Our Thoughts

Check out our latest views and thoughts

Five top tips for successfully implementing employee self-service portals

The popularity of employee self-service (ESS) and manager self-service (MSS) systems to aid several human resource (HR) functions is growing. From updating personal information, accessing certain payroll information and managing leave requests, ESS and MSS systems are helping to introduce more autonomy to the workplace. The new systems also help to create a greater sense of ownership over tasks and promote operational efficiencies for businesses across the country. With their growing popularity pushing these programmes forward, how can decision-makers successfully implement ESS and MSS portals to achieve change for good?

1. Cost/benefit analysis

One of the most important aspects for achieving change for good is undertaking a cost/benefit analysis as part of a due diligence process.

This analysis should be one of the first steps decision-makers take towards implementing any change, specifically when implementing ESS and/or MSS systems. To properly ensure that budgets are being spent effectively, an in-depth review should be conducted to help emphasise areas of priority, ensuring that functionality can be rolled out in line with these key areas.

2. Transparent communication

While decision makers should be prepared to meet a certain level of resistance, consistent and transparent communication can help. When introducing more visible and auditable policies that involve sensitive HR and payroll information it’s important to remember that employee satisfaction should remain a priority, and that consistent, clear communication will ensure employees feel recognised as an integral part of the change process, increasing ‘buy in’ to the new system from the beginning.

3. Planning and testing

Thorough planning and testing throughout the change process is vital to ensure a smooth transition of systems with minor to no technical errors. To allow for this, additional time should be considered during the planning process to ensure all elements of the software run smoothly. To support this, a specific sample group could be created with the purpose of error testing the software and feeding back on any potential issues. Taking this extra time to ensure all software runs smoothly should reduce any technical errors during implementation amongst the wider workforce.

4. Employee training

It should not be assumed that every employee or manager will have the knowledge to use the new self-service portal. To increase the chances of a smooth transition to the new system, decision-makers are advised to ensure training is provided to every employee or manager, with the possibility of a more in-depth training session for anyone that feels extra support is needed. Providing this support will encourage employees to engage with and utilise the new systems in a positive manner, mitigating the risk of them not using the technology out of nervousness or feelings of intimidation.

5. Prepare for change

When implementing new employee working systems, remaining open to the possibility of change in the future is key. What works for staff now may not be the most effective method of working in the future, and decision-makers should remain agile to the changing needs of their workforce. Consistent research into other companies and a thorough understanding of the needs of their own workforce will help to determine whether a current system is working or if it needs to change. This deep insight will also keep a company ahead of the curve and ensure that decision makers are able to provide their staff with modern, efficient solutions as working patterns adapt and change over time.

Introducing new employee self-service portals may initially seem like a daunting task, however the benefits for both employers and employees are plentiful. As technology develops, employers should be looking to adopt these advancements to improve existing working practices and drive efficiencies, which provide additional benefits such as a reduction in costs and labour, increased employee satisfaction and therefore a growth in staff retention, resulting in a tangible change for good.

How to successfully manage an office revamp

The increase in hybrid working has led to many organisations reassessing their property strategy and the way in which the workplace is being used. But how can a business or organisation ensure that their office revamp not only runs smoothly but also uses the space to best effect?

Office space requirements

There was a time when personal work areas and large amounts of space were needed to fit entire workforces on site. However, the current rise of hybrid working has changed how office space is utilised. When considering an office revamp, decision-makers need to examine which areas of a project require face-to-face contact, which tasks lend themselves to home or office working and whether employees will use the office to work independently or as part of a team. By understanding employee needs and deciding how spaces will be used organisations will have a better understanding of how to make the most out of their space.

Invest in modern IT systems

Digital connectivity is essential for ensuring employees can properly carry out work from both in and out of the office, and employers should ensure staff are appropriately equipped with the right technology. With the hybrid working approach growing in popularity, many employers have used this as an opportunity to take steps to improve and modernise their existing IT infrastructure. Investing in modern workplace software will provide employees with digital team collaboration and encourage group work, without the need for constant face-to-face contact, decreasing the amount of time employees spend in the office.

Hybrid working patterns

In order to eliminate inefficiently used space, it’s important for decision makers to initiate a clear model of working, setting out direct expectations to the workforce of exactly where and how they are expected to work going forward. Whether this be working in the office one day a week to working in the office full-time. By considering the requirements of the space, it’s important to implement structured working patterns. This will help to eliminate the possibility of unused or impractical use of space and provide clarity for employees. For larger organisations, it may help to split office days between teams, allowing for equal amounts of face-to-face contact, whilst occupying a smaller office space.

