How technology is paving the way to improved human resources processes, greater sustainability and better bottom-line results
by Johnny Laurent
July 2, 2014

Many construction firms have limited staff and resources dedicated to HR. You alone, or a small team of employees, may be solely responsible for benefits administration, payroll and routine HR administration. The good news is that HR does not have to be time-consuming and tedious. Investing in the right technologies can help streamline your HR processes and have a significant impact on your bottom line.

A human resources management system (HRMS) is a central system that is connected to all HR-related processes. It allows employees and managers to interact directly with the HRMS through self-service functionality, which eliminates the delay, inaccuracies and inefficiencies of a paper-bound system. Moving to a paperless HR department can provide numerous benefits for your organization: improved sustainability, easier access to key workforce information, lower costs and increased efficiency.

Sustainability and a Greener Reputation

Reducing the use of paper in business processes will continue to become a necessary step toward corporate sustainability efforts. Some global and regional companies are pushing sustainability initiatives not only within their own operations but also in the supply chain, encouraging vendors and partners to implement greener business practices. Going green is a competitive response to changes in social attitudes and to the expectations of customers, employees and stakeholders.

Because HR departments require many paper-intensive administrative processes, they are a great place to embrace corporate sustainability objectives by eliminating paper. Paperless HR processes can even help with recruiting and engagement—many sought-after job candidates and top-performing employees are passionate about 
environmental causes.

Easy Access to Key Workforce Information

To be successful, your construction business must make better decisions than your competitors. Better decision-making hinges on the right people gaining access to the right information at the right time. As a practical business benefit, an HRMS empowers your HR team, management and—when appropriate—even employees with ready access to key information. All relevant information about present and past employees is stored electronically in a secure, centralized location.

When a decision requires an understanding of the company’s workforce, self-service functionality in your HRMS can provide key decision-makers with information about employees, performance, programs, benefits and workforce costs. You can access this information in real time and generate a variety of reports on demand. With an HRMS, the HR department can also provide managers, supervisors and executives access to specific workforce information, tailored for their business roles. Employees can also use self-service to access benefit plans, training announcements, company policies, payroll history and time off balances—all without the need for time or resources from HR staff.

Lower Costs and Increased Efficiency

An HRMS can help your business lower costs in several ways: reduced supply costs, improved accuracy and more efficient routing and approval of electronic forms and requests. Going paperless not only eliminates the cost of the paper itself, but it also reduces the expense of printing, delivery, handling and storage of your documents.

Companies can also save time and resources because employees can directly interact with the HRMS through self-service functionality, which reduces the cost associated with data entry. Employees take responsibility for entering some data, such as a time-off requests, into the HRMS, which allows managers to immediately review and approve that information.

Self-service increases the accuracy of HR data by reducing the typographical data-entry errors common to a paper-bound system. The increased accuracy means your team can spend less time devoted to detecting and remedying mistakes. It also enables employees and their managers to complete routine requests and administration without HR involvement, such as requests for time off, changes to W-4 information and updated contact information. With the use of electronic, automated forms, the HRMS allows for more efficient routing of employee requests and management approvals. This helps drive company-
wide efficiency for HR processes and will improve the level of service that HR can offer to your firm.

As your company grows, you may find that your HR automation needs change. That’s the great thing about an HRMS—it’s easy to expand the system and add capabilities. You can start with the functionality your company needs today, then add additional features later.

HR Functions Improved by Technology

An HRMS can perform each HR function of a previously paper-based system with increased efficiency, cost savings and enhanced analytics. Your firm can strip the paper out of any of the following HR functions:

  • Online applicant tracking and recruiting: You can locate and recruit better-qualified candidates for open positions. You can post positions online, and potential employees can submit résumés and applications electronically. In that format, you and your hiring team can search and filter candidates for the appropriate skill set. Résumés and applications can then be routed to management for further review. Some systems can even help schedule candidate interviews and, if approved, transmit the offer letter. If the candidate is employed by the company, the résumés and application are then stored in the new electronic personnel file.
  • Employee administration: The employee self-service feature of the system performs many routine HR functions while keeping sensitive employee data safe and secure. You or your HR manager can determine how workforce data is distributed based on the security profile of each user. With these security protocols in place, the system allows employees to initiate requests for time off and training, review their payroll history, see what benefits they signed up for, access company policies and much more.
  • Automated form delivery and approval alerts: In addition to monitoring HR activities, tools exist that go beyond monitoring to help the approval work flow process. These tools auto-fill, generate and deliver forms based on specific business events and help expedite them through the approval process. For example, a new employee entered into the HRMS would trigger the delivery of onboarding forms, a request for orientation training and a form to get the employee into the payroll system. The system would automatically send these forms to the correct people, and alerts would ensure the forms’ quick routing through the entire approval process.
  • Online benefits enrollment: Empowering employees to learn about benefits and make their selections online can significantly shorten the enrollment cycle. Online benefits enrollment provides complete and timely information about benefits without the use of costly paper packets. Employees can then input their information and selections and even update that information in the event of future life changes. You can quickly handle open enrollment through a simple review and approval of submissions, without the need for time-consuming data reentry.
  • Automated benefits carrier connectivity: This technology gathers, formats and electronically transmits data about enrolled employees to benefits providers. This automated system avoids the costly errors typical of a paper-based system, including duplicate data entry, 
typographical errors and missed enrollments.