Wellbeing was an issue that was already high up on HR’s priority list. Now it matters more than ever that HR practitioners are taking a proactive approach to support their employees given all the additional pressures, uncertainties and worries that have arisen as a result of the pandemic.
Every responsible employer wants its people to have good physical and mental health. There are many associated benefits for companies too, including higher productivity and retention levels, reduced absence levels and increased levels of employee morale and engagement. But the wellbeing challenge has increased considerably and to add to the complexity, those challenges will inevitably be different for everyone.
Some employees might have suffered directly as a result of catching the virus, or have had family members or close friends contract it. Other employees might be waiting to access the treatment they need, or delaying seeking help because of fears about going into healthcare settings. Some might be suffering from escalating levels of anxiety.
Many employees are still working remotely, and while this can bring many positives with it and reduces the risk of exposure to Covid-19 in the workplace, it could also mean wellbeing issues are less likely to be identified. The range of issues employees could be grappling with as a consequence of the pandemic is vast.
How can HR software help with managing this significant challenge?
It’s more important than ever that highly accurate, real-time HR information is readily available to inform and guide decision making and to make sure companies are offering the right support to employees. HR software has the potential to help in several ways – these are some of them.
1. HR software facilitates effective absence monitoring and wellness initiative targeting
Monitoring absence has always been an important element of managing wellbeing. At the heart of doing it effectively is high quality data that enables the organisation to accurately capture all forms of absence. Not only can HR software record the information, but it can also be used to interrogate the data in numerous ways to develop more detailed insights. It’s only through careful and rigorous analysis of the information that companies can identify key issues and spot patterns that are emerging over time.
By being able to highlight wellbeing concerns that might be materialising, companies can react. They can quickly examine potential causes, then take steps to address them. The data’s vital for ensuring any actions put in place to deal with absence levels (whether at an individual level or across the organisation) and wellness initiatives as a whole are targeted and appropriate.
2. HR software can support a more nuanced approach to wellbeing and absence policies
The standard wellbeing approach no longer fits the new reality. Covid-19 has led to a number of new situations which employers must be ready to accommodate.
Clearly employees who are ill with the virus must be absent from work, but there will also be individuals who have to self-isolate. Some might have potential symptoms and whereas once a new repetitive cough would probably have been viewed as a minor ailment and not a reason to stay at home, it’s now very different. Some employees might be symptomless but have been told to self-isolate via the track and trace system. At what will be an anxious time for them, it’s important they are supported by their employers and not worrying about financial implications if they don’t receive the appropriate payments.
Fundamentally, there will need to be a more individualised approach to understanding and handling each employee’s circumstances – and it’s vital this is underpinned by accurate real time information.
3. Holiday management is simplified
One important aspect of wellbeing is ensuring employees are taking time off. But sometimes, due to high workloads and the sense of pressure to get things done, employees don’t always use up their full entitlement. In some cases, they just never get round to it: making the request can get complicated because it involves co-ordinating it with other people in the team, so it gets put off. Or employees might simply lose track of where they’re up to with holiday entitlements.
HR software automatically calculates leave allowances, enabling employees to easily check their balances. They can view when others in their team are already off then submit requests for holiday time which can be quickly and easily authorised. Remote employees are able to book time off just as easily too, ensuring they don’t get left out of the loop.
4. HR software assists with more responsive and flexible planning
From identifying sudden key skill shortages to monitoring that mandatory training is up to date, the reporting functionality offered by HR software can support managers with workforce planning in many ways. That’s important from a short term perspective, reducing the risk of staffing issues and ensuring effective continuity.
Longer-term, it assists employers with managing the deployment of skills where they are needed most. In both cases, effective workforce planning reduces the risk of employees being regularly put under undue pressure because of a shortfall of team members or a lack of key skills.
5. Improved evaluation of the longer term impact of wellbeing initiatives
Companies often put well-intentioned initiatives and processes in place to try to support wellbeing. But without relevant data subsequently being gathered and reviewed, it’s difficult to assess how successful they’ve been. Effective evaluation can be impaired in many ways, and one of the main problems is only having limited or poor quality data. HR software offers an important source of reliable and relevant information, helping a company gather together the metrics it needs to measure and establish benefits.
The role of HR has been and will continue to be absolutely vital during these difficult times. When it comes to wellbeing, it’s crucial that HR practitioners have access to accurate and up to date information to help them make the right decisions. If you’d like to know more about how HR software could help you, please do contact us for a chat.