Hybrid working difficulties

Communicating with employees to determine what works for them may be beneficial to employers to work out whether a hybrid approach will suit them. For staff struggling to work from home, provisions should be made to ensure there are permanent spaces available for those who choose to make the daily commute and should be considered when sourcing new office space.

Remaining open to internal business change

It is crucial for employers to understand that no one has perfected this new way of working and that they may even feel the need for more change after an office revamp. Recent years have shown that organisations should be prepared for the possibility of changing methods of working almost instantaneously, although most likely not to the same extent as the 2020 pandemic. Regular research into how other organisations are implementing agile working and updating methods as required could help employers who feel a business transformation is needed. Communication with the workforce will also allow employers to see if and where change for good may need to be made in future.

For employers to reap the benefits of an office revamp they need to understand exactly what is required from an office space whilst ensuring the needs of the workforce are also met. Investing in modern IT and assessing workforce needs are just some ways to ensure an increase in efficiency and productivity amongst staff, whilst regular industry research and communication with employees will create a better working environment.

Top five tips for tackling NHS capacity challenges and patient waiting lists

While normality is returning post-pandemic, the NHS has been left with a waiting list of 6.1 million people for non-urgent operations. Two years’ worth of stress on NHS staff has meant that workforce wellbeing has reached crisis point in some areas. Effective workforce management will be key to tackling the backlog and easing the pressure on staff. But how can this be implemented?

1. Understand capacity

Insight and data are key. Developing a clear understanding of the current workforce capacity within the various specialities and comparing this with service requirements will highlight pain points and quantify the shortage of resources. Many factors will influence this, such as:

  • National specialty guidelines
  • Volumes of patients
  • Local geography
  • Patient demographics

2. Modelling workforce options

Workforce modelling, as part of a job planning processes, involves assessing staffing requirements and testing various solution scenarios. It enables clinicians to articulate the requirement and helps to keep a clear focus on the needs of patients and workforce. Balancing benefits and costs are integral to this process.

Looking at the availability of consultants could help determine whether additional people are required or whether they are just needed at a weekend. This could help balance the costs of recruiting new staff and ensure the right mix of weekday and weekend doctors. Other important aspects to consider are the location of staff and how consultants’ caseloads vary depending on their specialty.

3. Avoid single points of failure

Preventing pinch points within the workplace is vital. By creating a process-orientated culture alongside a people-focused approach should reduce single points of failure.

For example, currently, common practice is for all staff calling in sick to phone a single ward manager. As a result the ward manager is then responsible for filling staffing gaps. An improvement to this process could be the creation of a central team for handling longer-term sickness absences. This would then free up the ward manager’s capacity for handling immediate patient issues.

4. Understand that change is personal

The relaxation of pandemic-related restrictions across the UK means that many areas of life are getting back to some kind of normality. However this is not the case for the NHS. Capacity issues mean that workers are constantly in firefighting mode, and the impact of this cannot be underestimated.

When driving forward transformation, it’s vital to recognise that change is extremely personal and can affect members of staff in different ways. Rather than simply presenting people with new processes and procedures, it’s important to engage workers to find out more about their personal challenges. Consequently these can inform a solution that suits them. This includes finding ways of working with people that are convenient and aren’t overly disruptive to their day-to-day, already pressurised work.

5. Collaborate with other teams

Collaboration with finance teams can help unlock additional capacity within NHS trusts. Working together closely enables staff delivering patient care to develop a deeper understanding of the complex financial structures of NHS trusts. This collaboration can also help to keep costs under control. By adopting a people-focused approach, NHS trusts can improve patient care while reducing costs and pressure on staff.

To learn more about how we are helping businesses with change challenges and how we can help you, get in touch.

https://unsplash.com/photos/WxRd7byFxs4

Eman Al-Hillawi on five steps to a more diverse consulting industry

Gender bias is something that many women, including myself, experience throughout their consulting careers. While this problem won’t be addressed overnight, focusing on the five areas below will help women to overcome common obstacles and rise to the top of the consulting industry:

1. Create a supportive network of female advocates

As it can already be more challenging for women to achieve success in the consultancy world, they need to work together and support each other. Having access to experienced female mentors, for example, through schemes such as the Santander Women Business Leaders’ Mentoring Programme, is also vital.

2. Encourage women to share negative experiences

Speaking out about experiences of gender bias and similar challenges promotes solidarity and enables women to receive advice from those who have been in their shoes. This would have been hugely valuable to me at the start of my career, when I often felt overlooked when in the company of my male co-founder (through no fault of his own!).

