Why HR professionals in SMEs need more support
Overworked, underpaid and stressed, HR staff are often overlooked. Despite making up only around 1% of the UK’s employed population, HR professionals are increasingly pivotal in improving the performance and productivity of 16.1 million people employed by UK SMEs (FSB).
Why are HR professionals unhappy?
If human resources (HR) staff are unhappy, that’s a serious problem for any business. The role of HR is vital to business success because they help manage its most vital asset – its employees. Often smaller companies are stuck in a rut of paper-based management of employee’s hours, holidays and absence. This all takes up HR resource that could be being used more effectively elsewhere. It makes sense to pay attention to their gripes.
The smallest employing businesses start out with one member of staff dealing with HR, often juggling HR responsibilities with their main role as a Director or in Finance or Ops. Even then they may be dealing with multiple sites and employees working on different locations. As a business grows, the operation gets more complex in terms keeping track of staff hours and administering the payroll. Recruitment and training also take up more time, adding to the pressure as businesses expand.
Investing in HR software can help save time and money, ultimately leading to greater business success.
What is HR software?
HR software is designed for dealing with the numerous tasks involved in managing employees, it’s more than simply a clocking in system. It may also be known as HR management software, but in essence, such systems all seek to simplify and streamline core HR tasks.
HR software may deal with one or a few HR tasks (e.g. holiday tracking or linking timesheet information with payroll), or it may be a more all-encompassing system (e.g. including recruitment and onboarding, generally required by larger organisations). The software is designed to automate the manual tasks previously done on timecards and spreadsheets, so that systems and processes become speedier, more accurate and often more accessible.
Core tasks commonly undertaken by HR software include:
- Tracking staff attendance
- Monitoring absences
- Generating holiday and absence calendars
- Calculating the payroll
- Producing reports
- Enabling employee self-service
Significantly, in addition to everyday HR tasks, HR software can also enable better planning, decision-making and budget-management. HR software can therefore benefit more than simply HR staff alone.
Why choosing the right software for HR is so important
The use of HR software by SMEs is increasing. Due to their smaller size, every penny spent by SMEs is crucial and that’s why the right software for HR teams matters. It’s important to choose the correct system for the size of company, needs and budget.
- Lack of consultation – HR staff are often unhappy about not being consulted about software change. It may be IT leading the research and procurement process for a new attendance system so it’s important for firms to involve their HR specialists in procurement decisions which will affect them.
- Wrong choice of HR software – the wrong choice of HR software can actually hinder HR staff in their job. Any new system needs to be fit-for-purpose. It’s often a temptation to over spec requirements. Work out what the business needs now to make a positive difference to processes, you can always upgrade as the business grows.
- Lack of training and buy-in – the day-to-day users need to be trained to make sure they get the most out of the system, and ongoing support offered as people move on. HR also has an important role to play in getting buy-in from the workforce to a new system.
Many businesses are opting for cloud-based HR software which is delivered via the web. The software and its data is held ‘in the cloud’ which means it can be accessed by any authorised staff from any location.
In addition to dealing more efficiently with transactional activities such as staff attendance and absence monitoring, HR software is actually enabling a more transformational role for HR specialists, one of the top organisational trends for the future. It frees up HR staff from routine tasks and gives them more time to help develop and transform business.