From absence management to HRIT: A Webster Buchanan survey

In a survey of 100 HR directors and managers in the UK, carried out by Webster Buchanan Research in association with Computers in Personnel, we examined a broad range of people management issues, from absence management to investment in software and services. Some of the findings include:

Shortcomings in managing absence

  • Respondents were comfortable with their ability to handle several operational aspects of absence management, such as running back-to-work interviews and managing the disciplinary issues, but poorer at more strategic issues. 35% admitted they were poor at intervening effectively in long-term absence, and 55% confessed they were poor at taking preventative steps to encourage well-being
  • From a data management and analysis perspective, 42% conceded they were poor at promptly capturing data about absence episodes and storing it centrally, and almost half (49%) said they were poor at analysing and acting on the root causes of absence. This is reflected in separate findings that show many HR managers lack either the tools to manage and analyse data effectively, or the skills to do so

Philosophies on recruitment

  • The majority of respondents (62%) agreed that "recruitment is a sales and marketing exercise, not purely an HR task" and that organisations need "a good corporate image, marketing skills to identify the best candidates, and sales skills" to encourage them to join their organisation
  • Almost half of respondents (49%) agreed that "HR will start to lose out in the race for talent over the next twelve months if it fails to get involved with social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Linked-In to reach potential recruits", while a third (34%) disagreed.

Drivers for investing in HR software or services

  • Despite relentless focus on cost, the top driver for investing in HR software or services was to improve the quality of service for employees and managers (ranked as important by 89% of respondents), followed by improving the quality of management information (76%). Reducing HR administration costs was third (73%), followed by reducing IT costs. Webster Buchanan suggests that in some cases, these priorities may need to be reordered to win business case approval
  • One third of respondents (33%) conceded that expanding their personal experience and enhancing their CV was an important factor in determining whether to invest in HR software or services. While that attitude may be frowned upon in the boardroom, it indicates how critical software and services are to running today's HR function

Maximizing existing investments

  • Many organisations are not taking full advantage of their existing HRIT investment, with 39% aware that they're not using all the useful functionality available to them, and almost two out of ten (18%) conceding they've implemented very little of their system's potential capability. The survey suggests one reason is lack of training for existing and new staff

The survey also examined HRIT investment priorities, the quality of management information provided by HR, and perceptions of Software as a Service (SaaS).

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