts the organization’s brand at risk, a seemingly sudden lack of productivity in one sales department — are really just the straws that broke the camel’s back.