HR Case Management: The Journey to Employee Acceptance

Implementing HR case management is paramount for centralizing and standardizing HR support. It provides the opportunity to streamline the HR processes. It also assigns work to its rightful place, scales the HR organization, enhances reporting, and provides the technological foundation for HR transformation. This ultimately leads to a more structured, efficient HR organization, thus immensely improving the employee experience.

Unfortunately, employees often do not see it that way when initially introduced to HR case management. They are used to walking up or sending an email to their local HR representative and may feel they are losing this individual personal touch. Also, others may just dislike change. This can and should be expected.

And while, to a great extent, the adoption of this new model just requires time, having been through two global HR case management implementations, I do believe there are some actions we can take to facilitate it and make it smoother.

Design Around Employee Experience

According to isolved’s research, employee experience is a top priority for 92 percent of HR leaders. So enhancing employee experience is already at the forefront of our minds. And while all the benefits of HR case management described above may take some time to emerge, there are some value-adds that we can bring about even as we design and configure our HR case management system.

Think about some of your employees’ main challenges when reaching out for HR support. Try to address them. For example, the HR-related information on the company intranet may be very outdated and difficult to navigate. So adding an employee knowledge portal to the HR case management solution can be an effective way of attracting employees to the new work model.

The automatic workflows can provide many other value-adds to employees and managers. From eliminating the need for offline approvals to automatic reminders for required actions or checklists, the options are numerous. And may be a bit overwhelming. So try to assess which ones will have the most significant impact and start with them.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

As with any other change management activity, communication through implementing an HR case management solution is imperative. Highlight the benefits to the employee experience, but to achieve maximum effect, keep the communication focused. Tailor different messages to different groups in the organization, outlining the specific impact the new technology will have on improving their work lives.

While focusing on all the positives, do not forget to be realistic and address the main areas of potential resistance. These usually revolve around two main themes.

The first one is related to response times. For some employees who have so far had easy and direct access to their local HR representative, utilizing HR case management may appear slow. But my experience shows that if we present clear timelines and set the right expectations, most of our internal clients accept the new turnaround times relatively quickly.

The other types of concerns usually revolve around the quality of the HR service and the expertise of the HR specialists who will provide it in the new operating model. So make sure you build up the reputation of your HR service center team during the implementation process.

And don’t forget to continue communicating even after the initial rollout so you can reinforce your messages and keep the momentum going.

Break Old Habits

The tactics described so far are directed at pulling employees to the new HR case management solution. But we also need to push them a bit towards using it.

And to create new habits, we first need to break the old ones. For example, one of the most persistent habits we have as employees is to send and receive emails. Most of us practically live in our inboxes. So the easiest thing to do is shoot an email to the HR specialist we are used to contacting.

In both HR case management implementations that I was part of, we recognized that this habit would delay our system adoption. So we disabled the functionality to open an HR case via email from the start.

This ensured that the employees would have to go through the HR portal. There, they were more likely to try to find the information themselves. Even if they were not successful, they would then be able to select the specific type of HR case related to their query. And that would facilitate triaging and getting their request resolved faster and more efficiently.

Make Using HR Case Management Unavoidable

A big part of our resistance to change is the fear of the unknown. So one of the most efficient ways to facilitate fast adoption is to create a compelling need for people to use the new tool. Think of a process that the vast majority of the employees will want to participate in and move it to your case management tool.

We did this with our PTO sell-back program recently, making our HR case management system the only channel through which employees could send their requests. It had an amazing impact on our adoption rates which continued to remain high even after the program was over.

Get Everyone On Board

Many HR representatives find it easier to continue with their old way of work. They want to respond to queries directly rather than guiding employees to use case management.

If not addressed quickly, this can significantly delay the new model acceptance. In addition, it can create confusion which will be detrimental to employee experience.

So work with your HR function continuously. Provide them with the tools and resources to gently redirect employees and ensure that they are fluent with the system’s benefits.

Provide Excellent Service

All of the actions described here will help you overcome any resistance to change and guide your employees to your HR case management tool. But there is one more big step you need to take if you want them to turn HR case management into the go-to source for all HR support.

You need to ensure that the service employees receive is outstanding. You can have the greatest technology with all the bells and whistles. But in the end, the positive employee experience will depend on whether the query gets resolved. And for that, you need a well-trained and knowledgeable HR service center team.

Investing enough time and resources in their initial training is imperative. But it’s not enough. Make sure they are the first to know about any policy changes or new HR programs. Provide them with all the resources they need. When you do this, HR case management will be all that you promised your employees it would be.

Technology: The Enabling Force Awakening HR as a Strategic Partner in 2016

So if the 2014 word of the year was “Culture”, I am calling the HR word of the year for 2015 “Disruptive” (although technically it was just announced as “-ism”). With the full impact of the ACA set to take place in 2016, changes to OT rules, more companies making the decision to eliminate yearly performance reviews and the latest announcement from KPMG to ditch engagement surveys, I would say 2015 has been quite a “disruptive” year for HR.

According to the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) the #2 trend that will impact the workplace in 2016 is “Trends in Technology are Changing the Way Work is Done.” Members were asked which workplace trends were likely to emerge or grow in their organizations in 2016*. I wanted to take this time to write about three major disruptions I see happening in the workplace that I think will continue into 2016 that have actually been enabled or inspired by the innovative technology that is either already available to HR or is about to be available and that HR should stand up and take notice of.

