Relieving the HR burden

With a barrage of recent changes to employee legislation, from maternity rights to age discrimination, employers could be forgiven for feeling a bit swamped by HR issues.

The wide umbrella of HR covers such a range of tasks and topics that attempting to manage these processes and information inevitably generates a job in itself.

Software companies are clamouring to offer bespoke and off-the-shelf “solutions”, which effectively means that they can make your HR manager’s life a lot easier by providing a tool that will do the dirty work.

Charles Candy, new business sales executive at HR software firm Snowdrop, says there are still organisations floundering amid a sea of personnel paperwork. ‘You can end up with hundreds of files in virtual disarray, which can become very complicated to manage,’ he explains. ‘Using a piece of software that can organise things for you means that the time spent on administration is drastically reduced and your HR team can spend their time working strategically.’

Real business

Time saved looking for and collating information means more time for HR to concentrate on areas like team building or analysing staff data. ‘You can use the software to assess the amount of staff sick days that are being taken or to identify patterns in absenteeism, which enables you to quantify the costs to your business and act accordingly,’ adds Candy.

Helen Whitty, HR manager at solicitor Spratt Endicott, agrees. The company went through just such a process of automation through software after demerging from another solicitor in 2002. ‘If you wear many different hats like I do, it is so useful to have everything in front of you at the click of a mouse. It saves an awful lot of time, and as a result has saved us money,’ she says.

Get the right people

The benefits for recruitment are numerous. Tim Richards, managing director at HR software firm Bond International, explains that you can add functionality to your company website and reduce your workload in the process. He explains, ‘When an applicant goes on to the site, they encounter a list of ‘killer questions’ – filters that can weed out unsuitable candidates at the first step.

‘You can track applications throughout the entire process rather than using a complicated spreadsheet, generate acceptance or rejection letters automatically and store information about current staff and job candidates – with their permission – in case a suitable position becomes available later on. That central pool of data can save you money and improve your recruitment procedures greatly, which obviously helps the business as a whole.’

Going green

With all of these processes happening automatically and, moreover, electronically, you can save money on printing documents and reduce the administrative burden. As Emma Soper, personnel manager at the Eden Project, points out, ‘Being able to generate electronic documents automatically means that they can all be emailed to the relevant recipient. It’s a great benefit environmentally as well as financially.

‘Previously we had a huge database and it was so unreliable. You couldn’t find anything and documents would disappear for no good reason. With our current system, we enjoy massive time savings and can soon fill up that time with more productive tasks.’

Marc Barber

Marc Barber

Marc was editor of GrowthBusiness from 2006 to 2010. He specialised in writing about entrepreneurs, private equity and venture capital, mid-market M&A, small caps and high-growth businesses.