10 Years of Being a People-Person

Adrian Lewis, Commercial Director for Activ Absence offers his perspective on working in HR software for 10 years:

adrianOld age is good, and whilst I won’t tell you how many birthdays I’ve had, our company is ten this year.  I’m proud to be here and to have a great team of people who work for us.  In fact, life in general is good, the first major holiday of the season kicked us into Spring last weekend – and we finally have the sunny weather in Wales to match (which I can assure you has been a long time coming!).

As the individual who manages staff holiday planning in our business, I can testify that a little bit of sunshine does wonders for increasing leave requests.  I’m luckier than most – as Commercial Director of a software business that offers leave planning and absence management software, I’m able to approve or reject leave requests with a single click.

I haven’t forgotten the old days of spreadsheets though, and I’m always impressed by HR Managers who still juggle spreadsheets and paper forms.  They somehow manage the intrusive phone calls and resolve the annual leave disputes without dropping any balls!  In a digital age with online calendars, where even birthdays are managed with Facebook reminders, its a little concerning that many of our largest businesses use spreadsheets and paper to manage holiday, leaving HR Managers stressed and with little or no analytics.

Paper is messy, important data often goes missing and the reporting is practically non-existent.  Added to that, spreadsheets are only as good as the person managing them – and even the most efficient managers have bad days.  In fact, some of the funniest stories I’ve heard resulted through spreadsheet mistakes.

Without the right tools, staff holiday planning can be a stressful business for the person who takes ownership of it.  In my ten years here, and in my career before. I’ve witnessed more stressed HR Managers than you can imagine, whether they are stuck with no fork lift truck driver because two managers approved the same leave on paper forms, or having to order agency staff ahead of bank holidays because they know people will phone in sick.

It goes without saying that I think our HR software is great, but far more important to me over the ten years we’ve been trading is the fact that I go home at night knowing we’ve been able to make a huge impact on people’s working lives.

Think about it:

  • Each staff member typically takes 7 different holiday occasions per year, meaning that with 200 staff, an HR Manager will deal with a whopping 1400 leave requests every year.
  • Each request will typically need to be authorised by a line manager, and entered on to the ‘holiday spreadsheet’.  That’s of course, after each employee has called to check what leave allowance they have left, usually before they book.
  • In an organisation with 200 staff, that adds up to 2800 x 10 minute conversations or emails about annual leave each year: 28000 minutes of your life you can’t get back
  • Any errors sap more time and there is no reportability
  • As an extra thank you, there’s a huge report to do at the end of the year
  • Staff get frustrated if you can’t reply immediately

With one simple piece of Software, our business solves all of those challenges and their staff love it too – and it certainly costs less than 28000 minutes of an HR Manager’s time.  You are probably thinking “He just wants to sell software”.  Of course, I want us to do well, but I’m more interested in going home at night knowing I made a difference.

I’m not in the software business, I’m very much in the people business – helping people plan better, whether that’s staff holiday, managing sickness absence, enabling people to manage flexible workers, managing appraisals or managing staff documents – and every new release means we’re doing even more to help.

We’re currently running our annual survey and one customer said: “in the HR function it proves invaluable to have absence information so readily available.”  How could I not feel good about that?

There’s a ‘human’ behind every Human Resources Professional, and this holiday season, I can’t help but smile knowing that somewhere, today, our software made their lives easier.

Author: Editorial Team

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