Simplified HR for SMEs
2. Stop sharing the HR hat 3. Numbers game 4. Donâ€™t work till you drop 6. Fire the filing cabinet 9. What the tech? 10. Culture comforts
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Stop sharing the HR hat BY NICK HARDY, CONTENT MARKETING SPECIALIST, BREATHE
ID YOU KNOW that, according to the Office for National Statistics, Britain’s small businesses contributed a colossal £2tn to the economy last year? There are 5.7 million companies with 16.2 million employees between them and it’s a massive achievement every one of their leaders and teams should stand up and take a bow for. But despite the success, running a business is tough. It takes a special breed of person to lead the way while juggling the many different tasks that combine to keep businesses afloat. Sales, marketing, business development, customer service, financial management – the list of things small businesses must painstakingly carry on their shoulders with often limited resources is endless. It’s therefore no surprise people say there are never enough hours in the day. It begs the question: what about people management and HR? Get this essential aspect of running a 02
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business right and your people – the foundation of your company – can achieve great things. Get it wrong and a business will suffer. After all, the reality is every business owner or manager who employs people is involved in HR. They might not call it that – for many, it’s just one of numerous hats they wear – but it’s an essential part of effective management. From recruiting fresh faces and ensuring they’re a good cultural fit for your business to handling employee documents and forms, calculating holiday entitlements, recording absences and much, much more, HR is demanding. This is especially the case for small businesses that don’t employ HR specialists. Enter Breathe – a software company which develops online tools to help owners and managers of small businesses spend less time on HR admin and get rid of unruly paper-based records to focus on what they’re really there for. We of all people understand as we’re
still a small business ourselves at 37 employees strong. We’re proud more than 6,000 small businesses and charities use our software to manage over 200,000 people, with our free 14-day trial clearly giving an irresistible taste of the action. Breathe’s on a mission to help SMEs centralise everything to do with their people in a single, secure system and automate all of the processes burning precious time. We believe ease of use is everything and want to equip business owners with costeffective tools so they don’t have to be a HR expert to do their job. As part of this mission we’re delighted to have teamed up with Elite Business. Whether it’s keeping legally compliant or getting ahead of the competition’s productivity, the following pages show in black and white why HR automation is becoming the gold standard for SMEs’ continued success in Britain’s economy.
Numbers game 23%
of companies believe not understanding what’s most important to staff is the greatest obstacle to changing their business’ rewards strategy
is the cost of poor company culture to Britain’s economy
of organisations see software innovation and quick releases as the biggest pull to cloud-based HR, with 50% enticed by reduced reliance on IT and 44% liking lower ownership costs
of businesses blame a lack of processes to identify and move employees as the biggest barrier to internal talent mobility, closely followed by 48% pointing at the availability of internal employees to fill roles
1/3 organisations hosting HR applications in-house look to change to the cloud over 12 to 18 months
of organisations had at least one cloud-based HR process in 2017, up from 68% in 2015
one in five employers that moved to cloud-based HR saw reduced HR personnel costs thanks to more automation and innovation
34% of British workers quit their job because of bad company culture
Sources: Breathe, PwC, Deloitte
SIMPLIFIED HR FOR SMES | BREATHE
Don’t work till you d r o p With legal duties like ensuring GDPR compliance, there’s more data than ever for even the smallest of businesses to get their head around. However, without modern solutions both employers and employees are suffering
ET’S FACE IT, there aren’t always enough hours in the day for SMEs to grow without staff burning the midnight oil. We’re in an era dubbed the alwayson culture, where workforces are so bogged down with tasks they can’t pry themselves from the office. For example, insurance company AXA found a whopping 59% of Brits take work-related calls outside work hours and 55% check work emails. But given the copious amounts of data on employees and clients that businesses must lawfully handle these days, no one feels the brunt more than HR personnel. Take General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as a case in point. With the government 04
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decreeing businesses must give both customers and staff control over their held private information as well as keep it up to date, there’s an incalculable amount of HR manpower needed to stay lawfully compliant. “Since the introduction of GDPR last year, employers have faced increased pressure to develop and alter their existing policies in line with the new rules,” summarises Paul Holcroft, associate director at Croner, the HR consultancy. Businesses don’t need reminding of the crippling €20m or 4% of annual turnover penalty that non-compliance can incur, meaning even the smallest and least equipped businesses
