simple hr
HR Tools

Is simple HR even possible? If you’ve worked at a big corporation, you might think not! But smaller companies just don’t have the luxury of employing a large HR team. Often, the responsibilities of HR are just one part of someone’s role, or there might be a very lean HR team consisting of just a couple of people. Keeping HR simple is critical to ensuring the highest priority HR functions actually get done.

Here, we outline what simple HR might look like in your organization. (Of course, there’s more you could do, but get these fundamentals in place first!)

A Simple HR Employee Records Management System

When we first talk to small businesses, we find that most of them are somewhat embarrassed about their employee records management. It’s usually some combination of spreadsheets, files online, paper files sitting in a filing cabinet somewhere, and maybe some data in a payroll system or an outdated, installed HR system that barely works any more. So when a business decides they need to up their game with HR, employee records management is usually the best place to start. 

A good HR records management system should;

  • Be cloud-based so that everyone can access it (this avoids duplicate copies of things being creating and causing confusion)
  • Include all the key information your organization needs to keep track of – contact details, salaries and compensation, performance reviews, company assets that are loaned to the employee, training, certificates or other renewable documents, etc
  • You might also have custom types of data you want to collect and store – your HR records management system should be able to handle this
  • Include an employee directory that everyone can access (when your website goes down, everyone needs to know how to contact Bill from IT!)
  • Allow for granular user permissions. For example, you might want to give managers access to the employees in their departments, or everything except pay and performance information 
  • Allow you to store actual documents, not just data. Inevitably, you’ll want to store signed contracts, scans of certification and other documents. Having one place to put these simplifies your role immensely.

HR software for small business doesn’t have to be expensive either. Once you have 20 or so people, it’s really a necessity. So find a good one (or talk to us!) and you’ll soon have your employee data under control. (Many HR managers tell us, this alone just brings so much relief and reduction in workload.)

A Simple HR Process for Leave / Vacation Requests

It might sound surprising, but one of the most time-consuming parts of HR is managing everyone’s leave. Without a system in place, you’ll constantly be answering questions about how much leave someone has, how much they’ll have in the future, what dates others are taking leave, where certain employees are now, and more. Even with a fairly small team, this can get exhausting – and most of it is unnecessary.

So, decide on your process and put a simple system in place. It might be that leave needs to be approved by the line manager and then comes to HR for entering into a leave calendar. You also need to ensure your employees are empowered with information about their own leave balances. This might come from your payroll system (although these can be confusing), or a good HR system will allow employees to access this themselves.

Make Recruiting as Simple and as Time Efficient as Possible

One of the most important roles of HR is to help get the right people on the team. So while recruiting can be time-consuming and at times, monotonous, it’s something that needs to be taken very seriously!

There are, of course, great Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS’s) that can help make the recruiting process more efficient. The best ones of these will include; 

  • A kanban-style interface where you can visualize where each candidate is in the process and move them between stages. 
  • The ability to publish your open positions online – usually on your website. Ideally, this will allow you to include a customized application form so that you can collect the relevant information upfront. (If you ask the right questions here, this helps enormously with the initial screening stage.)
  • The ability to use email templates to communicate with candidates. There are usually a lot of repetitive messages that you’ll need to send, so write them once and well, then benefit from the efficiencies.
  • The ability to manually add candidates to your system – for instance, if they apply through another channel.

Whether or not you use a dedicated ATS, or an ATS included with your HR system (like HR Partner for example), you should define the job application stages you’re going to use. For example, will you do a phone interview, face-to-face interview, and then a reference check? Is there a technical test you could include as another stage? Make sure everyone goes through the same process.

You should also define the selection criteria you’ll use to make your hiring decision. This helps you (and others) to be more objective in their opinions about candidates and can increase the quality of your hires substantially.

Put a Simple Employee Onboarding System in Place

Anyone that does a lot of recruiting knows that the work doesn’t stop there! Once you’ve made a decision to employ someone, there’s usually a lot of steps to getting the new employee started and up to speed. Don’t leave this to chance or send 10 separate emails which end up being confusing for the employee! Instead, take some time to think through your employee onboarding process and then use your HR system to administer it for you. Even if you don’t use an HR system, create your own New Hire Checklist so that nothing falls through the cracks.

