There’s a reason why in the US 70% of large firms now use HR information systems, 80% conduct online recruiting, and 40% use web-based portals as a means of communicating company policies and practices.
This is because over the last couple of years, Human Resource Practitioners have been under increased pressure to save money, be more efficient, automate as much as possible and on top of this to still fulfill a strategic role.
In South Africa, however, with some of the world’s most advanced labour law, the role of HR- especially in small businesses – is aggravated further. These small businesses have to move beyond just having personnel files to becoming more strategic in the fight for scarce talent while juggling affirmative action and financial goals too!
To do all of this manually would become a nightmare (if not impossible!) and that’s where automated HR management systems step in.
An automated HR management system describes a specific software application that can assist line managers (and relieve HR officers/managers) in most, if not all – depending on the product purchased – HR functions. Examples would include training administration which enables line managers to schedule and record training interventions without filling in written documentation or conferring with the HR department about applicable procedures.
Another example includes the administration of the performance management process by storing electronic appraisal documentation and alerting managers and employees to critical appraisal tasks that need to be completed all the while \ automatically generating the supporting paperwork needed at each stage.
A further advantage of using an automated HR service would be the peace of mind acquired knowing that your line managers are implementing discipline exactly how they are supposed to: fairly and in line with relevant legislation/case law.
All that would be required is for the line manager to trigger a disciplinary process, and from then on the system will guide the manager step-by-step through all the essential tasks, paperwork and consultations. Thus, expensive training courses in HR/Industrial Relations for all your managers becomes redundant as managers are in essence carried through the procedure.
An overlooked spin off of an application like this would include lessening the likelihood of a dismissal being considered procedurally unfair when scrutinized by a commissioner at the CCMA.
As if all the above is not convincing enough, the last benefit worthy of mention is that of what has been coined ‘Employee Self-Service’.
Did you know that according to a recent study in the US, five out of every eight hours in an HR professional’s day is spent completing administrative work? This wastage of HR’s time could be reduced by enabling employees to administer their own benefits, requesting time off, requesting study loans, changing personal details etc.
In the end it all comes down to the bottom line and during this period of slow economic growth HR has to prove – now more than ever – that its systems are an investment that will pay off, and not just an additional cost.
Top management needs to consider the time factor involved in manipulating data and handling various HR transactions without an automated HR management system when considering the purchase of an automated HR management system, as well as the contribution that efficient, accurate information can make to strategy development.
In South Africa’s unique legislative environment, companies have developed HR management systems specifically designed for the intricate processes required at all levels within organisations, using the latest in cloud-based technology. It would therefore be advantageous for companies looking to distinguish themselves from their competitors to consider how automated systems can assist them in exploiting their most valuable resource- human capital!
Information technology has been used in all other business functions to streamline activities, cut costs and increase business effectiveness, so why not consider the value it can add to the discipline of Human Resource Management?