must keep private information secure and accurate. “Employers should remember that, regardless of size, companies who are found to have not properly followed provisions outlined by the GDPR could be subjected to substantial fines,” Holcroft warns. Despite the advent of computers, the internet and many other technical wonders promising to speed working processes up, it seems we’re working just as much – if not more – than last century’s workforces using typewriters and telegrams. What gives? It’s a common misconception that putting more manual processes and spreadsheets at employees’
Even when HR departments want to gather long-term insights on employees and the business, [there’s] too much data for any genuinely helpful findings to be gathered Nick Shaw, MD at 10x Psychology
fingertips will streamline staff management. But really, it can achieve the opposite. “Even when HR departments want to gather long-term insights on employees and the business, [there’s] too much data for any genuinely helpful findings to be gathered,” says Nick Shaw, MD at 10x Psychology, the workplace psychology company. Mustering up funds to hire more HR recruits to tackle the ever-increasing workloads is an easy fix for giant corporations. But for SMEs, having staff wear multiple hats is one of the only affordable solutions – much to their detriment. “A major issue small businesses can face is line managers overseeing HR without being properly experienced or qualified to respond to HR situations,” Holcroft says. That’s not to mention the double and sometimes triple titles employees bear, meaning one absent person can mean an entire department is nowhere to be seen. “For example, companies with smaller numbers of staff may struggle during periods where employees are on annual leave or absent for some other reason and managers should remember the rights and entitlements their staff have to take periods away from work,”
Holcroft continues. And when they’re in the office, the resulting burnout means workers’ mental health isn’t a priority. Thankfully, companies can let automation handle the data. “The impact of automation in HR is far-reaching and different for every business,” Shaw describes. “Much of its application is around accessing the wealth of data that businesses have on their employees.” With the ability to structure benefits packages, manage holidays, develop training opportunities and handle illness-related absences among others nitty-gritty duties, HR automation is like a muchneeded employee that frees colleagues to do what they’re hired for – and it doesn’t even demand a salary. “HR automation can help as it’s now a must-have for businesses of all sizes to improve staff retention and increase productivity,” says Shaw. With little room for human error, automation is also a beefy line of defence against private information breaches that can bring companies trouble. Indeed, digitising cumbersome and unmanageable paperwork in one cohesive place instead of spreading it across multiple filing cabinets is part and parcel of modern safety.
With much more affordable prices than the result of errorprone staff unqualified for HR processes, automation is a saviour for SMEs in this day and age. “If you are using paper or spreadsheets, drop them and use [automation],” concludes Garry Sneff, HR director of The Writer, the brand language agency and customer of Breathe. “For a small outlay each month you have a one-stop shop to keep all the info in one secure place as well as save yourself hours of time.”
Since the introduction of GDPR last year, employers have faced increased pressure to develop and alter their existing policies in line with the new rules Paul Holcroft, associate director at Croner, the HR consultancy
SIMPLIFIED HR FOR SMES | BREATHE
Fire the filing cabinet Despite Ramsac upgrading most of its departments across two decades, retrograde HR held progress back
OT EVERY COMPANY can claim to be growing 20% year-on-year like Ramsac, the IT management business. To get to this stage it digitised as many of its departments as possible over its 26 years of operating to erase unnecessary workloads and focus on growth. “We’re [now] as paperless an organisation as you’d expect from an IT practice,” says Dan May, commercial director at Ramsac. However, this was only achieved after taking a hard look at the one area of the company keeping progress in the dark ages. “The last remaining filing cabinet was the personnel records, where we always got copies of people’s annual leave requests, personal development reviews and copies of contracts and letters,” May describes. With the filing cabinet residing in May’s office, the commercial director was anointed as its gatekeeper, a burden that leeched 06
