Human Resources and Technology – 5 Predicted Hot Topics for 2015

A new year always heralds new starts and new intentions. So, we sat down to chat to Donna Larvin, Finance and HR Manager here at Cascade, to get her thoughts on the ‘hot topics’ in the world of Human Resources for 2015;

1) Using technology to improve employee engagement

Recent reports have suggested that poor management can have a negative impact on productivity, as can disengaged employees. Do you think there is a role for HR technology in 2015, in helping to improve employee engagement and thus see businesses prosper?

Donna Larvin Commented;

“We’ve seen our clients using HR Software to help improve internal communications. The two modules – Self Service and Workflow – force all facets of an organisation to interact with each other. They also give individuals a sense of ownership over their personal information, which has a motivational impact.

It’s really down to an organisation’s perception of the software. One could see it as a personnel system – a database for storing employees details. However, here at Cascade we want to make the most of our system and by using the self service module, we can encourage our staff to take control of certain administrative tasks, which in turn makes them feel part of the process. We also use self service in conjunction with the Workflow module, which encourages managers to keep on top of their responsibilities, particularly with regards to employee development. It’s not difficult for the system to remind managers that they need to review or appraise a member of their team. It’s amazing that something so straight forward brings a level of transparency within the company, what is more to the point.”

2) Encouraging leadership over management

There is a lot of talk about poor management and the impact this can have on productivity. We know that good HR practices are inextricably linked to effective leadership, so how do you think the human resource role will help support organisations going into 2015?

Donna Larvin Commented;

“With economic growth in the UK and an increase in the rate of employment, there is a sense of a positivity going into 2015. Many of the workforce are feeling optimistic and confident about their careers. However in order to retain our well-qualified and experienced individuals, our managers should not only get on top of planning, organising and coordinating staff; they should also be looking to motivate and inspire.

The role of the HR team here at Cascade goes beyond responsive and administrative necessities of maintaining employee records. It’s important that the HR team have the ability to make critical, proactive and strategic contributions to the company. We are fortunate enough to realise our HR processes through the company’s HR software. This means that can we free up valuable time taken up by time-consuming administrative tasks – that in itself allows us to focus on more project based work. And as we’ve discussed before, we can also use the software to impose processes and workflows that ensure the continuing mentoring and development of staff by their managers.

It’s evident that this is working – we’ve recently been awarded Investors in People again, something we are proud to have been part of for over 10 years. Never has this accreditation been more important to us as a business as it acknowledges our best practices in people management, which is such a hot topic for 2015.”

3) Working Agile – understanding workplace changes and adapting to them

We are familiar with the concept of working agile when referring to project development, but how can this be applied to general day to day working practices and what impact will this have in 2015?

Donna Larvin Commented;

“We have all seen the impact that broadband has had on the office environment. Most organisations are receptive to a new, flexible way of working and where applicable provide individuals with the option to work from home. Here at Cascade we recognise that, in some instances, it’s more productive to allow our staff to work remotely – particularly our sales teams and product consultants, who find themselves travelling the length and breadth of the UK to visit clients and prospects.
However, we are very mindful of the culture that working remotely can create, which in some instances can see individuals over compensating and putting more hours in.  They can be travelling out of hours, for instance or it can be much easier to start and finish when working from home.
We recognise that changes to working patterns as a result of technology will impact on certain legislative policies such as the Working Time Directive. We are keeping a close eye on the planned review by the European Commission later in 2015.

In the meantime, we make sure everyone is aware of our company policies and again look to our own HR software to help disseminate this content around. We use Workflows to send out emails to notify our staff that the need to read the policies and can create an audit trail of those who haven’t actioned this.”

4) Tackling legislative changes

A recent survey found that just 21% of Human Resource Directors were prepared for the new legislation on Parental Shared Leave, which will come into effect in April 2015. What is your view on the matter?

Donna Larvin Commented;

“Changes in legislation can be quite daunting to managers and HR department, especially when they can have a potential impact on the contracts of our employees. For example, we expect there to be a number of significant changes we need to make to our HR processes when the new legislation for Shared Parental Leave takes effect in the new tax year. Fortunately, the team here at Cascade have been working with employment law specialists to ensure that our software can deal with the changes and will plan to roll out the updates nearer the time. This is great news for the HR team here at Cascade, as well as all clients currently using our HR software. We can feel confident that as long as we understand the impact of the new legislation, there will be HR processes to hand to help with the administration.”

5) Attracting and retaining the top talent in your industry

There is a positive outlook going into 2015 and businesses are much more optimistic about the future. However with growth comes the need for the employment of a well skilled, qualified workforce. With an increase in demand for talent, how can employers attract and retain staff?

Donna Larvin Commented;

“Talent management will continue to be a top priority for 2015, with the need to stimulate and incentivise employees. Investment in the development of staff will help to overcome apathy and is essential if an employer intends to retain their workforce.

Understanding employees is also essential, as sometimes our perceived priorities can vary from those of the individual. For example, a recent workforce survey found that a flexible work / life balance was seen as a priority by employees, where HRDs feel felt that praise and recognition was higher on the agenda.

Brand perception will become more relevant – not from a consumer perspective, but from the point of view of an employee, as they look to understand more about the working culture of a company. People are already using the likes of LinkedIn and Twitter to discover more about organisations, however it’s new platforms like Glassdoor that offer greater transparency and real life reviews from employees, rather like the employment version of Trip Advisor. It’s likely to grow in popularity, so it’s in the interests of employers to embrace it.”

Thank you Donna for taking us on an insightful journey into the Hot Topics in Human Resources for 2015,

Cascade HR Manager Donna Larvin

If you are an existing client and have a query regarding using HR Software, why not visit our dedicated customer portal, or call our service desk on 0113 255 4115. If you don’t yet have a HR and payroll software system in place but would like to understand more of the benefits, then why not book a free demonstration or email to discuss your requirements.


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Cascade HR is a well-established, award-winning provider of fully-integrated HR and payroll software. The company is renowned as much for its quality of project management and ongoing customer service levels, as it is its dynamic technology. Over