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Winning the human race

Friday 28 October 2011, 12:09PM

By Greentree International

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Winning the human race
Winning the human race Credit: Greentree International

Not enough time for people management? You need smart HR tools, says Kinetic’s Scott Graham.


"Welcome aboard – here’s your cubicle. Someone should have some forms for you to fill in. See Fred down the hall, he should be able to log you in. Just have a play around for a while. Gotta run, I’ll try to catch up with you tomorrow. Bye!”

A first day on the job like that would be enough to make some people walk straight out the door again. And the person responsible probably didn’t intend to be so brusque – they’re just too busy.

The essence of good human resources management (HRM) is good leadership – recruiting the right people, putting them in the right roles; then moulding individual staff members into a team, encouraging initiative and rewarding success – as long as you’ve got the time.

Larger businesses can afford a full-time human resources manager to deal with employee data ranging from pay details to performance review and health & safety, but in smaller companies it’s a task that is often distributed among team leaders or department heads as one more job to do. The upshot is: HRM tends to be the task that gets neglected.

What all companies need is a data management system designed to take care of paperwork.

Efficient, intelligent HRM tools mean management has more time to deal directly with staff, because the data is always up to date, and the system can issue alerts if it’s not.

“As an organisation grows, managing staff becomes a lot harder, so it’s imperative that you have proper systems in place that everybody in that organisation feels comfortable with,” says Scott Graham, Director of Greentree Partner Kinetic Information Systems.

Who controls the data?

“One of the biggest problems with HR data is that you’re reliant on both management and staff themselves keeping their records up to date,’ Scott says. “If it’s difficult or time-consuming, requiring a lot of forms to be filled out, then it’s likely to go on the back burner.”

Then there’s the issue of job description and responsibilities. Jobs evolve over time, and if the changes are significant enough, the employer needs to be able to re-assess their needs, in terms of roles, skills sets and training.

Greentree’s Human Resource Management captures a comprehensive range of information for each employee, including contact details, next of kin, leave balances, medical history, staff development, payroll, allocated roles, curriculum vitae, plus all events that are relevant to an employee. Employees can update their personal information themselves. HRM also allows job functions to be defined and allocated to employees as they take on new roles and responsibilities.

Most importantly, Greentree is fully integrated, so one set of data concerning an employee is shared with all other functions, such as Payroll and Workflow.

“In some respects Greentree’s HR modules are a bit like a database,” Scott says. “You can go in and build your own lists of valid things that are pertinent to your organisation, so it doesn’t make any assumptions about your business.”

Good practice

Good HRM is therefore crucial to a company’s performance. It can ensure that training and certification are kept up to date, that safety requirements are observed (it can schedule random mandatory drug and alcohol tests for machinery or vehicle operators, for instance), that there are no gaps in skills requirements, and that company policies and procedures are both correct and followed, and that staff are fully aware of them.

However, the greatest benefit to a business of good HRM is stability – ensuring that staff are happy in their work and not constantly checking the job sites.

“High staff turnover is not good for business,” Scott says. “You never get anybody who is experienced, who understands how you work as an organisation. You get no traction for your projects if you’re always having to train up new staff, and then you have to bear those added training costs as well.”

If your HR data management is up to scratch, your team leaders can spend less time managing, and more time leading.

“Whilst human capital is arguably the most valuable asset to a business, we also acknowledge that human error can occur,” says Scott. “Greentree HRM means that human error is eliminated.”

A World of Hurt

A mining site can be a dangerous place, and if a worker is injured, government agencies can become involved. Proper documentation of incidents is a must.

Pegasus (http://www.pegasus.net.au) is a recruitment and training organisation, one of whose biggest clients is Australia’s mining industry.

“In Australia today under the OH&S legislation you have to show the officials what you did, not tell them what you did, and you never know when you’re going to be called to do that,” says Pegasus’ Chief Financial Officer, Phil Stalker.

“Under the law, the burden of proof is placed upon management, and if you haven’t got documents to back it up, you’re in a world of hurt. We‘re talking jail time.”

Greentree HRM created a single point of entry for incident reporting from mining sites. Greentree ensures that actions required in the wake of an incident are taken by those responsible, that reports are delivered to those who need them, and that ongoing hazardous, environmental or training issues are also addressed.

“Armed with Greentree, we can capture the information, report it out to managers, and get them to start taking action” Phil says. “It’s not so much the urgency of action, but to start the document flow, which is all-important.”


About Scott Graham

Scott Graham was born in Scotland and educated in England. He started out life as an accountant in practice, before doing a short stint in industry as an accountant in the quarry and aggregates sector. He then moved into the software industry as a director of two successful software companies, and has been in the industry for 18 years.

In 2008 Scott moved to Australia, where he now enjoys helping organisations improve internal processes, and empowering them to make better business decision through real time reporting and KPIs.

Living in Newcastle, NSW, if he ever finds himself with some free time Scott likes to read, fish, and socialise with friends.