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time away from his actual duties. “As the director with responsibility for HR, every time the line manager wanted to do a one-toone meeting with their team, for example, they had to come to me to ask for certain information,” May remembers. And when he wasn’t around, all the line managers came to a standstill. “I had the key to it and [when] I worked from home, client sites or whatever it might be, you can guarantee the day I wasn’t in is the day somebody wanted access to something,” May laughs. Not all files were stuck behind a physical lock and key, however. “We’d got information in disparate places, so some information sat in our payroll software but only one or two people had access to that – line managers didn’t have access,” May says. Given Ramsac helps its clients “be more streamlined, efficient and agile,” as May summarises, the irony wasn’t lost on anyone. As the
staff pool grew, chasing one or two individuals for basic information became unmanageable. “In order to do a proper job of managing and motivating the team you need the data in front of you,” May says. Ramsac was on mission to drag its HR into the 21st century using integrated cloud software. “So we were looking for a platform that enabled us to combine all of that really,” May continues. “[To] be more efficient, less paper-based [and] have information in one central place.” Some well-known brands caught May’s eye but none more than Breathe, the cloud-based HR software, as the only one confident enough to offer a free trial period. “That kind of demystified the whole thing,” May details. “We got to have a whole month of really playing with the software first without committing.” May emptied his cabinet’s contents into the software with surprising ease. And like magic,
In order to do a proper job of managing and motivating the team you need the data infront of you
the files could appear on any device at any time without needing May and his keys. “I really liked the fact it gives self-service to the end users,” he says. “That employees could see their own data [and] update if they changed things like their next of kin details or address.” Likening it to the modern standard of pulling up bank balances on phones instead of travelling to physical branches, May couldn’t envisage going back and went all in with his provider. “Breathe supported us through a process of converting that trial into a live account and importing data from our previous payroll system,” he explains. Security was at the forefront of Breathe’s mind so a lot of time was dedicated to a “cleansing process,” where staff logged on for the first time and verified their details were current. Here, the software immediately proved its worth. “The details we thought were up to date, particularly things like next of kin information, had actually been out of date for ages,” May admits. “So it was a really good opportunity for
people to log on and update their own data and start from scratch.” Seven years on, Ramsac hasn’t been afraid to expand its staff team with no more HR burdens that used to come with it. “We worked on streamlining the onboarding process for new colleagues,” May says. “We went to paperless job offers so we now have all our new starters logging in. As an IT business that’s a really positive first impression for new colleagues.” After just a few months with Breathe, Ramsac even learned how to collate and action seemingly minor details that mattered to workers. “Once we started using the system and really getting some data built up then the reporting and analytics really came into its own,” describes May. “Just the ease
of which we have data at hand [is impressive] – like when people’s birthdays are and when they hit service anniversaries with us.” SMEs must pick their battles wisely by spending on only the most important areas. And given people are the lifeblood of business, May’s seen HR automation more than pay for itself. “I think for me it paid for itself a hundred times over,” he declares. It’s needless to say May’s also delighted to have more space in the office for anything but another filing cabinet. “The hours of time it’s saved me in not having to be the one person that answers every HR question, because line managers can look at their team and individuals can look at their own records, is priceless,” he concludes.
The hours of time it’s saved me in not having to be the one person that answers every HR question, because line managers can look at their team and individuals can look at their own records, is priceless SIMPLIFIED HR FOR SMES | BREATHE
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tech? In the GDPR era, trusting tech with your employees’ personal details may sound alarm bells – but HR management software actually gives the opposite impression
URPRISINGLY, management software and HR aren’t words some assume gel well. There are ideas that mixing staff’s private information with tech can lead to the sorts of leaks and hacks that keep making headlines and prove difficult to maintain. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s true management software once fed off businesses’ in-house servers with the need for IT staff to keep it going. Of course, for small businesses with just enough resources to facilitate a computer network, such a luxury was out of the question. With the cloud, however, this is a bygone era. It lets providers like Breathe, the cloud-based HR software, do all the heavy lifting for over thousands of companies and hundreds of employees around the world simultaneously.
