Is Employee Relations the forgotten HR module?

29 Jul 20 by Peter Byrne
HR software

The HR software industry represents a vast and crowded global marketplace reportedly worth an estimated $10bn. But in such a busy environment, why does Employee Relations (ER) rarely appear in vendors’ suites of modules? What is the cost of this staggering market gap and why is change now finally afoot?

By Pete Byrne, CEO and founder of ESPHR

There can be no disputing the size and maturity of the HR software space. Dozens of respected comparison sites exist to pit vendors’ products against each other, with the aim of helping HR departments – large and small – sift through the myriad of options available. The goal of course, is to make it easier for Human Resources teams to draw up their tech wish list – specific to the needs of their own organisation – and ultimately source a software solution that will be fit for purpose, long into the future.

So far, so good.

But there is a fundamental problem when it comes to this product-to-product evaluation exercise.

It’s important to stress that the efforts of the industry comparison sites are not at fault here. The issue lies in the fact that so many HR software solutions – whether supplied by a well-established market leader or an up-and-coming tech disruptor – exist to facilitate only transactional HR responsibilities such as holiday requests, absence management and expenses claims.

There are thankfully some more strategic products out there which also open up a breadth of transformational potential, thanks to the likes of AI-led reporting and predictive analytics capabilities which give HR leaders a compelling voice in the boardroom, for instance.

Yet despite this extremely busy space, and this wealth of technological opportunity, Employee Relations (ER) still remains overlooked. The big question, is why?

Employees are said to form the backbone of so many organisational cultures. So why is there such a gap when it comes to the technology which exists to support a company’s ‘greatest asset’?

Isn’t it time businesses stopped simply talking about what’s in management vogue, and started living and breathing the commitment they voice to their people?

The ‘cost’ of this oversight cannot be underestimated.

However, technology can support this transition to Employee Relations becoming a strategic priority, but only if ER stops being the ‘forgotten module’.

An unexpected – yet welcomed – benefit to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, is the extent to which organisations are now looking past ER as merely a tactical non-priority. The overwhelming volume of flexible working requests, challenges associated with furlough schemes, resistance versus eagerness to return to the workplace, physical and psychological wellness pressures, major business restructures, staggering shifts in team dynamics, mass office closures and the huge uplift in employment tribunal claims are just some of the matters testing ER teams right now. In truth the list goes on.

Of course, this is a topic in itself – which we will continue to cover in upcoming blogs – but the critical point to make here, is that all of this is being debated within organisations large and small, and at C-suite level. A revolution is afoot.

In a growing number of forward-thinking, commercially astute firms, ER is being increasingly acknowledged for the deep-rooted impact it can have. And, armed with the right technology, HR teams will find themselves able to really triangulate the power of people, processes and systems – not just for the purpose of a ‘tick box’ exercise, but so that true change is affected across the piece.

That’s why software stacks that don’t contain or integrate considered ER functionality, will simply no longer cut the mustard.

At ESPHR, a very different employment law firm and ER technology business, we specifically built MyHRCases – a market-leading, online ER case management system which addresses the pain-points HR professionals have spoken to us about for years.

MyHRCases ensures all your critical ER cases are logged and managed in one, easy to use system. You can store and transfer crucial documents safely, assign tasks to team members, track the progress of each matter, and escalate in-house concerns to your own personal legal advisory team. It also provides you with real-time visibility over the progress of cases via advanced workflow management and detailed reporting capability on every matter.

Watch our 90-second video to discover how MyHRCases can help you to transform your ER capabilities here.

Post by Peter Byrne

Founder, esphr

Pete set up esphr in March 2003, after running an HR resource management business for three years.