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Charlie Duff

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Analysis: How should the HR software industry respond to the changing HR environment?


In recent years, there has been a rapid increase in the amount of pressure being placed on organisations’ HR department by the board, and with HR legislation flying out of Downing Street at an alarming rate, software providers have been forced to develop technology that meets client requirements in a constantly changing environment.

HR technology providers have therefore had to ensure that their core offerings are not only flexible enough to satisfy recent developments in legislation, but are also sufficiently adaptable to accommodate any future changes, thus avoiding the risk of their software, and indeed, business, becoming rapidly outdated. Roger Moore, General Manager at Bond TeamSpirit, offers advice on how the HR software industry should be responding to such a fluid environment, and provides detail on what developments we are likely to see occur in the HR software industry over the coming months.

The problem: the changing HR environment

The government has been laying on HR legislation thick and fast in recent years, rapidly increasing the amount of pressure being placed on organisations’ HR departments to remain compliant. In the past six months for instance, the default retirement age (DRA) has been abolished, and Additional Paternity Leave and Pay rules have taken effect, both of which have a significant impact for any HR department. Despite the rise in legislation however, there is no official governing body to oversee the changes. Although the CIPD and ACAS are currently aiming to take on this role, both member bodies have a long way to go before they are established in the position, and as such, there is no clear direction on how new legalisation should be dealt with.

Even if the CIPD or ACAS do eventually become established in the position of official governing body for the HR industry, is it their responsibility to take on such a role? Whilst the CIPD is Europe’s largest HR and development professional body, it is not government-funded, and as such, all resource is currently generated by its members. And whilst ACAS is a government-sponsored organisation, its role is focused on conflict management between employers and employees, so is it really their responsibility to enforce HR legislation as it comes through the door?

Rather than having both the CIPD and ACAS attempt to take on such an enormous task, the onus should instead be placed on an official government body. At present, HR legislation is being issued by the government left, right and centre, but due to the fact that organisations are receiving conflicting advice from the various bodies, they have been left unsure of how to respond to the changes.

Additional Paternity Pay and Leave rules, for instance, came into effect in April this year, and state that the father of a newborn baby, born on or after 3rd April 2011, is entitled to six months’ leave, if the mother returns to work before the end of her maternity leave. If the mother and father work for different companies however, how are the respective HR departments, and indeed, HR software developers, supposed to deal with this? A single, reliable point of contact is desperately needed to inform the relevant departments in all organisations of all future HR legislation passed by the government, and to offer advice on how it is to be dealt with effectively.

The response: developments in HR technology

Until the responsibility is passed on to an official governing body and clear guidance is given however, the responsibility lies with the HR software providers to keep a close eye on what changes are being made and when, so that responses can be both timely and accurate. And what developments can be made to HR software to ensure it is constantly up to date with the latest legislation? HR departments need to be confident that their software ensures and maintains ongoing compliance with the legislation, providing any necessary metrics, and as such, HR technology has had to develop at a rapid pace.

The key is configurability. HR systems can be configured to meet new legislation and rulings whenever they come into effect. Configurable solutions provide an attractive alternative to bespoke programming, which has proven to be fairly costly and time consuming in the past.

With a continuing rise in HR legislation, the government is seemingly ramping up the amount of pressure being placed on HR departments across UK industry. And with little in the way of guidance from an official governing body, organisations have been left unsure as to how to deal with the changes in the most effective way. Until a government body does take the initiative however, the responsibility lies with the HR sector itself – including HR personnel and also software suppliers – to keep a close eye on the pulse of the industry, adapting the latest thinking and supporting technology as required.

It is HR software suppliers that are, that have to be, at the heart of the industry and therefore engaging in a relationship with an HR technology expert will help HR personnel to respond to the ever increasing legislation both effectively and accurately.

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Charlie Duff


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