As ‘96% of Senior Execs don’t think HR does enough’ – the 2017 holiday battles begin!

Guest blog by Adrian Lewis, Activ Absence

No sooner do we get back from a Christmas break, last year’s End of Year Staff Holiday Report is demanding our attention.  It’s not completed yet, but most HR teams are already seeing the first holiday requests for 2017.

Staff are tempted by the plethora of holiday adverts, and everyone is in a race to book the prime dates.

We all know when they are.  For parents, its usually making sure that they can nab the prime school holiday dates before anyone else does, and for the singletons, it’s grabbing all the available bank holiday Tuesdays to recover from a weekend of partying!

HR will be kept busy trying to regulate the in-house arguments over who placed their request first, who deserves the best dates and why as the excuses mount up.  The admin burden is just as tiresome.


The juggling starts

As HR are probably making leave decisions from their first day back, according to data from top auditors, 80% of HR Managers will be doing so using paper forms, spreadsheets or an office wall planner.  The admin burden is thankless, and as the ‘nice guys’ of the corporate world, by not demanding the tools we need, its seems ‘making do’ manually doesn’t do HR any favours.


Only 4% of senior business executives believe HR is highly effective

A recent global survey sponsored by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and the Economist Intelligence Unit found that only 4% of senior business executives surveyed believe their HR function is highly effective in addressing the needs of the business. 60% of respondents described HR’s capabilities as “adequate but needing improvement,” and another 30 percent of survey participants said “significant improvement” is required.

It’s disappointing to read that 96% of our managerial colleagues don’t believe HR is effective.  However, that does mean that 96% of them should support a request for investment in HR software.  HR cannot perform miracles on a shoestring without the tools to do the job.  Staff holiday planning is a classic example.


HR Managers are looking at better tools

In a digital age, online calendars rule our lives – even birthdays are managed with Facebook reminders, yet HR are struggling with manual staff holiday planning and procedures.   Paper is messy, important data is often lost and reporting is time consuming and disjointed. Spreadsheets often result in lost data due to human error, PC crashes and confusion.

HR Managers are not attached to these out of date processes – according to Deloitte and Touche, most HR Managers are driving change.

That’s certainly our experience as one of the UK’s leading providers of absence management software.

Activ Absence saw a huge rise of enquiries from HR Managers in December, but the main challenge for HR lies in persuading their senior colleagues who ‘don’t think HR supports the business well enough’ that HR investment is a priority.


HR deserves more support from finance

Here’s some financial arguments that may help support a request for HR software:

You will, on average,  get at least 7 holiday requests from each member of staff, which you then have to clear with their line manager, then report back to both line manager and employee.

  • In an organisation with 100 staff, that adds up to a whopping 2100 x 10 minute conversations or emails about annual leave each year plus the actual admin time in entering in the data (say 15 minutes in total – that’s 525 hours per year!
  • With multiple sites, using a manual system, someone usually has to compile data from multiple staff holiday spreadsheets into reports for the board – say 8 hours per month (we’re now at 533 hours)
  • The end of year report usually takes 5 full days work (takes us to 573 hours)
  • Work out the highly qualified HR Managers hourly rate of pay and times it by 573 – that’s what manual admin costs.  There is a cost benefit, as well as procedural improvements.

Skilled HR people are a valuable, trained resource.  Software frees up that time to maximise that resource by taking up the admin burden.

HR Managers will have more time to deploy their skills to best effect, but actually they are working hard already.  HR is critical to any business, and leave planning is a very small part that should not take up the time it does with manual systems.


What do HR Managers say about leave planning software?

HR Managers using the new generation of leave planning software are certainly keen to sing its praises:

“Activ Absence has transformed the way we manage holiday & sickness absence.  It has freed up my time dramatically and is a very welcome addition to our company.”Heather Turner, HR Manager, William Turner & Son

“Activ Absence ticks all the boxes for us and provides an overall picture of all absence. The ability for the system to meet our specific needs makes it even more valuable.” Karen Denton, Principal OD Manager, Borough Council of Wellingborough

As a provider, I’m just proud to be making a difference.  I feel some sympathy for HR Managers who worry that they have missed the boat for 2017, but that’s not the case.  If the leave requests are piling up and the panic is setting in, we’re still able to help.


If you are wondering whether a leave planning system would be a good ‘fit’ for your organisation, our customers range from employing 5 staff to 5000.  We can help most businesses – but if we can’t we’ll tell you.

My New Year message to the unsung heroes of HR, is we’re here to help the good work you do. Have a fantastic 2017 everyone.


Author: Editor

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