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Managing employee relations with data driven insights

By Andy Shettle, Chief Product Officer of ER Tracker
28 February 2020

The most important aspect of any business is its people and no organisation can effectively operate without them. Successful businesses understand that a happy workforce is a productive workforce and as the HR function take a more strategic position, increasing emphasis is being placed on effectively managing employee productivity, wellbeing and retention.

Effective employee relations programs look to engage and motivate employees and the importance of creating a strong employee experience has never been greater. HR teams are not only responsible for ensuring that everyone is treated fairly across the board but also that relationships between employees and their managers are strengthened. With this growing importance on employee’s mental, physical and financial wellbeing, comes a shift in working practices and the need for more data driven insights. In order for HR to become proactive rather than reactive, HR professionals should begin to look more closely at their case management and harness data in a way which highlights trends.

Effective employee relations 

Acting as an interface between staff and the business itself, the HR department is at the centre of operations and the first point of contact for core issues. From strengthening employer-employee relationships, adherence to employment law and identifying and resolving workplace issues – any problems relating to employment are channelled through the department. With organisational success heavily dependent on the productivity and engagement of the workforce, the HR function looks to ensure employee satisfaction in a bid to reduce issues such as absenteeism, as well as maintaining fairness and swift resolution.

However, with such a wide remit it’s important that employee issues are structured and consistent – failing to do so can have a detrimental effect on an organisation’s relationship with its employees. With HR teams responsible for handling serious issues such as conflict, grievances and disciplinaries information needs to be recorded and managed in an efficient manner. In many instances, employee relations cases are being tracked using spreadsheets which only contain the most basic of information. Organisations should look to move beyond these systems and adopt more mature and automated processes, with consideration towards specialist technologies which can drive real business value. In doing so, departments will not only have a clearer picture on the amount of cases they are handling but also which stage they are at. A transparent environment is key to maintaining good employee relations and technology is well positioned to bridge the gap, by linking intentions with action. Investing in robust technology not only allows HR departments to gather accurate data but also offers the opportunity to use the data to drive decision making.

For instance, incorporating and logging attendance issues into employee relations software could help HR managers to identify potential problems. By recording employee data in this way, patterns of behaviour are highlighted and could provide HR managers with early warning signs. Gaining these insights allows HR and management teams to proactively approach individuals in order to understand the reasons behind failing attendance. While some cases may well be non-work related, others could be a result of varying workloads or conflicting management styles. Whatever the reason, steps can be taken to proactively alleviate the problem and most importantly, reduce the impact absences have on the wider business.

Automating for accuracy 

The ability to create better, more transparent employee experiences provides a compelling reason for organisations to adopt robust employee relations systems as standard, but there is also a case from a general business performance perspective. Utilising cloud-based tools can help to reduce administrative processes as well as providing managers with the data needed to make informed decisions. On top of that, the data generated by the system can help HR teams to identify common features within cases, such as typical hold-ups or delays, an understanding of why cases are occurring, and when to intervene to reduce further cases. Analysing data in this way also levels the playing field for employees, by ensuring that everyone follows the same stages, steps and procedures, and are treated equally.

Automated tools also help HR teams by improving accuracy and reducing the potential for human error, by ensuring that information is automatically fed into the appropriate HR or payroll system. This is not just about reducing the administration involved in data entry, these solutions also provide a vital audit trail to help resolve queries on either side. While there is no legal requirement for organisations to record and keep any data on employee relations cases, it’s highly recommended that they do so – should an employee be dismissed and there is no record of the case then companies could be at the mercy of an employment tribunal.

There’s no doubt that employee relations technology has a key role to play, especially as the HR department strategically aligns itself with business goals. The ability to provide quantitative HR data can drive real value and provides HR teams with the opportunity to identify employment trends and root causes – as well as reducing the operational complexity of managing multiple employee cases. Going one step further, data analytics can help the HR department to bridge the gap between the boardroom and deliver meaningful insights and visibly demonstrate a contribution to the business bottom line.

Driving efficiency through the HR department not only helps organisations to develop stronger relationships with staff but also reduces costs at the same time – whether those costs are in the form of absences, tribunal or administration. Ultimately, more efficient processes free up HR to focus more strategically, focusing on employee engagement which is critical to driving business success.

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