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Creating a workplace where HR technology is accessible to all – tech savvy or not!

Founded in 2017, elementsuite is a UK-based HRIS vendor, that is transforming the employee HR experience in this new digital revolution where simplicity and flexibility is a pre-requisite and not an afterthought.

How we all interact with technology has changed and hugely accelerated as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic, and I was intrigued to learn more about the future of HR software and how it can truly help and support HR professionals and employees going forward.

Who better to ask than our HR Ninjas HRIS partner, so I set up an interview with Angela, one of the original co-founders at elementsuite.

Speaking to Angela, she had confessed that while elementsuite was officially founded in 2017, it had actually been in the making for over 20 years. She explains that “Deciding to invest and build our own HR software, came mainly from the frustration of working with difficult to use and inflexible HR systems, it drove us mad!  So, with an awesome team of HR technologists, elementsuite was born”

Our mission – Using tech to empower colleagues

I wanted to find out more about what makes elementsuite truly employee centric, so I asked Angela to share her views:

“Our mission was to create a workplace where HR technology was accessible to all. Reaching hourly paid/front line workers and non-tech savvy employees, we wanted to empower all employees to take control of their work life, all from the palm of their hands via their mobile phone”.

“The timing was right, the mobile revolution had arrived and we grasped the opportunity to build elementsuite with the employee experience at the forefront.  This new way of thinking was so different to many HR systems, where the employee experience was more of a ‘bolt-on’, or after-thought, and so historically the systems were not fully adopted by employees”.

“Simplification was key. With employees becoming overwhelmed by different systems, we knew one login for everything was of paramount importance. The employee experience must ‘look and feel’ like the company they work for, and of course, no training should be required for end users. We also wanted to ensure that elementsuite was flexible and agile, to cope with the demands of businesses and outside influences – so we built it with that in mind too.”

Angela was excited to explain that: “The ultimate accolade came, when we were selected and went live with McDonald’s UK – with over 135,000 employees.  This was, at the time, one of the biggest cloud HRIS software deployments in the UK. McDonald’s remit was aligned with our mission – to deploy an HR system that ‘puts their people first’.  They wanted to reinvent the employee experience, make it simple and easy for all crew members. Whether signing their contract, undertaking training prior to their start date, to accessing/updating their HR personal data and viewing their payslips – all of this needs to be undertaken via their mobile device. And of course, it should be so intuitive that no training is required. elementsuite is also used as the gateway to other systems. Once signed into elementsuite, users don’t have to worry about their other usernames or passwords for other systems.” Find out more here

COVID-19 and the shift in HR technology

Curious to understand how the pandemic has affected what employees want from their HR system, I asked Angela to share her insights:

“Undoubtedly, COVID has changed the world.  For many employees it gave them the opportunity to think about what they wanted from both their personal and work life,’’ says Angela. She adds that, “to retain and recruit top talent, companies have to move away from the top down, old school and directive management, towards a collaborative, team working approach where everyone has a voice. HR technology, if done right, can really facilitate this cultural change in the workplace.’’

The beauty of elementsuite is that it can be accessed from anywhere, anytime, any device. So, if a colleague wants to swap shifts, advise their Manager of their upcoming work availability, or simply check their holiday and payslip, it’s all there on their phone.  Alternatively, if a manager wants to request a new team vacancy or publish the upcoming weeks rota…. Or, if HR wants to view overall labour turnover, salaried vs variable hours/costs – it’s all there in real-time to hand.

“From a front line worker perspective, HR systems now need to connect more deeply with people, offering transparency and flexibility. From 2-way communication channels that connect people across the business, to allowing employees to view & book holiday entitlement, view and change their working shifts, view upcoming training opportunities and their performance and career progression – this all has to be available via their mobile device.” She continues on to explain that “this allows front line workers to take charge of their working life, and understand the key role they play in the success of the business.”

HR Tech for busy Managers that are ‘on the move’

To empower our employees to take ownership we do need to make accessing their HR information more accessible. But, it’s not just employees who use the system, is it? So I followed up to enquire about how HR system priorities and requirements have shifted for people managers, post-pandemic.

“From a Manager’s perspective, a HR system needs to provide visibility and transparency across an increasingly remote and or flexible workforce. This is achieved by automating alerts and approvals (e.g. for absence approvals or swapping shifts), and reminders for key legislative compliance – such as right to work expiry etc.” She adds that “having dashboards that highlight areas that need attention, gives busy Managers the peace of mind that nothing has slipped through the net, and helps them to manage their people whilst ‘on the move’.”

People Analytics – No Maths degree required!

Our conversation then continued on towards the increasing importance of people analytics. In many cases, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of HR technology, which Angela highlights is “bursting with real-time data”.

Angela continues to add that “this is so exciting for HR leaders, who can now provide critical insights to steer the business through surfacing measures that are critical to the success of any business – such as capability, capacity, productivity and efficiency.” Angela follows on to explain that “through systems and HR data analytics, HR can remove systemic bias in human behaviour, and replace it with fair and equitable working practices.  This, I believe, is the key, to unlocking the potential within a workforce.”

From my conversation with Angela, it is evident that to gain the full benefits of people analytics you need to go beyond the excel spreadsheet.  And with HR systems, we can collate all the real-time employee data stored on the platform and gain invaluable insights into our workforce – without having to have a PhD in statistics!

The future of HR

Every moment of every waking hour, technology is becoming more and more advanced. It makes me wonder: what’s next for HR technology? In particular, what are Angela’s predictions for the future of HR technology?

“I think that People Analytics are going to become more sophisticated. We will start to see employees with data science backgrounds coming into HR and ultimately, people analytics will become part of the entire business analytics DNA.”

Fast forward 5 years, Angela predicts, “we may start to move towards an even more flexible working model.  Whether it’s called the gig economy, ‘slithers’ of working time, or multiple employment instances – the employee/employer contract will undoubtedly need to be more flexible than it is today. We may start to see less about roles being advertised and more about work packages.”

Well, that’s definitely some food for thought for the future of HR and HR technology. I’m sure we will have to recap in 5 years’ time to see if her predictions have come true.

Until next time…

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