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About Jane Systems

Your trusted HR and Payroll software partner, delivering efficiency, employee engagement and legal compliance.

Chin Up

When it comes to dealing with mental health issues in the workplace, we’ve made undeniable progress. Having said that, I heard all three of the above statements used to and about a member of staff on a visit to a client’s office only last year. The person in question did look like he needed cheering up but he certainly wasn’t “mental”. He was a good professional coming to terms with a mental health issue. He’d flagged this up to his employer who’d assured him that his job was secure and spread the word that this person was to be treated well. Everyone tried to do that and many succeeded, but one person saying “leave him alone, he’s mental” is one too many.

NHS research tells us that a quarter of Britain’s workforce will have to cope with a mental health issue at some point in 2018. Obviously there are degrees of severity but employers are waking up to the fact that these issues are complex and debilitating and must be managed effectively.

Different managers have different leadership styles, and old school motivators may find it challenging to deal with conditions that they can’t personally identify with. The reality of modern management, though, is that being open to supportive communication and flexibility around hours and duties now comes with the territory.

We deal with senior HR professionals every day, and the judgement and consideration they show is admirable. Their instincts serve them well, but instincts can only take us so far. Sooner or later you need to have a plan. That’s where we come in.

Jane software actively encourages workplace interaction, with our self-service options enabling your people to put in immediate requests for training and development activity. By […]

Do the Right Thing

Starbucks was publicly shamed last month after two black customers were arrested in one of their Philadelphia outlets for reasons that still seem baffling. The two men were waiting for a friend to arrive before placing an order, but were asked to leave. When they asked why, the police were called. Almost inevitably the incident was filmed and the fallout has been wide-reaching. The chain, which draws annual global revenue in excess of $22 billion, faced accusations of unconscious bias and even open racism.

To their credit Starbucks wasted no time in addressing the issue. Over 8,000 US-based outlets were closed yesterday afternoon, enabling 175,000 staff to receive “unconscious bias” training. No expense was spared in the session and shutting up shop on a weekday afternoon meant a huge amount of expense was incurred, but the reaction has been mixed.

There’s anger among some employees that anyone should have to be trained not to be a racist. There’s also widespread scepticism about the effectiveness of the exercise. From a PR standpoint it may have looked like a good option but to those of us who’ve worked in environments that were poisoned by prejudice – conscious and unconscious – it seems optimistic in the extreme to expect that kind of negativity to disappear because people watched a video. Doing something is usually better than doing nothing, but what’s the best course of action?

We can’t blame Starbucks for the racism that pervades society and it’s harsh to blame them for recruiting people who are guilty of unconscious bias. Unspoken prejudice can fly under the radar in the most diligent recruitment interviews, so how can we deal with it and give it no room to flourish?

Those of us who […]

What Part of “Privacy” Don’t You Understand?

It was exciting for him, anyway. He was a big fan of the show and an even bigger fan of the actress. I smiled at his enthusiasm, but soon stopped smiling when he told me how the number came into his possession. He’d interviewed a candidate for an office job who’d previously worked as a PA at a talent agency. Her referees included clients she’d done particularly good work for, and as part of her application she’d given the Eastenders star’s phone number.

In a case like this we don’t need the law to tell us what’s right and wrong. Using this data for personal reasons completely unrelated to the original job application would have been ridiculously unprofessional and a clear violation of the actress’s privacy. It would have put his own job in jeopardy and also risked souring the job applicant’s relationship with her referee. Thankfully my friend snapped out of his fantasy before doing any damage. Recruiters and HR professionals aren’t doctors; they don’t have to take a Hippocratic oath but they do have to respect the people they work with and the information that comes their way. At Jane Systems we see evidence of that respect every day. We work with HR professionals throughout the public and private sectors and what consistently shines through isn’t just their respect for privacy, it’s the fact that this respect is woven into the fabric of their actions.

Right now that’s just as well. GDPR becomes law on Friday, and much of the casual rule-bending that characterizes bad practice will now have more serious and legally actionable consequences. We’ve already had a reminder this week of how star-struck fans can overstep the mark. Ed Sheeran’s treatment for […]

Like Goldy or Silvery but Made of Iron

It’s almost 30 years since the final episode of “Blackadder” was broadcast but it remains one of Britain’s best-loved situation comedies. And the jokes are still funny. In one episode, when the title character asks his hapless sidekick Baldrick if he understands what irony is, Baldrick memorably replies “It’s like goldy or silvery, but made of iron”.

ACAS’s stated purpose, its reason for existence and indeed the derivation of its name is based on its commitment to conciliation and arbitration in workplace disputes. Employers and employees turn to ACAS to resolve their problems every day. If these guys can’t come to an amicable agreement then who can?