It’s another one of those tasks that once you’ve done the thinking, a system can make it so much more efficient for you. Plus, you’ll probably save a few trees in the process by cutting out any physical paperwork required.

Set up something basic, and then try to improve on it each time a new employee goes through it. You might even want to have several steps to your onboarding. For instance, you could have a Pre-First-Day onboarding process, a First-Week onboarding process, and another First-Month onboarding process. But start with the basics first!

Use Simple Performance Reviews – and make sure they happen!

There are so many different approaches to performance reviews, but do you know what the worst type are? Performance reviews that don’t happen.

Even if you don’t have a perfect system in place, your baseline goal is to make sure that all employees have a performance review at least once a year

If you ask managers (or employees), most people will say they dislike performance reviews, but the facts are that organizations that don’t do regular performance reviews, will usually suffer from lower morale and work satisfaction. Everyone likes to know where they stand. Having performance reviews gives everyone a chance to get more clarity about their role and their own development.

To make things easier for your managers, set up a simple template (of course, you could set up a complex template or use a dedicated performance review system but we’re trying to keep things simple here). Your template should include;

  • An outline of responsibilities
  • A summary of performance. This should include both the achievements that they’re proud of and areas for improvement. Make sure it’s clear that it’s expected that ALL employees will have both.
  • A self-assessment against the most important job or company KPI’s.
  • A description of the next goals the employee has for themselves.
  • You may want to include a section here for the manager to add their comments too.

The idea of this document is to facilitate a beneficial discussion between each employee and their manager. You may need to coach some managers on how to do this without being too negative – most of us have a tendency to focus on the areas for improvement a little too much!

Your role in HR is to provide the tools for performance reviews, and then make sure the performance reviews actually happen! Your HR system should be able to where you store previous performance reviews and remind you of when the next ones are due.

Don’t forget Simple HR Hygiene / Maintenance Factors

Another fundamental part of HR are the underpinning hygiene and maintenance factors. This will differ between industries but may include things like;

  • Health and safety
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Managing required certifications
  • Employee relations
  • Employee communications

It’s not necessarily the sexiest part of HR, but it’s probably the part that will keep you awake at night if it’s not well managed. 

A large part of this is to put in place processes for storing the relevant information and setting up reminders of when things need to be done. You might also need reports that can show you certain information (eg which employees have not done first-aid training, etc).

Keep HR Simple: You need to crawl before you walk!

Of course, there’s a lot more to Human Resources, but for most small and medium business, these are the fundamentals that should be in place first. Once you’ve got these humming along, then you can start looking into;

  • Training and development
  • Rewards and compensation planning
  • Benefits and perks
  • Successful planning, and more

Human Resources is a fascinating field with many nuances and specialities. However, smaller businesses usually don’t have the capacity to go to these sorts of lengths. If your company has grown from just being a handful of people where a dedicated HR function is not really necessary, to a mid-sized company, you need some simple HR strategies and processes that you can easily put in place. We hope this guide helps you focus and prioritize those core HR areas.

Time Tracking Without Employees Feeling Micromanaged
Company CultureHR Tools

It can be challenging finding a balance between tracking employee time and giving staff members complete time management autonomy. On the one hand, tracking and scrutinizing employee time can make staff feel policed. On the other hand, daily time tracking can decrease productivity leaks by 80%. Fortunately, there is a middle ground. To help you out, we’ve put together four things you can do when beginning a time tracking program to prevent your employees from feeling micromanaged.

1. Explain the Value of Time Tracking

It’s easy to tell your team members to track their time. However, it’s extremely challenging to get employees on board and motivate them to carefully track their tasks every day. Your employees may say that time tracking is tiresome, reduces productivity, and is inconvenient. Hence, the primary concerns you need to address are the emotional issues. Without clear communication, employees may believe that time tracking is a way to impose management’s unrealistic goals and high expectations, which can result in a lot of fear, stress, and anxiety.