In fact, the cloud’s a standard solution for most businesses looking to use the big guns. The Cloud Industry Forum, the industry body, reported 88% of IT and business decision-makers use one or more cloud-hosted apps, while 67% looked to ramp up their adoption over 2018. Nonetheless, with the General Data Protection Regulation threatening to incur the wrath of the law should companies mishandle their staff’s personal details, some are understandably weary of passing the micromanagement to technology. But really, it’s the best thing you can do. Heathrow Airport, for instance, saw a worker lose a memory stick with 1,000 files of up to 50 staff’s personal details, along with the passport numbers, names and birth dates of ten others. It fell into the hands of a
national newspaper who snapped some copies before returning it. And after a visit from the Information Commissioner’s Office, the airport met a £120,000 fine. Centralising employee info in a single, secure system minimises the risk of human error. With platforms like Breathe automatically generating backups every day on top of authorised login details that can be cancelled in seconds, staff couldn’t lose data even if they tried. Look for cloud software like Breathe which has been ISO 27001 certified and you can be confident your employee data is in safe hands. Moving on from old, familiar systems and tried-and-tested ways may seem like a challenge. But when businesses get hands on with HR software, going back seems out of the question. SIMPLIFIED HR FOR SMES | BREATHE
Nearly all business owners brag they care about company culture. However, staff see straight through obligatory drinks and pool tables – here’s how to really boost their wellbeing
E HAVE A long way to go in de-stigmatising mental health and creating a culture where people feel comfortable talking about it. Fortunately, we are moving in the right direction. With accounts from high-profile public figures like Prince Harry, Frank Bruno, Stephen Fry, Fearne Cotton, Adele and Carrie Fisher who have experienced mental health issues firsthand, others are being encouraged to open up too. However, you can’t ignore the numbers when it comes to businesses. Research from Mind, the mental health charity, suggests poor mental health costs the UK economy a staggering £100bn per year. In addition, the Health and 10 BREATHE | SIMPLIFIED HR FOR SMES
Safety Executive, the government agency, revealed work-related stress is the second greatest cause of occupational ill health, representing 57% of all working days lost. The facts only get more sobering. Deloitte, the professional services network, found out of the 31 million British workers over five million could be suffering from mental health conditions each year. This is an extraordinary number and with increased pressure on public sector health services and resources, the problem isn’t going away quickly. The good news is more businesses are focusing on fostering a strong company culture, reaping the rewards of a
happy, productive workplace as a result. After all, as Richard Branson once said: “Look after your people and they will look after your business.” So here’s what to look out for when striving for that goal. Absenteeism and presenteeism – the toxic twins Although high levels of absenteeism are indicative of an unhappy workforce, so too is persistent presenteeism. This is where employees are at work for more hours than needed and don’t feel comfortable switching off. This no doubt contributes to stress and burnout, which has a knockon impact on motivation and performance.
Above all, ask yourself honestly: is your workplace somewhere you would choose to show up to?
Presenteeism is common in cultures where managers work long hours, with expectations for employees to do the same. And high levels of presenteeism can indicate a toxic culture draining people rather than motivating them to be results-focused. This is as common in small businesses as it is in large companies. Get physical Evidence shows negative workplace cultures have profound effects on people’s health. For instance, there’s a wellestablished link between physical and mental health, prompting many employers to provide benefits packages including medical insurance, subsidised gym membership and cycle-towork schemes. The cultural context – an age of scandals? It can feel at times like we’re living through an unprecedented volume of business malpractice and scandals. We’ve witnessed the slow-motion car crash at Uber, the long-running issues with Harvey Weinstein and the Weinstein Company, the gender pay gap at the BBC, alleged sexual exploitation issues at Oxfam and accusations of sexism levied at the Presidents Club, the charitable trust. It’s hard to believe any of these recent events could have taken place in the context of a positive, inclusive and humane workplace culture.
Smaller businesses may feel they’re removed from the stories dominating the news agenda yet there’s a significant and important continuity – we’re all operating in a world of unprecedented connectivity, closely linked to a new level of citizen and consumer empowerment. And while you may not lead the national or global news agenda for days and weeks, you can be sure issues within your own businesses will be shared and known across your constituencies. Your reputation, recruitment and business will inevitably feel the effects, whatever size you are. Put simply, there’s no
hiding place for organisations. Now is the time to be bold and proactive, take a close look at all aspects of your business operations, engage your teams and leaders and find a positive and authentic way forward to sustained inclusive success. Above all, ask yourself honestly: is your workplace somewhere you would choose to show up to?
The good news is more businesses are focusing on fostering a strong company culture, reaping the rewards of a happy, productive workplace as a result
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