Help HR Help Themselves

18 Jan

Help HR Help ThemselvesIn my previous post, I discussed “the other HR data repository” (the need to monitor incoming email messages sent to an HR department). In that post, I mentioned how an HR organization could utilize email as a way to allow staff to request and receive a desired HR report.

That concept caught readers’ attention – and quite a few of you followed-up with me asking for more details on how this could be done. And so, here’s more info on using email to run HR reports – and how by implementing such a system you can help your HR staff – and indeed, all your employees – to “help themselves”.

But first, a little background . . .

In these challenging economic times, every HR organization is tasking themselves with streamlining business processes and identifying procedural bottlenecks. Very often, these bottlenecks are not caused by inefficiencies within an HR department, but rather show themselves whenever HR staff are dependent on another department (or another person) for information that HR needs.

Case in point:  running HR reports.

Who is responsible for running these reports in your organization? Can your HR staff run any report they want themselves, or does your staff have to contact someone down in IT in order to get a report generated?

And how about your employees? Can they run their own reports, such as a report that shows them their benefits, 401k contributions, and so on? Or do they have to contact your HR staff (who then has to contact your IT department) to get the report run?

There’s no question that a lot of HR data is “sensitive”; only certain people should be able to run certain HR reports. But just because “not all HR reports can be run by just anyone” doesn’t mean that your HR staff to has to play “tag; you’re it!” when it comes to running these reports.

Consider implementing a “Reports on Demand” business model within your HR organization.

Reports on Demand puts the ability to run reports in the hands of the people who need them. And the best thing about reports-on-demand is that it doesn’t require teaching your staff a whole new technology to do so. As long as an employee knows how to send an email message, they have all the expertise they need to request and received their desired reports.

So how does it work? Here’s how – using the example of an employee who wishes to receive an “Accrued Vacation” report for themselves:

  •  The employee sends an email to a specified account, such as
  • In this email (in the subject and/or body), the sender specifies the name (or “ID”) of the report they wish to run.
  • The requester sends the message.
  • The message is received by an “email response system” (ERS)
  • ERS checks to see who sent in the report request and whether they are authorized to run that report.
  • If the requestor of the report is authorized, the ERS runs the report and auto-emails the report output back to the requestor.

 Pretty nifty, eh?

What’s especially nice about an ERS system is that it can parse through the contents of an incoming email message and use those contents to run the requested report with any “parameters” (selection criteria) the requestor specifies.

And if someone requests a report that they should not be asking for, the ERS system can detect that as well – and alert HR or management about someone’s attempt to access sensitive data.

The bottom-line is that more than ever before, an HR organization has to look for “dependent processes” – tasks whose completion are dependent on the availability of other people. Because the more that you can remove these dependencies, the faster the tasks get completed, and the more you empower your HR staff to “help themselves”.

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