Upper management can combat the fears related to time tracking by communicating the value it brings. Begin by explaining the reasons behind the time tracking tool and why it’s essential. For example, if your organization is charging clients by the hour, you need to explain how productivity while clocked in, is vital to the company’s success. Or if you have projects billed at a fixed price, you can tell your employees how your company’s profit margins work. It’s a great way to introduce the cost of productivity leaks to your organization and how you can work together to reduce time-consuming, mundane work. You can take it a step further by showing employees that your own time will be tracked as well, emphasizing that it will be a tool for awareness rather than enforcement.

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2. Onboard Your Team

As business consultant Dan Steiner explains, writing for the Huffington Post, “If you do decide to bring time tracking into the workplace, it’s important to take the right approach to avoid upsetting your employees.” 

The first communication to employees about your planned time tracking system plays a critical role in setting the tone. To begin, consider calling a general team meeting to introduce the time tracking tool. 

In the meeting, you can explain why it’s necessary to track time and communicate its benefits. For example, since 80% of workplace interruptions have little or no value, you can go into detail about how it will help in reducing interruptions and unnecessary tasks at work. 

It’s also an excellent opportunity to explain how your organization leverages the data it collects, emphasizing that you won’t scrutinize employees’ time and micromanage everyone’s work schedule.

Finally, explain the other tools that will become available along with the time tracking features of the system that will make life easier for employees. For example, explain how the system will save them time by automatically calculating their timecards for payroll, and how it will make it easier for them to request and track paid time off.


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During the onboarding process, you should also include a demo. By going through the step-by-step instructions to install and use the time tracker, everyone can understand how it works, and how they can implement time tracking into their daily schedules. The meeting and demo will allow everyone to get on the same page, ask any questions, and ensure that your team is on board.

3. Make it Easy and Convenient 

Don’t expect team members to begin adopting time tracking immediately. Employees need to try it out before it can become a daily habit. You want to make the process as easy as possible. After introducing the time tracking tool and having employees try it out, integrate the tool into your team’s workflow.

You can start by encouraging your team members to track their time using the device they use the most. For example, for software developers, since they’re often on their desktop computer, you can recommend a time tracking desktop app. Sales teams, who are often on the go, meeting with clients, can track their activities via a mobile app. As for creative team members who are always on-site but may not be at their desk, they can track their activities on their iPads.

4. Offer Rewards and Create a Positive Experience

While it’s easy to create harsh consequences for those who don’t track their time, it’s more effective if you introduce the time tracking tool as a new positive experience for the team. Motivate and encourage your team to recognize the benefits of time tracking on an individual, group, and organizational level.

A great way to create a positive experience is to gamify the experience. Help people help themselves. Ensure each team member sets personal goals around focus, procrastination, and eliminating distractions. Along with personal achievements, you can also implement a reward system for your whole organization. For example, if in the first week everyone uses the time tracker at least once a day, the team is rewarded with a small company outing. These outings can include a happy hour after work, an office party, or a company lunch at an up-and-coming cafe in town.

If there’s a standout performer, you should also recognize them for their efforts. David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom at Forbes noted that “Recognition is the number one thing employees say their manager could give them to inspire them to produce great work.” 

It’s important to make sure employees don’t associate time tracking with a negative experience. Don’t punish people or publicly shame them through email or in-person if they forget to time track or do it incorrectly. Negative reinforcement will breed frustration and resentment.

If you want to introduce a time tracking tool to your organization without resistance or stress, make sure you follow the four tips above. Explain the importance and purpose of the tracking tool, onboard every team member, make it easy and convenient, and create a positive experience by offering rewards and recognition when team members perform well. This will help you set a course that will ensure you win over your team’s trust before moving forward. 

If you found this article useful, please share it with your social network!

Author Bio

Dean Mathews is the founder and CEO of OnTheClock, an online employee time tracking app that helps over 8,000 companies all around the world track time. 

