12+ Ways Your Legacy HR Tools are Killing More than Your HR Team

By: Tracy Null, VP Business Development

I’m in sales and my battle since the creation of the cold call has been “just pick up the phone.” In the last decade, it’s become better as companies have come to understand that it’s more than a “smile and dial” game in our world. But there are still companies that have experienced sales reps (who can identify and help solve business problems, close, negotiate, up sell and hold relationships with executives) making 500 calls a month. Maybe not the best use of resources, but what happens on other sales teams isn’t my problem to solve.

The problem I do help solve is when I see a similar struggle with some of my HR clients who are tasked to “just manage the data” with old HR tools. Just get the employee files from one excel spread sheet into a payroll system, into three insurance providers’ databases, into the 401k program, into the voluntary benefits programs, into the performance review tool, into the training and development program, into another excel sheet for time and attendance, into another one for disciplinary actions, and run reports against it all and let leadership know how the business is doing. And once they’ve dealt with that mess, they find the time to manage talent, business

growth, healthcare costs and deal with “people” conflict! Fortunately, it’s more widely accepted that this admin nightmare is not the best use of an experienced HR executive’s time, but in this year’s CedarCrestone survey, less than 50% of companies see HR as strategic (but over 40% and climbing do). I still talk to way too many people who are living in this data transfer nightmare at the expense of the human side of human resources.

For anyone who thinks this way of managing your employees and their information is just a matter of inconvenience for a few workers, let’s be clear, it’s not. Let me say it again, there’s a lot more at stake than your HR team’s time (which is valuable in and of itself). If you’re still using multiple legacy, on-premise HR tools (or worse, MSOffice), you’re hurting more than your HR team. Here are 12+ of the ways I regularly see antiquated processes and systems hurting, well, everything:

  1. Your data is a rock instead of a floatation device. If you want a view of key performance indicators, your data is either keeping you afloat or it’s a cinder block tied to your ankle. Inaccurate and inconsistent data leads to bad analysis which leads to risky business decisions. Or worse, bad data isn’t in any condition for analysis, which leads to blind decisions. Your HR team shouldn’t be spending more time finding and transferring data than they are drawing value out of it.
  2. Premium leakage may go unnoticed. It’s a slow drip, but if your termination process is manual and requires termination across multiple benefits providers, any delays or mistakes could be causing you to pay premiums on employees you no longer employ. We recently spoke with a prospect who lost $10,000 over just one improperly terminated employee.
  3. Lousy managers get to stay lousy. Businesses lose over $360 billion annually because of bad managers. And most employees report they’d rather have a good manager than a raise. You cannot get an objective and clear line of sight into every department’s turnover and employee feedback if your HR team is reliant on aggregating feedback exclusively through management. When you lack direct transparency between the company and employees, you may be losing good people and enabling the wrong ones.
  4. One of the things that came up over and over again at this year’s HR Tech is that LinkedIn knows more about your employees than you do. That’s kind of messed up.
  5. You have no master system. When you’re working in payroll, talent suites, training CMSs, recruitment tools, time tools, email and your company intranet, what’s your “go-to” system when you think something is wrong? And who outside of your HR manager knows where to find it? Your HR manager’s head is not the best place for tracking which system contains what data. She’s probably brilliant. But she’s also probably not permanent.
  6. Life events take a lifetime to add. Marriage, baby, divorce, death – they happen in every company. And every benefits provider needs to know about them. It’s a time suck and mistakes are costly – both financially and emotionally.
  7. Personal information is at risk for exposure. Manual processes for signatures aren’t just tedious because people are walking promotion, salary and other critical information from office to office. When that data sits on desks and passes through multiple hands, it’s a security issue.
  8. On premise solutions are at the mercy of your location. Natural disasters, power outages, and physical security issues are not just IT’s problem. Hopefully it never happens, but if your town or city ever suffers a major disaster, the most fundamental thing you can do for your people is make sure they get paid and their insurance information is accessible, even if your HR person is accessing it from home or a hotel.
  9. Your employees forget how much value you offer them. Your benefits package and total compensation should be more to your employees than a set of forms they fill out, turn in and then misplace until the next time they clean out their desks or need to see the dentist. Don’t let your employees take their benefits for granted, and make sure they have simple and easy access to all the programs, tools, insurance products and financial value you offer them.
  10. Open enrollment is a nightmare. That’s for everyone in the company. When it comes to their personal lives, 57% of people will look online for help or information before they engage a customer service rep. And by then, they’re probably annoyed. Chances are, before someone has contacted HR for open enrollment help, they’ve combed the intra- or internet for help and came up short. If you want open enrollment to go smoother, it’s time to bring it online.
  11. Behavior change never arises out of complexity. Getting managers to write reviews. Getting people to take training courses. Implementing a new attendance policy. All are issues I regularly hear HR executives tackling. People never do them. But never doing them isn’t the same as not wanting to do them. Peter Bregman recently wrote a great blog on getting people to change their behavior. Often what’s needed isn’t more incentives or more processes or more disciplinary actions, it’s just less. He writes about how a smaller plate can be the best diet, or moving an outdoor table 10 feet closer to the house can increase its use. Sometimes it’s fewer clicks, fewer logins, and simplicity that can make all the difference in how people engage with the company or adopt a new policy. Do your tools align well with your objectives? Or better yet, do you really need all those tools to meet your objectives?
  12. + Choose any one of the below, which are direct from prospects’ and clients’ mouths:
  • Our system “goes down” a lot because we host it on premise and we have IT limitations
  • I have to manually run reports weekly and monthly to find out things I need to know – there are no automated notifications
  • My employees can’t see and/or change their personal information
  • My benefits open enrollment process doesn’t pass information to payroll so we have to make those deduction changes one by one right after the last payroll that uses the old deductions (no effective dating)
  • Candidate information must be re-entered when they are hired because candidates are housed in a different system
  • I can’t get point in time information
  • Employees have to use 2-3 different portals
  • When I call our vendors they all blame each other and I never get to talk to the same person
  • I need to ensure our workers maintain certain certifications, and this process is manual and unreliable with the systems we use today

My clients have more on their plate than I thought was possible and I’m consistently impressed and sometimes dumbfounded at the “work-around” systems and processes they’ve created to keep everything moving. But if you’re “working around” your technology, is it really working for you?

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