A Careful Thought: the challenge of HRIS in the Care sectors

Here is a note of reassurance for those working with HR systems in the Care sector.

I am fortunate in my world to work across a diversity of UK organisational profiles. In the last 12 months one sector – and one within which Phase 3 enjoys solid partnerships – is that of the not-for-profit care, residential support and healthcare industry. It occurs to me that to note these particular challenges, observed from our independent viewpoint, may provide a touch of comfort, reassurance and advice.
I pinpoint 3 factors that combine into an imperfect triangle of people systems challenge for Care:

Firstly the pace of growth, and geographical growth (numbers of physical locations), presents a complexity that exceeds that of businesses of like size. This is the worst of all worlds – as “big” as you get when it comes to some of the metrics most relevant to systems, yet not affording the luxuries of system investment that global players can enjoy to crack these troubles. Said pace of growth manifests in added challenge of TUPE, restructuring and high staff turnover, putting more strain on the modest toolkit.

Secondly there is the workforce profile. Demographics in this industry are such that we can’t today make assumptions about appetite for tech. Care workers are just as likely to be itching to get to grips with the latest devices and frustrated by yesterday’s, ahead of project leaders in an adeptness to use these things, as entirely lacking in IT literacy. How do we engage and communicate with the thousands of workers, key to the business on that basis?

Thirdly there is the rather tricky issue of Time and Attendance and rostering. Varying and response shift patterns are making many HRIS tools not fit for purpose in capturing time at work and relating this to payroll with the appropriate degree of sophistication. Shift-work strikes as number one for pushing HRIS boundaries, but it’s just one of the functions required of people systems with which a core HR product needs to “talk”. We end up with inevitable compromises between systems that are a near-miss in solving one end or the other. The natural end result is likely to be more systems, more interfacing, more remaining of the manual stuff.
So what can be done?
I don’t have the panacea, but I do have a few observations as to those approaches which tend to foster success, so again 3 thoughts:

  • Take a holistic view of people systems – invest in Project Management. Independent and strategic thinking, sitting above the level of any one systems leadership, is likely to allow the most sensible choices to be made to get the best options from an increasingly open HRIS market.
  • Examine products carefully – can they really cater for precise needs? Sign contracts only when appropriate stakeholders have had the opportunity to assess whether the organisation’s needs are met and to what extent. Demo’s are unlikely to be sufficient. Work out the most difficult organisational scenarios and present those to suppliers, looking for an end-to-end explanation about how they are overcome. You may need systems experts to help you with this.
  • Do all you can to maximise take-up – I’ve seen some fabulous communications initiatives, well ahead of time, raising awareness for starters. Consider the methods to be used for training and, importantly, monitor their success. An investment in e-learning materials could be the right approach, but if not working out, be prepared to change tack. Ideally we’d do all things for all people, but of course that’s not too real.

The HR systems industry needs to spare a thought for those in the Care sector, for whom we all owe something of a debt of gratitude. If this is you, then know that I think it’s unlikely it’s “just you”, know that there are plenty options and know that we can find some modest ways to navigate these challenges. We get what you face.

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Written by : Laura Lee

Laura’s role as Head of Marketing sees her continually looking for new opportunities to tell the world how great Phase 3 is.

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