Dean has over 20 years of experience designing and developing business apps. He views software development as a form of art. If the artist creates a masterpiece, many peoples lives are touched and changed for the better. 

When he is not perfecting time tracking, Dean enjoys spending time with family, friends and finding ways to make the world just a little better. You can find Dean on LinkedIn.

Paperless HR
HR Tools

The rapid advancement in digital technology has made it easy for small businesses to go paperless and get rid of piles of HR-related paperwork. So now, the real struggle is not to reduce paper usage, as that has already been done.

Instead, the daunting challenge is about how to eliminate paper completely, especially in the HR division, for the simple reason this department is always engaged in activities that demand a lot of paper usage. From providing appointment letters to new employees and sharing with them a paper-based company handbook to ensuring smooth onboarding, paper forms a crucial element of the HR function. 

What Do Statistics Say?

This is what stats have to say on paper consumption and paper waste. According to The World Counts, companies operating in the US use 12.1 trillion sheets of paper every year. This is even after companies embracing technology for carrying out their business process. Surprising isn’t it?

This massive use of paper for trivial everyday tasks is not only costly and increases paper waste, but also is detrimental for the environment at large. Statistics show that 5,589 large publicly traded companies in the US produced 342 million metric tons of waste and sent it to landfills and incinerators in 2014. In light of this, the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation rolled out a report titled, “Trash to Treasure: Changing Waste Streams to Profit Streams” to make companies aware of the business value of adopting the paper recycling approach. 

Despite the widespread adoption of digital technology, such is the extent to which paper is being used and wasted even today. This calls for a drastic change – to not just reduce paper usage but to fully eliminate it. You can start this from your HR division to make sure the paperless trend quickly percolates down to other departments as well. 

A completely paperless workspace will make the hectic and humdrum tasks of your HR team, a smooth sail. No more filing cabinets and managing employee information on paper, when you have better and tech-friendly methods at your disposal. This will not only make a more sophisticated office but also reduce the cost incurred on paper, printers, and shredders. Technology-rich, super efficient and highly engaging – This is what the near future of workspace looks like. 

Paperless HR

Here Is a 6-Step Guide to Help You Eliminate Paper Usage at Your Workplace

1. Make E-Signatures Mandatory

It’s hilarious that we fill a form online, get it printed, sign it, and again scan it back into the system; something HR managers tend to do almost every day. Why not remove the printing part altogether with e-signatures? If we are going digital, we better make ourselves full digitalized. Using e-signatures can ease out the work of your HR staff to a great extent. 

There are some documents, especially those that are employee-related,  that require the signatures of your HR managers. Imagine signing over 1,000 different documents in a day! It’s literally a task. But why fret, when you have electronic signatures at hand. But, you need to be careful as every country has its own laws for e-signatures. Adobe provides a complete list of laws pertaining to electronic signatures in various countries. If you are thinking of implementing digital signatures in your organization, make sure that you go through your country’s IT laws.   

2. Switch to E-Forms, E-Contracts and E-Resumes

Employee recruitment and onboarding is one area where a lot of paperwork is required. Applicant resumes, legal forms, health-related medical forms, and other relevant documents of employees are usually in the form of paper, which makes it cumbersome for HR teams to manage and store them safely. The fact that these documents are necessary to maintain makes the task even more important.  How to make this task relatively easier and manageable? 

Digitizing the process is the perfect solution. While recruiting new employees, especially, ask them to email their resumes, scanned copies of identity proofs, and other important documents.  Create an online library wherein you can store all these documents for easy access when required. Even if your office has already gone paperless, there is always some paperwork that takes place while hiring new employees. To avoid that, switch to online application forms and digital resumes to ensure that there is zero paperwork.  

Thanks to the increasing inclination towards digitization, online onboarding software has become extremely popular. It helps your HR team manage employee records and files effortlessly. New employees can review, fill, and sign the papers online, and your HR managers can have such details safe and secure for as long as they need it. This also saves your staff from manually transferring data into the system, which has a significant chance of wrong data entries. 