1) Real-time insights – Employee feedback and analytics

Giving employees a voice

This first trend relates to real-time insights, but not just insights for the sake of insights, but insights that inspire change. These insights are delivered through an organization’s ability to continuously listen to its employees and give them a voice (employee voice). Enabling employees to provide input into decision-making is one of the top drivers of employee engagement. Employee feedback can continuously monitored and compiled and used to provide an orchestrated staff viewpoint on a range of policy areas within the organization. HR can consider the “employee voice,” giving the workforce a quasi-democratic input into the decision- making process. When employees have opportunities to openly communicate ideas and provide feedback across the organization and leaders solicit feedback from and involve employees making decisions employees feel more connected to their organizations.

HR technology vendors are offering organizations an opportunity to gather real-time feedback that managers and organizations can use to gauge the temperature of their employees before there is a problem. Officevibe, a simple to use tool, can be accessed via a mobile device, and be used to gather feedback, measure engagement in real-time and in their next release will actually recommend content to managers based on the three lowest engagement drivers of their team.

Hyphen, a mobile-only app whose tag-line is “Be heard at work”, offers employees an anonymous means to give feedback. While not quite in the same vein as some of these other vendors (there are no pre-defined questions or scores to tabulate), what Hyphen does offer is employees a chance to be heard, to have a voice, something all of us want and need as humans.

Analytics to drive real competitive advantage

As companies step up their efforts to align human capital resources and expenditures with core business objectives, talent analytics is rapidly becoming more prevalent. Additionally, the ability to collect, process and analyze “big data” is becoming a crucial factor in identifying and managing the challenges of the business. Companies that want to gain a competitive edge increasingly need to use analytics to gain data-driven insights into workforce trends and take action to refine HR programs and strategy. Greater use of technology has created a wonderful opportunity to collect and analyze data—an opportunity that can turn data into a powerful business and decision-making tool, but gathering data is only the starting point. The sheer volume of data that organizations can and do amass is overwhelming. However, it has no value to an organization unless it is transformed into meaningful insights.

This is where solutions like Visier and IBM® Kenexa® Talent Insights, are coming to HR’s rescue. Each solution enables insights that would not otherwise be possible without their innovative approach to delivering a cloud-based approach to analytics that is unique in its own ways. IBM utilizes the cognitive prowess of Watson and automatically surfaces patterns and relationships in the data for the user while Visier utilizes machine learning to continuously evolve its predictions and move HR beyond static dashboards and reporting it’s used to and provide it with analytics that are actionable and insightful.

Oh, and by the way, I predict we will see a lot more on “predictive analytics” in 2016 that goes beyond predicting who is most likely to leave. Which I am sure most of us are saying by now, “so what”!

Continuous feedback

The biggest disruption in HR in 2015 has definitely been to Performance. By now, we have all heard about the Accenture’s and the GE’s of the world and their decision to kill the annual performance review. But how many of us know about Sears or the countless others who did so silently and then replaced their system with something more nimble that allowed managers to begin to provide their employees with continuous, real-time feedback on their performance.

This shift away from a rigid, non-agile approach to performance management takes the surprise out of the performance discussion (emphasis on “discussion”) and creates room for an ongoing dialogue between the manager and the employee. The real challenge before now has been having technology to document and facilitate these discussions and shift the employee-manager relationship to more of an employee-coach relationship. I am even going to go out on a limb here and say that technology may have actually been the catalyst that has allowed so many organizations to jump ship and so “Annual Performance Reviews NO More.”

Three innovative HR technology vendors that are helping to solve this problem are BambooHR, TinyPulse and Zugata. In BambooHR’s solution managers are asked to rate employees on their perceived “value” rather than on a traditional meets, exceeds, far exceeds, etc., rating scale and employees and managers have quarterly light-weight assessments. Their approach to assessing performance seems to be closely aligned with research outlined in this HBR article. TinyPulse Perform (in Beta), is a real-time, mobile-first platform that collects weekly data about work performance that allows managers and employees to align on any size objective. The solution also allows managers to send coaching tips and quickly provides both manager and peer feedback to employees about their performance and for managers to assigned shared goals which promotes more team cohesion and accountability. Zugata is another mobile-first application. It utilizes anonymous feedback from peers. Once a week an employee is asked to answer a simple set of questions about an individual they work with. The anonymous feedback from peers helps the employee recognize how they are doing in the moment so they can make adjustments as necessary rather than wait at the end of the year to find out how they performed – no surprises!

The Whole Employee – Health and Wellness (or Well-Being)

I see organizations moving toward a trend of offering programs because they are the right thing to do AND because they are good for the bottom line and not necessarily being faced with an either-or decision. Technology is making this easier for organizations.

At this year’s HR Technology conference we really saw a broader emphasis on a more holistic view of “wellness.” Our understanding of wellness now extends beyond the traditional physical, mental and emotional to include financial well-being as well. With financial stress being listed as the #1 stressor for U.S. adults including programs in organizations that are uniquely tailored to help employees to take action and gain control of their finances is an essential component of overall employee wellness.

O.C. Tanner’s Welbe product measures an organization’s overall wellbeing, while Limeade, is trying to revolutionize the health and wellness industry by drawing attention to the relationship between health and wellness and employee performance. Virgin Pulse focuses on helping build healthy habits that not only include eating, exercise, and sleep but also relationships with family and co-workers and cognitive and financial wellness.

Lastly, managing the “whole person” means acknowledging that everyone is multi-dimensional and has numerous roles to balance in life—all of which affect job performance. So the “whole employee” concept is also about allowing the employee to bring their “whole” self to work it also means that wellness is not just about offering health screenings and assessments to your employees but also making real cultural changes in the workplace that allow employees to truly shut down when they clock out at the end of the day.

*I actually wrote this piece before seeing the survey from SIOP

Note:Any and all references to vendors in this article are unpaid endorsements.

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