Health Service Focus

01.10.15

Can NHS trusts be more proactive in employee relations case management?

Source: NHE Sep/Oct 15

Andy Shettle, ER Tracker product director at Software Europe, talks to NHE’s David Stevenson about how efficient recording processes for employee relations cases can help NHS trusts go a long way to identifying root causes and ultimately reducing further cases.

A full version of this infographic is available at the NHE website

Managing employee relations (ER) cases is complex but many organisations in the NHS and wider public sector struggle to track, record and monitor all the activity relating to these cases. This is the view of Andy Shettle, ER Tracker product director at Software Europe, who has developed the ‘ER analytics maturity model’ – a five-step process to identify how to move from reactive and basic data recording to proactive case management (see image below). 

  • Step one - Manage and update cases day-to-day
  • Step two - Analyse cases using various dimensions
  • Step three - Analyse where costs occur and the amount of time spent on a case
  • Step four - ‘Why’ analysis/root cause
  • Step five - Review and benchmark open cases 

Asked why organisations are more reactive in this area, Shettle, who has worked in HR many years and was formerly the MD at Workforce Metrics, told NHE: “I think there are two parts to this. Firstly, they do not have the tools that can assist them to work proactively and they are potentially used to using more basic reporting mechanisms. 

“And also when you are dealing with really busy caseloads day in and day out, people are not really thinking how can we improve upon these things? They end up just firefighting.” 

Traditionally, ER cases have been tracked with simple spreadsheets, which allows for basic data to be collected and analysed. This would, according to Shettle, put them on either Step 2 or 3 of the index. 

He argues that in the NHS, where people are constantly being asked to do more with less, one of the major barriers to improving efficiency in case management is due to time – or the lack of it. 

“The biggest challenge is being bold enough to say ‘stop’ to look at how we [as an organisation] can improve or implement a system that will assist us to work more proactively,” said Shettle. 

“There is a desire for organisations to get to the higher levels to start getting the benefits. For instance, Step 1 to 3 you get some benefit, but Step 4 is where you start looking to implement change programmes based upon information that has occurred or is occurring, and Step 5 is where you are really looking to proactively monitor cases and try and speed up how long cases take to complete.” 

He adds that by using cloud software organisations can centrally manage their ER caseloads, reducing the operational complexity of managing multiple employee cases, improving case efficiency and simplifying case reporting. 

Shettle stated that by using advanced analytics, understanding the root causes of ER cases becomes a “very powerful” tool as it allows organisations to identify whether common themes are occurring in the same department or with regards to a line manager. 

But NHE was told that very few organisations currently, in Shettle’s experience, take the time to review their ER cases for lessons learnt despite this being valuable in bringing about change programmes and potentially reducing case numbers. 

Shettle added that by adopting new processes for recording ER cases, NHS trusts can successfully move away from paper while centralising their document management. He also believes the ER analytics maturity model isn’t about criticising organisations but allows them to benchmark where they are now and where they would like to be.

Maturity Journey

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