“From this evening I must give the British people a very simple instruction: you must stay at home”

This one sentence, spoken by Boris Johnson on March 23rd, 2020 completely changed the way we work. It led to new opportunities for businesses but also rapid changes in processes and working practices that left many companies struggling to thrive in the “new normal”. 

Remote working became standard practice. People moved from the office to the kitchen table, as managers, HR leaders and business owners began to figure out what it took to run their company remotely. 

One department that was hit hard by lockdown was HR. Human Resources is primarily a people focused role and when HR teams were forbidden from meeting colleagues face-to-face it presented a lot of challenges that led to reduced productivity.

HR teams that didn’t have access to cloud based technologies, or ways to digitally communicate with team members, were hit particularly hard. And teams across the board were put under extra pressure by business leaders to speed up digital transformation projects and get all employees working at 100% efficiency again.

Add to this the logistical challenge of making sure all team members had access to the correct equipment they needed to work from home and you can see why HR departments were stretched like never before. This, in turn, led to a big dip in productivity.   

But the pandemic also provided solutions to these problems, new technologies and processes were created to help struggling HR teams adapt and thrive in this new world of work. 

In this article we’re going to look at the ways the pandemic has affected HR teams’ productivity and explore how HR software can help struggling HR teams become more productive and efficient when working with remote teams.  

HR department efficiency – crunching the number*

Just over a fifth of businesses in the UK (22%) have seen a decline in the efficiency of their HR teams due to the pandemic. This has led to increased pressure on HR departments as business leaders have become increasingly keen to undertake digital transformation projects quickly, so their companies don’t lose out during the pandemic.  

For HR teams, the move to cloud-based operations and an increased investment in automation and AI has become important post-pandemic. 28% of businesses spoken to said moving to cloud-based operations was a priority for them and 21% said adopting increased automation would be the key to keeping their HR departments efficient. 

Other challenges faced by HR teams during the pandemic included tracking and collecting data on employees’ time and attendance, monitoring the increased threat to employee wellbeing, and the increased security risks from cyber-attacks. These were all listed as significant challenges HR teams faced when trying to manage hybrid workers, you can see the number below:

Significant challenges faced HR teams during the pandemic

27% of HR teams said tracking employees time at work and attendance was difficult 

26% of HR teams said monitoring employee wellbeing and happiness was a challenge 

25% of HR teams said managing security risks and cyber attacks were a challenge during lockdown

The most important figure to take away from this section is that 82% of businesses said they are planning on continuing hybrid working to some extent post-pandemic. 

This means the challenges HR teams faced during lockdown won’t be going away and to get their departments operating back at full efficiency, they’ll need to adopt new tools, processes and softwares to stay abreast of the current hybrid and remote working trend. This has led many HR departments to critically appraise their HR processes and lots are now looking for new HR software. 

If you’re going through a HR system selection process make sure you read the next section of this article. It lists some must-have features you’ll want any new HR software to do if you want to improve your department’s efficiency.    

*Figures taken from a study conducted by HR specialists Zellis

3 ways HR software can improve your efficacy post-pandemic

With the office no longer being the status quo for workers, making sure your company has good SaaS tools that let you communicate and collaborate digitally is a must if you want your business to remain productive and competitive. 

The same goes for HR departments. The right HR software can revolutionise your processes and create efficiency savings in your team that, in turn, help improve employee satisfaction and reduce churn. Who doesn’t want that? 

If you’re looking for some new HR software check out our HR system selection guide to find the perfect tool for you – 4 steps to finding the right HR software: a buyers guide

Below we’ve listed 3 ways that HR software can help you improve efficiency in your HR department. If you’re currently going through a HRIS selection process, make sure you’re considering these 3 factors when making any decision. 

1. HR technology can automate a lot of your tasks

Automated reminders and email automations are two big ways that HR software can help improve efficiency in your department. Imagine a tool that tracks all your employees’ data, things like their start date, appraisal dates and quarterly reviews and then lets you know ahead of time when you need to contact them about something. 

Even better than that, imagine a tool that automatically informs your employee when these dates are coming up and asks them to confirm their attendance. An HR software tool with email automation features can do all of this. 

It saves an HR executive managing a spreadsheet of dates and manually emailing employees to arrange appraisals and reviews. Not only is this process slow and time consuming but it’s open to human error. 

By letting your HR software manage and remind you of these key dates in an employee’s professional life you can spend your time working on more important HR tasks.

If you’re in the middle of an HR system selection process then keep an eye out for any platform that lets you schedule your own reminders and offers automated email outreach.  

2. HR software gives all employees platform access 

With the advent of HR software, long-gone are the days when employees need to physically head to the HR team’s office to book their holidays. This can now all be done from the comfort of their own desk. Or, during the pandemic, from an employees home. 

It’s clear to see how a non-digital approach to booking time off would have been a nightmare during lockdown. An employee would need to call an HR team member, that team member would then need to find a spreadsheet or calendar with all the employee holidays manually added to it, and then they’d need to cross-reference the dates to make sure there were no clashes on the company holiday schedule. 

This is an awful lot of work for someone who wants to book a half day off on Friday for a wedding. 

HR software platforms can be accessed by all company employees and they can request their annual leave wherever they are. Even better than that, many HR software platforms  have viewable holiday calendars, so you can see when colleagues have already booked time off. This reduces confusion amongst staff and avoids holidays being rejected by HR.  

All in all, it saves everyone time, provides transparency to employees and gives HR team members one centralised location to manage all employee holidays.

A centralised holiday management feature should be a must have for anyone undergoing a HRIS system selection process. It might not feel like a big feature, but managing holidays can become a big drain on HR team members’ time, so anything that removes the stress from doing that should be welcomed. 

3. HR tech gives you actionable employee insights you can use to improve your company

Collating data from paper-based feedback forms is pretty old fashioned. If you’re trying to gauge the mood and morale within your company, sending out feedback forms like this can lead to low uptake from staff and an incomplete data set. 

Even if you do get a good response from employees, inputting the data into a spreadsheet and gleaning some useful insights from it could take weeks. By that time, things could have shifted so rapidly in your company that the insights you’ve gained could be useless. 

Digitalising this process can give you up-to-the-minute insights into the morale and satisfaction of your staff. HR software makes it easy to react to these learnings and provide resources and interventions, where necessary, to help employees remain engaged at work and ultimately reduce churn.

Using a HR software platform to conduct this research takes the leg work out of the data gathering and gives you easy to understand insights into your company. This is especially important when you’re working with distributed and hybrid teams.  

For those undergoing an HR system selection process, finding a tool with good data gathering and analysis features should be high on your priorities list. 

About to start a HR system selection process? 

If your HR team is struggling to cope with the increased challenges and pressures brought about by the pandemic, then maybe some new HR software could help you retake control of your department and get back to operating at full capacity. 

Whether you’re already in the middle of an HR system selection process, or you’re about to start a HRIS selection transformation project, we can help you at Phase 3. We offer independent HR consultancy and we specialise in helping businesses update and onboard new HR software. If you’d like to chat with us about how we could help you find some new HR software you can contact us here.