3. Phase-out Printers and Fax Machines

A critical step in going completely paperless is to phase out all the printers and fax machines. The logic is simple. If there is no hard copy generating machine at the workplace, print outs cannot be generated! Strategically plan how to get away with these machines. 

Create a multi-phase-out plan that includes easy and effective steps to halt their use. Machines that are not so frequently used can be removed without a second thought. But, in case, there are printer devices, which are used regularly and phasing them out suddenly might hamper the work of your employees, then it’s best to adopt some other way to reduce their usage. You can probably place them at a location, which is inconvenient for your employees. 

4. Insist on E-Receipts from Service Providers

The next thing you must do is inform all your service providers about you going paperless. Contact your contractors and tell them about your initiative. Ask for e-receipts and make it crystal clear that paper receipts won’t be accepted. Once you get into this practice, paperwork will be entirely out of the picture. No manual handling of receipts, no confusion, and no need to devote extra space to keep receipts. All you need to do is make a folder in your system and store all your receipts at a single place.  

Once your HR division starts following this practice, it will set an excellent example for other departments as well, and soon you will see a similar change across your organization. Showcase the benefits of e-receipts to all your customer-facing teams and encourage them to follow suit so that there is a uniformity in transition. 

5. Switch to Cloud 

Storing all information on the cloud has various benefits – easy access, multiple device compatibility, enhanced security, and much more. Since your HR team constantly have to deal with a lot of information, switching to the cloud is a wise idea to ease out their work. A cloud-based HR documentation software tool can streamline your HR operations by helping you to create a single online knowledge repository where they can store information easily. Retrieving information becomes a matter of a click, once you have your online HR document ready. 

Creating an online document for your HR team is extremely easy, provided you use the right software. If you are looking for a robust tool, make sure that you look for some specific features like a text editor, roles & permissions, customization and branding options, security-related features, etc. You will find similar software online, which can make the task of selecting a single one, quite challenging. To avoid this, you can go for trial versions of a software tool to know how it works and how it can help you simplify your HR-related tasks. 

6. Streamline HR Operations with an HRMS 

Small firms are always on a hiring spree, as rapid growth both in terms of business and people is what they look out for. This means that your employee strength will keep on increasing, as you keep hiring new people for your firm. Now, managing this growing employee strength is a challenge. Right from their attendance and leave requests to providing them with timely payslips and keeping them informed of major events, is essential. With a powerful HRMS tool, these seemingly tedious tasks become a mere cakewalk, as your HR managers don’t have to put in manual effort in managing employees. 

Today, everything can be done online in a snap. Such a system is even beneficial for employees, as it eliminates the need for emailing or directly reaching out to colleagues for information. Besides, it also empowers your employees with self-service, meaning, they can directly browse through the HRMS to get information on anything, be it their log-in and log-out timings, their application status for particular office activity, reimbursement on a recent official trip and much more. 

Transitioning from paper-based to completely paperless is difficult and might take time, but given the enormous benefits it offers, all your efforts will be worth it. Also, while you are transitioning, don’t let it go unnoticed. Make an official announcement across your organization about this initiative and set an example for other divisions. Make employees aware of how this big move will benefit them and encourage them to get rid of paper completely for two significant reasons, first to boost productivity at work and second, to save the environment. 

Vacation and sick leave tracking software
HR Tools

Are you an HR manager or small business owner looking for vacation & sick time tracking software? If you’re looking to streamline your HR and manage employee time off by keeping everything in one place, it’s important to choose the right tool for your business.

More importantly, you need something that will scale with your business.

Here’s the thing: Employee leave tracking tools can save you a ton of time, but it’s important to know what to look for. Do you want something barebones and basic, or would you prefer a tool that will be flexible enough to grow with your company?

When it comes to HR software, it’s important to keep in mind that leave accrual, holiday and employee leave tracking, sick leave tracking, and employee record management are all very important.

In other words, it’s important to have clear records in place that you can reference later.

