Even the most mundane processes are ripe for reimagining with new tools and capabilities. Technology can take the hassle out of leave administration and let you focus on booking that trip.

By Tom Elliott

In a previous post, I talked about how the pandemic had ushered in a third age of HR tech and mentioned that Microsoft was uniquely positioned among all vendors to deliver it. In this blog, I’m going to explain why that’s the case.

Human Resources as a function has a particular challenge when it comes to technology. Unlike other functions, the solutions HR buys are used by every single person in the business, rather than a few key users. Therefore, the challenge is in getting people to actually use them.

Speak to most HR vendors and they’ll tell you about products packed with features. Packed by necessity, these vendors have one opportunity to embed themselves in your business. They know that driving traffic to their products for as many reasons as possible increases adoption across the whole platform. It’s the same concept as supermarkets selling clothes and electronics. When you pop in for a loaf of bread or a pint of milk, you might be tempted to also pick up a couple of t-shirts and replace that pair of earphones that went through the washing machine.

But there’s a reason the internet has disrupted our shopping habits, and all the major supermarkets now offer an online option. Nobody wants to drag themselves out to a busy, crowded supermarket when they can just whip out their mobile phone and do the weekly shop from the sofa.

Just as supermarkets have begun to offer ‘shopping in the flow of life’, so too are the major vendors looking to create processes which offer ‘HR in the flow of work’. Although we’re not quite working from the sofa (at least not every day), we can still offer processes that provide minimal distraction from the main focus of the day.

Enter Microsoft

Between January 2019 and June 2022, Microsoft Teams usage grew from 20 million users to 270 million users. The place where we hang out at work is no longer the coffee machine (or the smoking shed), it’s Microsoft Teams.

But why is that significant for HR?

Because it means Microsoft doesn’t have to pack features into its Dynamics product to drive traffic to your HR process. Microsoft Teams is already embedded into your business. All Microsoft has to do to seriously disrupt the HR market is give you the ability to put your HR processes into Teams. And that’s exactly what they’re doing.

For example, there’s already a Teams app available (search for ‘Human Resources’) which connects to Dynamics 365 and allows you to review your leave balances and request leave from Teams directly. Helpful as an employee, but invaluable as manager. My team’s leave requests now come to me as a chat message. I can review and approve, with commentary, without even leaving Teams. My approval in turn updates their leave balance and sends them a chat notification to let them know they can go ahead and book that flight.

From a HR perspective, the simplicity of that process means my workforce are more likely to use it. The data I can gain from the system around leave balances, wellbeing, and the financial liability of outstanding leave balances is significantly more reliable as a result.

But it doesn’t have to end there. sa.global’s evergreen solution takes things a step further. It automates the admin tasks around leave booking, making sure business as usual continues during the absence, and keeping the wider workforce informed of the absence (within security restrictions, naturally).

The best bit? This is just the beginning – every new feature we add to our product sparks new ideas, more things we can do that have previously been in the ‘really useful but technically really hard’ pile. The technology is finally catching up with our imaginations. The hard part now is to focus in on what our clients really need, and what our clients’ employees will thank us for.

If you want to hear more about how exciting and easy booking leave can be, get in touch. You can also watch this webinar: Employee experience: Shaping the ‘new possible’ with Microsoft technology to know more.