How can HR software help with employee admin headaches?

By Anthony Wolny | 2nd August 2019 | 11 min read

The world of human resources is ever-changing under the weight of constantly shifting employee laws, legislative requirements, and business demands. HR managers are finding that they are increasingly expected to be strategic masterminds, as well as juggling heightened knowledge of employee engagement techniques.

One factor that therefore is not subject to change, is the workload levels of the HR profession as a whole. A recently published survey indicated that increasingly, HR professionals are struggling to manage their workloads within the confines of the normal working day. More than three quarters of those surveyed stated that they spent an extra three and a half hours a week of unpaid time a week completing work-related tasks, with many pinpointing their commute as a key time to respond to critical emails (Ortus HR).

These figures demonstrate exactly why it is so important for HR managers to find ways to automate processes and ease administrative pressures using modern, reliable HR technology. This can help to ensure that your team’s precious hours can instead be used to add real weight to the most value-adding elements of their roles.

If you’ve already made the leap to digital HR management, it can seem that the decision to modernise is something of no-brainer! However, for many, making the change from paper-based or spreadsheet ‘systems’ to intelligent, sophisticated HR software can sometimes seem like an insurmountable challenge. However, the hidden cost of managing HR activities via spreadsheets and paper files can be surprisingly high – it is estimated that the average HR employee loses 300 per year completing paper-based activities, and up to 13.6% of their time maintaining employee records.

Why is annual leave so difficult to manage? 

Whether you work in an organisation of 10 people or 10,000, managing employee annual leave is no simple task. If you are still working on paper-based systems, the sheer administration required to distribute, collate, check and log physical holiday forms alone could take hours of man-power and effort.

Alongside this, you will also be required to keep an eye on general annual leave rules and requirements across your business – for example, are employees generally taking their leave evenly across the year? Are some teams or divisions under-taking their entitlement? Do you have several employees from the same team requiring annual leave at the same time? Do some employees require more annual leave than they are entitled too? Taking all these considerations into account can ultimately result in a logistical headache for many HR teams.

What are the most common pitfalls when managing annual leave?

1.Not encouraging employees to spread annual leave evenly

Allowing your staff to build up too much annual leave, and not encouraging the spreading of holidays, can be often become a minefield for HR teams. The best way to try and combat this is to look honestly at any underlying reasons for this trend occurring within your business – for example, is there an excess of work in some departments? Is your business suffering in the current economic climate? Or do you simply have a stressful culture that means many employees fear taking their holidays? Whatever the reasons, getting to the root of the problem can really help to figure out a practical solution.

2.Buying out employees’ annual leave entitlement

In the past, many businesses offered to ‘buy back’ some of an employee’s holiday allowance if they were willing to sell any unused days during the course of the holiday year. This mirrors the policy that many still have, of allowing employees to buy an extra week’s worth of annual leave every year. However, recent legislation has ruled that an employer cannot provide employees with payment in lieu of their minimum statutory annual leave entitlement. If you have any concerns about your current ‘buy back’ scheme, now may be a good time to review it.

3.Allowing employees to carry over too much holiday

Most organisations will allow their employees to carry over around a week’s worth of annual leave per holiday year, but this depends on the level of leave offered by individual workplaces. For example, EU law prevents employers from carrying over the first four weeks of their statutory entitlement, unless there are special circumstances. If your workplace offers more leave than the minimum required, you could still operate a ‘carry over scheme,’ perhaps with a caveat that any excess leave must be used up within the first few months of the year.

4.Allowing too many employees to take holiday at the same time

The summer and Christmas holidays are traditionally popular times for multiple employees to require annual leave, but you should still be wary of allowing too many staff to take their holidays at the same time. Unfortunately, a mass exodus during a specific period can have a knock-on effect on your business productivity and operations. The fairest way to deal with popular leave periods is to operate on a ‘first come, first served,’ and ‘special circumstances’ policy.

How can HR software help you with annual leave admin?

The introduction of an HR system with a self service component is one of the best ways to combat the administrative headaches that HR teams find themselves dealing with when undertaking absence management tasks. Self service puts the power and responsibility of personal detail management back into the hands of individual employees and managers. Basic functions, such as checking annual leave entitlement, requesting holiday and managing team holidays can sit with employees to initiate and manage, meaning that HR only need to become involved during unusual circumstances.

Holiday requests can also then be routed to the correct person within your organisation, allowing line managers to check and approve all requests directly – such requests can then bypass HR completely. Your self service system can also easily track real-time information on holiday requests and flag any potential issues, such as date clashes with team members. For example, if you have a rule that only two people per team can be on leave at once, the system will alert you if a third request occurs that clashes.

How can you deliver a more agile approach to admin?

With concerns about admin workloads, particularly those focused on managing time and attendance, at an all time high, it is crucial that HR teams learn to work smarter in order to help their business to maintain competitive advantage.

The right HR software can really guide you in developing more agile and attainable working practices. For example, a  recent study of HR managers found that the following 5 areas were rated as most important to the future success of the participant’s HR operation – high quality data and analytics, employer brand and values, system integration, next generation technologies and strategic influencing skills.

With these themes rated as the most important, it is important to understand that investing in the right HR systems and tools can guide you in improving your working practices in these areas, including changing how you approach your wider HR strategy and approach to working in general.