To avoid wasting time, it’s best to choose a cloud-based tool that can support your company’s requirements with ease (because let’s face it — you already have a million other things to worry about!).

Here are a few things you should look for when selecting the right HRIS to help your small business track sick time and employee leave:

The Ability to Set Employee Leave Entitlements & Track Balances

If your small business is looking for a way to set employee leave entitlements, you probably already know that spreadsheets are only helpful for so long.

Spreadsheets, email, and paper files can suck up days (if not weeks) of lost time — not to mention these methods are prone to manual error!

The easier way? Cloud HR software that can easily handle employee sick time and holiday tracking.

Automatic Leave Accrual

Forget about employee leave tracking calculators or spreadsheets.

After all, you’re busy enough as is!

The best HR tools out there allow for automatic leave accrual out of the box.

This means that with the right cloud tool, you’ll be able to specify the amount of time off you want to give each employee (or you can choose in bulk).

This means that after setting this up, you won’t have to worry about making those calculations manually — it’s all done for you in the system.

Think about all of the things you could do with that free time!

Support for Different Types of Employee Absences

There are a variety of leave and absence types you may be tracking for employees: Annual leave, maternity leave, sick and carer’s leave, compassionate & bereavement leave, long service leave, community service leave, and more.

With so many different leave types to keep track of, it’s crucial to choose a tool that will allow you the opportunity to add multiple leave types.

Keep Track of Time Off Using Hours or Days

While most HR systems are able to handle full day absences no problem, what happens when an employee needs to take a half day off?

This is a common scenario, so it’s important that your HR system can handle these situations without a hitch.

You will want the ability to record their absence in the system, which means your HR system will need to be flexible enough to allow for partial days as well as full.

Employee Self-Service Option

Does your small business currently have a hard time keeping leave requests tidy and organised?

Has a leave request ever slipped through the cracks?

Well, if it hasn’t happened already, consider yourself lucky!

As any business grows, it becomes increasingly more important to put processes in place that will handle things like employee leave requests.

With the right processes in place, you can easily streamline holiday requests and sick time at your company without losing time in the process.

By implementing an employee self-service option, your employees will have the convenience of being able to login from any device to view their available time off balance, submit leave requests to their managers, and (if you choose) see who is on leave (and when).

A cloud-based solution offers plenty of flexibility for both managers and employees. Enterprise companies have been using cloud software for years, and luckily small businesses are now able to enjoy the many benefits of cloud software, too.

Employee Vacation Calendar

Have you ever been so busy that you had to double check and see whether or not someone was still on leave?

If the answer is yes, then you already know it’s not fun to search through your inbox or desk to find those exact dates.

Or maybe you’ve experienced another common scenario: Your employees are submitting vacation requests without knowing whether or not their time off request conflicts with another employee’s.

Yep, not having a calendar to track employee time off and holiday can quickly become a pain. And it only gets worse as your company grows!

That’s why having a leave calendar in place can save a lot of time in the long-run — you can see who is in and out on any given day, week, or month.

With HR Partner, your leave and absence calendar is already baked in. You can also sync this calendar to Google Calendar or Outlook to make things even easier.

employee leave tracking calendar

The Ability to Generate Leave & Absence Reports

Many companies create absence and leave reports on a monthly basis to get a clear view of what’s going on.

Much of the time, this means spending hours at a desk working with time-consuming spreadsheets — or worse — paper files!

The right HRIS can save you weeks of time every year by helping you generate these reports in a matter of seconds (with just the click of a button).

Upfront OR Incremental Leave Options

leave accruals

Whether you allow leave to be taken upfront or it is dispersed over time, your vacation and absence management software should cater to all scenarios with ease.

Ready to start saving time by exploring vacation & sick time tracking software?

What HR Partner users have to say: “I have just completed the audit. I showed them your application and explained how its fits in with the HR aspect of my business, and they were blown away.” -Jonas M., Perth Healthcare and Support Enterprise.

Looking for employee sick & leave tracking software? Try a free trial today so that you can finally breathe and stop worrying about your HR business processes.