ACAS employees who are members of the Public and Commercial Services union walked out this week in protest over what they described as unmanageable workloads and generally poor working conditions. In their defence the union has contended that this action didn’t come out of nowhere. They say ACAS staff have flagged up their concerns repeatedly, but months of talks have produced an impasse. The Union argues that since last summer’s decision to abolish fees for taking a workplace grievance to an employment tribunal, the number of tribunals has soared by 90%. The strain is showing, on both the system and its officers. Industrial relations, ACAS’s specialty, appear to have broken down.

If there was an easy answer to this problem then employer and employee would surely have found it. Workplace relationships and staff motivation are complex issues, with variations from one organisation and one individual to the next.

Jane Systems offers you:

A HR system that encourages your staff to take responsibility for their future, take pride in their performance and have confidence in their career development.

A service that meets every current […]

Auto-Pilot?

In particular, the four-legged machines seen trying to open doors in their laboratory this week reminded people of pet dogs.

Watching a robot dog “figure out” how to open a door is an eerie experience, and people can be forgiven for thinking these actions are being taken with no outside help. The truth is that human guidance is still essential. While the machines do support onboard computing, remote control is what makes these “pets” do what they do. That doesn’t detract from the progress Boston Dynamics are making. Their remarkable product range includes the SandFlea, which drives along flat surfaces like a remote-controlled car and can make vertical jumps of 30 feet, and the Cheetah, a four-footed creation that can run at 28 miles per hour. That’s approximately the same speed as an in-form Usain Bolt.

The debate continues about whether this level of engineering innovation will be good or bad news for the human workforce. How threatened should we feel?

There’s no substitute for the real thing, and while automation in the workplace can take plenty of tasks out of human hands, nuanced human intelligence is still needed to make good use of technology.

Jane Systems has spent two decades maintaining the delicate balance between automation and ingenuity, and the success of that balance is perfectly illustrated in the Workflow module. Jane Workflow transforms your HR system from simple record keeping into a fully automated system which does the work for you. Many business processes can be repetitive and subject to error. If you map these processes onto workflows, though, you can automate and monitor them. Productivity rises, the potential for error falls and consistent quality becomes a way of life.

Increasing automation in the workplace doesn’t necessarily […]

The Avoidable Fights

In the ten months since the UK Supreme Court ruled that employment tribunal fees were unlawful, the number of tribunal cases has, not surprisingly, risen sharply. While we applaud the principle of justice being accessible to those who need it, not just those who can afford it, one of the practical upshots is an employment law tribunal system creaking under the weight of claims. The three years from 2014 to 2017 when fees were payable saw a 70% decline in case numbers, and the number is now rising again just as steeply.

Some advocate mediation as a useful problem-solving tool, and we’re certainly in favour of potential conflict being snuffed out before sparks turn to flames. The emotional and professional cost to an individual of nursing a grievance can be ruinous. Even when a tribunal gives them the opportunity to make themselves heard and gain compensation, restitution or closure, the road to that outcome can be hard and damaging. It’s difficult not to wonder what’s gone so badly wrong with HR procedure and practice that this is the long-drawn-out result. It’s difficult to accept that nothing could have been done to steer a different course.

Sometimes people and organisations just don’t fit, and the sooner they part ways the better it is for all concerned. But how often do relations between good employees and good employers reach breaking point for avoidable reasons?

Make your policies understandable and reasonable. Don’t just follow rules to the letter, honour their spirit. Let your people know they really are your people and see how that impacts on their loyalty and performance.

And have a system in place that smoothly converts your good intentions into good practice.

How much easier would it be […]

The Charity Challenge

At the Safeguarding Summit of March 6th between the Charity Commission and the Office for Civil Society, four key areas of priority were identified for the sector

Leadership, culture and values

Law, regulation and the statutory framework

Capacity and capability in charities around safeguarding

Responsibilities and reporting, accountability and transparency

As a long-standing partner to Britain’s charities we’re proud to stand beside them in their efforts, and we’re equally proud to deliver a service that precisely matches these stated priorities.

Leadership, culture and values

The Jane self-service portal has been praised as a motivational tool that gives your people responsibility for maintaining their employee records, encourages them to seek on-the-job training and take pride in the results, and generally immerse themselves in your organisation’s values.

Giving employees this responsibility doesn’t just make them more invested in your organisation and your processes, it frees up management time and gives your leaders more time to lead.

Law, regulation and the statutory framework

Jane software is designed with compliance in mind. You can create any number of user-defined fields to specify statutory action you want your people to take, and the system will monitor it, record it and flag up action or inaction to the designated manager you want to notify.