3. Tackle ‘imposter syndrome’

Building confidence is crucial to overcoming ‘imposter syndrome’, a common problem experienced by women in business. To do this, they need to focus on pushing themselves out of their comfort zone, while learning to trust their professional voice and talent.

4. Leverage the benefits of flexible working

Flexible working has already had a positive impact on people’s work-life balance but it’s important to keep building on these changes for the benefit of women’s careers. It’s now easier for women and men to manage family responsibilities alongside work commitments and through a focus on outputs rather than hours at our laptops, we can all get more out of our day and a healthier work-life balance.

5. Break taboos around medical issues

Breaking taboos around challenges posed by medical issues, such as the menopause, is vital to break biases in business. In order to build a strong culture of empathy and solidarity, we need to educate all areas of the industry about the challenges involved in health-related issues.

To help accelerate the progression of rising female consulting stars, we need to encourage close collaboration, while focusing on women’s capabilities and experience. By encouraging them to discuss their experiences, promoting the importance of mentoring and leveraging the benefits of flexible working, we can achieve a more diverse and rewarding consulting industry for everyone.

To learn more about how to kickstart your consultancy career at Entec Si, visit here.

Challenging change management myths

Change and business go hand in hand, however, the people side of change can present challenges. As a process surrounded by misconceptions, how can businesses overcome the myths that surround change management?

1. Make sure everyone is on the same page

People naturally fear change. Whether caused by previous experiences or approaches, this means teams can be resistant to the process. However, for transformation to be successful, employees must be on board, otherwise things can go awry and impact the whole business.

2. Explain the purpose of change

Change can be a powerful tool for good, with the potential to take an organisation to where it needs to go. As a result, job cuts are often not involved and change projects can deliver benefits for people across the business.

3. Communicate clearly with teams

Clear communication and engagement with employees are vital, as they are the ones who will be impacted by change. Keeping them informed, being understanding about their concerns, and providing support and training should be a priority. Similarly, demonstrating care for teams in this way can lead to more employee buy-in and improvements to company culture, such as increased flexibility, preparedness and agility.

4. Understand the mental impact of change

Change can impact people’s wellbeing, so it’s important to be able to recognise change fatigue. By tailoring their change approach, businesses can identify how people are impacted in different ways, and ensure employees are supported.

Change is an inevitable part of business life. In order that it’s kept positive, businesses need to demystify what it means for employees. Through communication, clarity and effective change management, decision-makers can ensure their business delivers ‘change for good’.

Want to learn more about change management, contact us.

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

How to put communities at the centre of change

Collaboration with communities is a key way for local authorities to boost engagement and improve their services. Here are our top tips for how they can switch to a more collaborative approach:

1. Address the big issues

Financial pressures, challenges created by the pandemic, and the need to achieve net-zero, are at the front of everyone’s minds. Not only should local authorities focus on improving their local area, but they should also engage with communities to address the issues that impact everyone. This way, goals can be met more effectively and efficiently, including addressing ongoing budget pressures.

2. Use local knowledge

By reaching out to residents before going ahead with plans for a new project or initiative, local authorities can be sure that time and money are being put towards services that will truly benefit the community. Communities will also be more receptive to change if they are engaged with throughout the process.

3. Know the community

Effective engagement isn’t possible without knowing the ins and outs of the local people. Accurate data about the community’s demographics can make sure services are more targeted. Furthermore this means underrepresented groups are catered for.

4. Find the right balance

While communicating with local people is vital, too much consultation can lead to them feeling overwhelmed, and therefore becoming less willing to engage. Subsequently, by listening to the right people at the right time, this can be avoided.

5. Manage expectations

People want to know exactly what is being done with their feedback and how it will feed into service improvement. As such, it’s important to communicate this from the outset whenever sending out a survey or holding a consultation.

6. Make the most of resources available

Lack of budget is a challenge for many local authorities. Therefore to ensure the maximum value is gained from collaboration, it’s essential to make the most of all available assets and resources. For example, this might involve expanding the remit of a library to include information and volunteering centres.

Working alongside local people and communities can help authorities to make more informed decisions, and in turn improve the lives of those in the community. By keeping communication open and honest, and addressing concerns when needed, a perfect partnership can be created.

For more information, contact Peter Marsden or Julie Smith here.

Photo by Benjamin Elliott on Unsplash

Let's start a conversation!

Contact us at info@entecsi.com