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SIX top tips for tech HR leaders to weather the 2021 storm

8 October 2020 6 min read

woman with umbrealla stand in the storm at seaside

Ah, 2021. For many of us in business, it has been impossible to keep calm and carry on with a ‘business as usual’ attitude. But despite the unease, we have seen an unprecedented level of resilience and resolve. We’ve seen business models pivot, product and service lines diversified, and businesses trading more efficiently than ever before.

Of course, we’ve also seen some organisations go out of business, and others having to adjust significantly with redundancies, pay cuts, reduced hours, travel bans, spending cuts, and recruitment freezes. So, when you’re being asked to do more, with less, in an unknown business environment, what are the first things every HR needs to think about? 

1. Use data to help you be more efficient

We talk of the recent Covid-19 pandemic as being an ‘uncertain time’ but all times are uncertain.  Who’s crystal ball can accurately predict the certainty of everything? One thing we can do though is minimise surprises. To know what you know, and predict the rest. We say people have a fear of the unknown, they don’t fear the unknown, they fear their reaction to it. But what if you could suggest responses to most scenarios? Deciding ahead of time how you’ll react speeds up responses, simplifies the action you need to take, and gives you peace of mind. For example, effective data insight will show you who’s in the business (regardless as to whether they’re working at home or in the traditional workplace), who’s out, your employee turnover, your top absence trends, % availability of your team, etc. So, once you have visibility of the data you know, you can efficiently plan scenarios around behavior patterns and act more quickly, minimizing the business impact down the line.

2. Get your tech doing the talking

We’re not quite talking Knight Rider here (if you were born post 80’s Google it, you’re in for a viewing delight). But we are talking automation. With potentially fewer people in your HR team, or, simply more work to do as your business adapts to change, the last thing you need is to have to field emails from employees regarding their holiday entitlement or to point managers in the direction of policies. Give your people the ability to self-serve, to check, book, and access anything to do with a holiday, health and wellbeing, sickness, or in fact, any type of leave; and you’ll dramatically reduce your admin, whilst keeping employees happy.

3. Openness and a great tech stack are key

Regular and open communication with your employees is vital.  If you’re not physically with each other, use video meetings wherever possible and politely ask that everyone has their cameras on, no one cares what each other’s hair looks like. There’s been a huge spike in workplace technology systems throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Collaboration tools, remote connectivity platforms, and a shift towards cloud and web-based employee self-service tools will ensure employees are better equipped to manage their working lives without the reliance on paper, spreadsheets, and office-based activity.

4. Soak up, and streamline

When we’re asked to streamline, we are really being asked to realign our processes and practices, so they provided the least resistance to the flow of the business. But this, in some cases, can require significant change, which can be hard. The brain doesn’t like change. Some people have got better at dealing with it than others, but even so, their brain still struggles when changing how we do even the simplest of tasks. We must learn, to adapt, to watch what others have tried. This is difficult to do when we aren’t built to keep up with the speed and the momentum of change that we are currently witnessing. Change contributes to the future of an ever-evolving organisation and leads to fresh ideas and strategies that work right now, with what you’ve got. Be inspired here.

5. Fair Flexibility

In March 2020, those that could worked from home, and many continue to do so. A recent Edays poll indicated that two-thirds of people (63%) felt more productive and efficient at home. Working this way undoubtedly has its benefits for both employee and employer. Less commuting, a more balanced work/life routine, less distraction. And of course, the point of it all, fewer contact points in which to transmit illness. And for the employer, cost savings from lower office expenses are being realised and employee wellbeing can be increased.  But this only works if you have the flexible infrastructure to wrap around it. It’s no good asking employees to fill in version-controlled spreadsheets, or worse, paper-based forms when requesting leave. It also only works if employees can access everything they would usually access from the office. All your systems should be in the cloud and accessible on any device, wherever that may be. 

6. Healthy people, healthy business

Many of us are familiar with the juggle struggle. Being a manager, a parent, a partner, a friend, a well-rounded human being. We were doing this long before Covid-19 came knocking. But the difference is, now, we have less access to the support systems of family and friends. There’s a bigger reluctance to travel and take a break and complex negotiations to consider if you do. This is a stressful time for everyone so remember to prompt your employees to take regular breaks from work. A focus on mental health and emotional wellbeing is also so important during this time (and, all the time). Employee Assistance Programmes provide holistic support for employees and virtual GPs help employees look up any health symptoms and book and attend appointments anytime, anywhere, and order prescriptions straight to their home, workplace, or local pharmacy.

Every business, around the world, is riding this wave. Some may have a bigger boat than others, but a storm’s a storm. Having the right technology in place to support your people and your business requirements will be your anchor. 

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Katrina Bennett People Director at edays
October 8, 2020

Katrina is edays' own People Director with significant UK and international experience in delivering people strategy and value-adding HR solutions across a range of organisations and sectors (including Arriva, Boots, Rolls Royce, the utility and charity sectors). Katrina has over 20 years of experience in Human Resources and is CIPD qualified.