Around 300 delegates attended HR Network's annual meet-up of members in Scotland. MS Teams, Zoom and the like have helped us through this time of remote working – but it felt good to be back in a face-to-face business context!
The delegates heard multiple speakers on various topics, and between sessions, they networked with each other and checked out what the exhibitors had to offer. We were there to promote our Workpro HR case management offering and pick up on current HR topics of concern. Keeping up to date with market developments helps us, in turn, to keep our software up to date.
HR topics these days?
Mental health and wellbeing, recruitment and retention, home working's longer-term outlook, skills development, wage cost increases and other price pressures. And the factors that drive the "Gen Z" workforce, particularly a notable desire for corporate values that align with their own concerns, such as social and environmental issues.
Of course, we are an employer, not just a supplier – in fact, we are employee-owned. So, these are trends we are grappling with as well.
"Something that we're seeing internally within the company is staff wanting to work from home, and we have the tools and the technology available tosupport that. Also, our customers are moving more towards remote working, using tools like Workpro to support collaboration across a distributed group of people. Having a centralised system where everything can be done in a systematic way following the same processes, is really helpful."Chris Ellis, Workpro Chief Technical Officer
Remote working and staff wellbeing
However, remote working can have a significant impact on company culture. We are very conscious about the need to ensure that team spirit is kept up whilst people are working from home, as well as the possible effects on mental health and wellbeing for some. So, we have introduced various initiatives to counteract this. Regular online and (more recently) in-person social events and external speakers on wellbeing and self-care are backed up by technology that encourages team interaction.
We use Trickle, for example, an employee engagement app where people can raise concerns anonymously or give people a "fist bump" if they're particularly happy with things they've done.
Recruitment and retention
These initiatives are also aimed at recruiting and retaining staff. Recruitment is tricky just now in our industry. Software engineers are in high demand and short supply. For a smaller company like ours, we cannot rely on salary alone to attract talent. So, we offer flexible, family-friendly working conditions and professional development and continually seek ways to make the work interesting and fulfilling.
"We want to be a great place to work. We want people to grow as people, as well as getting better in their professional lives, enhancing the skills that they've got, trying things that they maybe wouldn't have done. And we've noticed quite a trend towards this sense of corporate/community responsibility - there's a big desire to give back and contribute as well." Ken Naismith, CAS CEO
We work with an organisation called Social Good Connect, which allows team members to identify charities that they can volunteer with, with some paid time off every month to do so.
The future is…hybrid
Remote working has its downsides – employee connections being the most obvious. And its upsides - the ability to recruit people who do not live anywhere near your office, for example.
"In our own business, most people are very happy working from home, and we've seen no loss in productivity. But for new people joining, it's harder for them to get the company vibe, to be drawn into the team spirit, to know that they've got a voice and we want to hear it. That's more easily done when you can get together." Ken Naismith, CAS CEO
Therefore we have chosen to move to hybrid working at Workpro – home by default but with the option to work or meet up in the office as desired (or indeed 'required' for business reasons).
Technology in this new world of work
Whether people return to the office full-time or not, Covid has changed how many HR departments view technology. COVID brought about the scattering of the workforce to the four corners of the world, and "working together apart" was very difficult to do if people were relying on old laptops and notepads. We had a lot of enquiries from HR departments, needing more accessible, collaborative workflow technology - without compromising security. And as it happens, Workpro HR case management software does just that.
Workpro is cloud-based case management software for HR/employee relations issues. Everything from grievances and disciplinaries to health and wellbeing cases can be recorded and processed within one secure system.