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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 […]

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 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 […]

Mind the Gap

We’re still making progress, though, and the movement towards pay equality is gathering momentum.

Legislation introduced in 2017 compelled all companies, charities and public-sector bodies employing more than 250 staff to submit their gender pay figures by not later than April 4th.

The results are in, and they paint an unsatisfying picture;

Of the 10,014 employers who submitted data, eight out of ten pay men more than women.

There is no sector in the UK in which women have a pay advantage.

1,557 employers didn’t bother submitting any data at all.

The equalities watchdog will look into the employers who missed the April 4th deadline and hopefully secure their commitment to playing by the rules, not only in timely submission of data but in working to close the pay gap. We need these rules to be enforced. Across the private and public sectors the disparity is often striking. Trade Unions have traditionally supported those who seek fairer treatment in the workplace but Unite, the largest union in Britain, revealed a pay gap of 29.6% between the sexes, far above the national average of 18.4%. Even more notably, the teachers’ union NASUWT revealed that female educators are paid an average of 42.7% less than their male counterparts.

Jane’s Gender Pay Gap Analysis software delivers precision reporting on:

The average gender pay gap as a mean average

The average gender pay gap as a median average

The average bonus gender pay gap as a mean average

The average bonus gender pay gap as a median average

The proportion of males receiving a bonus payment and proportion of females receiving a bonus payment

The proportion of males and females when divided into four groups ordered from lowest to highest pay

It’s up to individual organisations how they face the challenge of […]

Prevention or Cure?

Microsoft’s Chief People Officer Katherine Hogan has communicated this to all members of staff and made it clear that such conduct is unacceptable. The tech giant deserves credit for acting decisively and making no attempt to sweep the news under the carpet and in fairness 20 bad apples in a global workforce of 124,000 is a very small minority. As with all cases of workplace harassment, though, it’s deeply regrettable that innocent people had to come to work in the morning and find themselves objectified and intimidated. Criticism still hangs over Microsoft after it was revealed that 118 cases of gender discrimination were made between 2010 and 2016, and only one of them was taken under consideration. The possibility remains that a class action lawsuit will be brought against Microsoft by multiple employees essentially complaining about the same problem. None of this is good news for one of the world’s most recognisable brands, and as a HR service provider to household names in the public and private sectors Jane Systems appreciates the importance of maintaining a reputation.

We help our clients protect their good names by advocating prevention, not cure.

We advocate having a system in place that helps you capitalise on your good intentions and make it clear what your expectations of your people are.

We advocate disciplinary and grievance procedures recorded with follow up action monitored for enhanced problem-solving. So the first time you investigate an example of inappropriate behaviour, you can put measures in place that won’t just act on it but will monitor the effectiveness of that action. One instance of harassment is too many and some offences deserve dismissal, but when faced with someone who has inadvertently crossed a line, employers […]

GDPR – Who’s Who?

At Jane Systems we’ve made it our business to be an information source for the General Data Protection Regulations, and as implementation on May 25th draws near we’re seeing our customers approach data protection with the same diligence and professionalism that they show in every other aspect of their work.

Data subjects

The core principle of GDPR is the enhancement of the rights of the individual when it comes to storage and use of their data. These individuals – data subjects – have the right to know exactly what their personal information is being used for, and how long and how securely it will be stored. Data subjects are no longer under pressure to give blanket consent for multiple uses of their details. They can drill down into the fine print of what’s being asked of them, and make sure the people who hold their data have their facts right. From a HR perspective, employees and job applicants are data subjects you’ll come across every day. As individual data subjects we all stand to benefit from this.

Data controllers

The data controller is the person or body that determines the type of personal data that’s required, as well as the objective and method of processing that data. An employer who need to hold their people’s dates of birth and national insurance and remuneration details to process their payroll and satisfy HMRC regulations fulfil the function of data controller. That gives them key responsibilities and increasing levels of obligation. Whatever action they take in this arena, they need to justify it.

Data processors

Data processors are essentially “middlemen”, taking responsibility for processing personal information on behalf of the data controller and following their instructions. The data processor may collect, record, store […]