The University of Toronto has rolled out a new communications portal for human resources employees. Its goal: to deliver up-to-date, easy-to-access training and course materials to the 500 departments that use the system.
“So it was not about money,” said Judith Matthew, application development manager for human resources with the University of Toronto.
The new Human Resources Information System (HRIS) is the primary repository of all personnel data associated with an employee’s appointment and income. And it’s designed to provide ongoing communications to HRIS users about system changes, upcoming events, reference documentation and training materials.
Previously, if any changes were made to the system, an e-mail alert was sent to all HRIS users.
“They would read the e-mail, delete it and then have no record of the changes,” said Matthew. So the first goal was to create a one-stop-shop for all HRIS information.
It also had an internal staff development system and course catalogue, but there was no calendar, so it wasn’t clear when a course was actually being held. “What we did is create a calendar so you could chart your development in terms of how you attend courses related to HR,” she said. “From that catalogue you can register into one of our other systems.”
Revised and repackaged course selections feature shorter and more frequent classes, lunch n’ learn sessions, guest speakers explaining aspects of policy related to course topics – and allow attendees to provide more concise feedback.
It also wanted to keep training materials up-to-date. Things change, but employees still continued to use old documentation. Through HRIS, all course documentation is now available from the HRIS site.
“We were a team that worked in a vacuum and nobody knew what anybody did,” said Matthew. The site now provides contact information, making it easier for the team to direct a user to the right information. From concept to design, the project took about six months, and was created in-house by its own IT team.
Organizations are looking to use their HR department for strategic roles, instead of as admin assistants, said Morgan Chmara, research analyst with Info-Tech Research Group. By doing this, it not only makes HR’s job more efficient and productive, it gives employees a chance to get information when it’s convenient for them.
The average cost of Web self-service is roughly five to 10 cents compared to $20 or $30 to process the same kind of information through paper and $2 to $4 to process it over the phone, she said.
Employees are also empowered to control and handle their own information, leading to increased employee satisfaction and quicker inquiry resolution by up to 50 per cent.
“Not only does it empower employees to participate more directly and ensures more accurate information, it can serve as an effective retention tool,” said Chmara.
HR personnel spend a good chunk of their day dealing with routine questions and administrative tasks, when they could really be dealing with strategic issues, she said. Self-service saves time for HR staff by reducing inquiries by up to 75 per cent, allowing HR to focus their efforts on strategic functions.
If organizations aren’t moving toward self-service, it’s an indication they’re going to fall behind competitively, she added.
For employees and managers using employee self-service, access is typically simple, safe and secure, said Chmara, but you do have to take the proper security measures, such as providing passwords and defined access privileges.