Life can be intense. Every day, employee dramas enter the workplace unsolicited. Some of the greatest workplace concerns we face as HR professionals, employees, and caring colleagues are making sure:Health needs are met and costs are covered as anticipated.Everyone is treated fairly by managers and co-workers, able to work without discrimination or harassment.No one makes (or must endure) threats in the workplace, idle or real.
Intentional wrongdoing, inadvertent employee mishandling, shoddy record keeping, or a manager or worker with a hidden agenda can devastate company finances, reputation, and employee morale. Noncompliance penalties, unemployment insurance, time-consuming training programs, lower productivity, and other HR costs can pull strongly on the bottom line as a result. So what can you do to:
… help staff members comply with corporate policies?
… improve confidence, trust, and satisfaction with your HR department and company?
… discourage workers from wrongdoing and prevent acts of poor judgment?
… protect your organization and its workers from engaging in and getting away with---or experiencing---harassment, unjust treatment, false accusations of such activity, or other harm?
… guard your organization against false accusations?
The answer lies in timely, complete, accurate documentation…along with the ability to organize, associate, and handle information appropriately, consistently, and quickly when you need it. The challenge: gathering it from diverse places including your HR software, document repositories, payroll systems, email, voice messages, and more, and maximizing its use everywhere it has value.
Web-accessible electronic document management (EDM) software functions like a wide-mouthed funnel, giving you access to relevant data found throughout your organization so you can retrieve it directly within your HR application. Web services integration between your HR system and EDM gives you one-click access to documents and other structured content as well as unstructured information such as emails and handwritten (scanned) correspondence. When auditors, compliance officers, or the courts demand information---or even a staff member--- EDM’s inherent indexing and search capabilities let authorized persons find what they need instantly from within your HR application. With the click of a mouse, voila!--- scattered information materializes onscreen for easy viewing, giving searchers a quick, holistic overview.
Business Process Management (BPM) complements EDM’s funnel-like efficiency, serving as a 3-D conveyor belt to push, pull, and transport information from one system to the next while complying with your rules-driven processes. Behind the scenes, it references EDM for information about your files and your processing rules, enabling smooth, secure information transfer. Stored data (such as the date of an annual performance review) is pushed and pulled wherever it’s needed, at the right time, helping people to make informed decisions and accelerating turnaround times dramatically. As people, positions, and policies change, just update the rules governing the flow of work, and BPM automatically complies, eliminating errors and simplifying the enactment of change.
EDM and BPM collaborate behind the scenes, sending information to authorized persons at the right time within standard business processes, and ensuring they can access, view, edit, approve, delete, or otherwise act on content according to pre-set permissions. By adding BPM functions to HR screens, staff can execute routine commands and act on incoming information in real time, accessing information they’re authorized to retrieve and manage within seconds. Routine processes advance quickly and efficiently.
Let’s take a closer look at two typical HR scenarios.
Stella is a new employee for a large manufacturer. At her first eye doctor checkup, she forgets whether new frames she needs are covered. Since she relocated and just started working, discretionary cash is limited. Stella needs her Vision Service Plan (VSP) details so she can decide what she can afford to purchase. Stella calls Molly, HR manager, hoping for guidance.Results using EDM and workflow:
Molly accesses Stella’s records using the HR application, which is linked to the EDM repository. With a one-click query, she sees all related documents. She reviews Stella’s contractual benefits, coverage, and co-pay requirements, including her VSP. Since everything is centrally accessible via the repository, Molly answers Stella’s questions instantly, helping Stella make an informed decision. Seconds later, Stella’s health coverage documentation is packaged and forwarded via an embedded link. Files she needs for future decisions are accessible via her secure logon.What’s going on behind the scenes:The HR application is integrated to the EDM repository, enabling instant, secure access to all pertinent documentation, correspondence, etc.A customized button on the appropriate screen in the HR application lets Molly access Stella’s benefits documents with a single mouse click.Molly informs Stella the plan will cover half the cost.Stella purchases frames she can afford.Molly chooses the appropriate benefits inquiry email template, embeds a link to the VSP and other documents, and sends the message to Stella, creating an audit trail for future questions.
Manuel works for a government agency, where he has reported harassment. He complains to Sven, the HR director, verbally. The situation escalates. Manuel is fired by his manager, Marcia, who says she dismissed him because of inadequate job performance. Manuel argues there is ethnic bias and claims his dismissal was undocumented. Allegations result in a lawsuit. The agency is subpoenaed for documentation.
Sven must demonstrate:The agency informed employees about corporate policies regularly, including grievance procedures.The grievance was heard, documented, acknowledged, and handled following written policies, including escalation procedures.Manuel’s supervisor obeyed firing policies, and gave documented warnings.Supervisor claims of inadequate performance were filed promptly, and a prompt response ensued.Results using EDM and workflow:
A detailed transactional audit trail highlights the sequence of communications and events. Emails, subsequent interviews, and other documentation from employees verify Manuel’s claims. Although his performance may have been lackluster, Manuel was fired inappropriately, and company termination policies were not followed. The court demands the agency reinstate Manuel. Marcia is reprimanded, since a review of her emails and other communications- --available via a few clicks--- underline she understood her managerial responsibilities but failed to act on them. She is moved to another position.What’s going on behind the scenes:HR software, integrated to the EDM repository, ensures instant, secure access to HR and policy documents, grievance and dismissal forms, emails, faxes, voice mails, images, and more.Manuel completes grievance forms online via an employee portal. Rules-driven eforms ensure date formats and other data are compliant and submissions are 100% complete. As he chooses his name from an employee drop-down list, contact information is extracted from the HR files and pre-fills the document. Submitting the form date/time stamps it the grievance.A face-to-face meeting is held following agency policy. Manuel signs the meeting summary, confirming agreement.Since email communications are indexed by subject line, sender, and date, pertinent messages are associated with the grievance.Documents and communications pertaining to the grievances and dismissal are indexed, enabling secure, on-demand retrieval. A digital query assembles corporate policies and relevant documentation in seconds. BPM packages and sends everything to the right person for review.Agency termination policies are associated with, and compared to, Marcia’s written communications, which fail to demonstrate just cause for firing. The court rules in Manuel’s favor.
The dramas of life vary greatly. EDM and BPM respond appropriately, ensuring people and processes are handled consistently and appropriately. Technology can’t end the ongoing challenges of life. It can, however, make the process a lot faster, easier, compliant, and more cost effective.