To take just one example, Jane incorporates a GDPR-focus that enables you to keep track of employee consent for use of their data, and issues immediate alerts to notify you of any changes in consent status. Jane gives you all the tools you need to stay compliant.

Capacity and capability in charities around safeguarding

Jane software enables your managers to monitor and contribute to the hiring process, pooling knowledge to deliver the best possible outcome. It delivers accurate candidate tracking and management, and stringent monitoring of “ready for work” […]

Take Care of Yourself – That’s an Order

Today’s news that the British Army is launching a £1.6m advertising campaign to demonstrate it can offer emotional support to recruits from all backgrounds has attracted scorn from some quarters on social media, but for those of us who understand the value of a positive working environment it represents very good news indeed.

This modernising step follows a positive trend which has also seen the army embrace language learning to improve communication. From 2018 on, no British officer will be promoted above the rank of Captain without being able to demonstrate proficiency in a suitable language. In prioritising cultural awareness and communication skills, the armed forces are acknowledging that, whatever the situation, the isolation of “Little Britain” has no value in a complex and dangerous modern world.

The isolation of individuals clearly has no value either, and the video central to the advertising campaign underlines that point. The voiceover tells us of a soldier’s fears that “it feels like, as a man, you can never express your emotions”. Joining the armed forces, though, is portrayed as a far more positive, inclusive experience:

“Once you’re in, you realise no one is a machine”

“There’s always someone there to talk to, or even just make you laugh”

How many of our workplace problems could be minimised or even solved altogether by better communication?

The Jane Workflow module transforms cumbersome, labour intensive HR record keeping into a fully automated system. It sets triggers for action and notification according to your needs, and it ensures that managers and their teams are kept 100% informed. By automating “calls to action” we deliver an increased employee response rate to important corporate messages.

Jane Self Service software increases communication between managers and staff, enabling decision makers to […]

Stay home. Lie down. Get better.

The CIPD are answering “yes” to both questions. Their survey of 1,000 UK organisations, published today, reveals that 86% of employers have seen staff come to work when clearly unwell, with high numbers also willing to work while on holiday. Not surprisingly a large majority of employers are happy to accept this behaviour, but should they be? Struggling in to work when ill is hardly a recipe for a swift return to full health, and while we may tell ourselves we’re performing at optimum level, general tiredness and discomfort are usually enough to knock people off their stride. Throw in specific symptoms – a cough, a sneeze and a splutter every five minutes, or a wince-inducing ache in muscles or joints – and you have a dedicated professional working at nowhere near full capacity, with the prospect of them being below par for an extended period. Those of us who end up catching the germs our gallant colleagues bring in won’t thank them either, and where workplaces host sickness “relays” with bugs being passed from one member of staff to another for weeks on end, overall performance can suffer disastrously.

Why do we insist on dragging ourselves to work when it’s in everyone’s best interests for us to take a sick day? And why do employers continue to let it happen?

Rather than simply applauding people for making it into work, why not have a HR system that allows you to track what they actually do while they’re there? Jane’s self-service and authorised user software enables managers to step back from day to day administration of a HR record and see what activities their people are starting and completing. The Jane personnel module delivers tailored management […]

Happy Tax Day

Plenty of Americans left things to the last minute; as of last Friday, the Internal Revenue Service was still waiting for approximately 40 million people to make their submissions. As well as being tax deadline day, April 17th was also the last opportunity to make a contribution to an individual retirement account for it to count against 2017 income. All in all, American taxpayers had plenty to think about yesterday.

British taxpayers have records to keep and deadlines to meet, of course, but for the majority of them the week to week and month to month responsibility of payroll administration lies in the hands of their employers. The task of accurately remunerating employees and correctly enrolling them in pension schemes may not be glamorous but it’s absolutely business-critical. Workplace Pension reform compels employers to enrol their people into a suitable scheme, and failure to comply can land you in hot water with HMRC, not to mention testing the patience and loyalty of the people working for you.

Over the past two decades we’ve worked hard to earn the trust of leading names in education, housing, charities, regulatory bodies and a range of commercial sectors. There’s no magic formula for what we do. It’s just a matter of listening to our customers and applying a combination of creativity and technical skill to deliver what you ask for.

One thing you frequently ask for is flexibility, and Jane Payroll software certainly ticks that box. It’s configurable to match your business needs, however frequently they may change, and as your organisation grows you can be sure that Jane will continue to give you the support you need, when you need it. Cumbersome and labour-intensive payroll processes can be seamlessly replaced […]