Why Your HR Software Isn’t The Answer for Your Employee Directory

5 minutes • Oct 18, 2016HR
Employee Directory and Tacos. Ya, it's a thing.

How does your company manage its staff directory? You know, the one you probably rarely use? If you’re like many organizations, you’re either using a spreadsheet (I’m so sorry) or a feature out of some HR software. How’s that workin’ for ya?

I’m not knocking HR software. Workday, ADP, Namely and BambooHR are great options. For HR. Even these companies advertise their products less as employee software and more as “human resource software service” so that “HR professionals can focus their time on meaningful work” and “for companies seeking a single comprehensive system to manage their human capital.”

This is all fine and good if you’re in HR and need to manage your people. It’s not so great, however, for the employees who may just want to find a person in the organization they may need to speak with about a project or question.

The Problem with HR Software

HR and HRIS systems are built for payroll, benefits, talent management, performance reviews and reporting. They do a great job at helping growing companies ditch their manual spreadsheets and automate their records into a centralized database. These are so effective, there are at least 400 you can research yourself to compare features, pricing and ratings. We recommend you do if you’re still using a spreadsheet to manage your resources.

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But if you’re looking for software specifically built to help every employee find and know the people they work with and what they do so they can be more productive, more connected and more self-sufficient, you’re barking up the wrong tree. HR software isn’t going to be appreciated nearly as much by the average employee as it is for those employees in HR. Sure, your employees may love being able to go into the HR system to update their benefits allocations, but are they really going to use it to search for some guy in sales who can help them with Project Widget? I don’t think so.

A Real Employee Directory

There are some organizational chart software vendors (ahem), that provide software built with the employee in mind, not the HR department. Of course, HR can reap the benefits as well because they aren’t fielding calls for employee contact information or having to update company org charts. The software was designed to help both, the employees and HR.

Like the HR software, org chart software is a landing place for employee-related data. Org chart software may not be the place to update benefits or look at your latest performance review but is the place your employees will actually want to go to find any person in your organization. If it sounds like a simple employee address book, that isn’t all that exciting or new, think again.

Just as with most things and practices technology has touched, the modern employee directory does a heck of a lot more than a simple name and number lookup. It puts employees and their profiles at the fingertips of everyone in your company. What does that do? It improves efficiencies and builds relationships that may not have ever happened otherwise. Don’t believe me?

A Day in the Life of A New Hire

In one company who uses org chart software with an employee directory, a new hire was brought on and given the quick tour. Their manager eased them into their new role, setting them up on their computer and email, downloading appropriate company mobile apps, hooking up their phones and introducing them to a few of their team members. They were shown the break room, the bathroom and the conference room. They were issued their badge and given an employee number. This was the norm for any new hire.

After attending the new hire orientation, it was off to the races. He started to receive emails from team members and others. Few welcomed him but instead, attached documents and to-do items they hoped he’d tackle for them. One of the projects included writing a press release announcing a new large customer win. He was given the name and contact information of the company and its CEO, who agreed to be interviewed for the piece. He was also given the name of the media contact the release should note. An email was forwarded from the sales team about the value of the account.

That was it. Get to it. But he didn’t know the media contact, wasn’t introduced to anyone in sales, and didn’t have quite enough information to write a compelling press release. He walked over to his manager’s office to ask him who he could contact, but she was in a meeting. He asked a coworker sitting nearby and he said he’d get him the names as soon as he could. An hour or so went by and the new hire still had nothing to work with. So he waited.

In the meantime, a nice coworker walked down the aisle of cubicles and told everyone that if they were hungry, she was going to order delivery and just to shoot her a text of what they wanted to order. He was hungry and that sounded like a great idea, but he didn’t know who she was or how to reach her. He didn’t want to bother his coworkers again, so he decided to just get something from the vending machine for lunch today. So sad.

A Better Day in the Life of a New Hire

While this is a theoretical story, it isn’t uncommon for new hires. They are given little to know coworker information and expected to be productive. Sure, our guy here could have winged it and written the release without speaking to anyone internally, but the release would have been thin. His first project would have been mediocre at best. And he was hungry.

Instead, part of his onboarding process could have included introducing him to the company’s org chart software. He could have downloaded it on his mobile phone and had all the information he could possibly need at his fingertips.

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Here’s how this scenario could have gone. He could have searched the software using the word “sales.” He could have then filtered that search to include the name of the company who was landed. Bingo. Every sales person who touched that account would have popped up, along with their contact information, location and if they were in the office that day.

He could have clicked on the person’s photo, (yes, there would have been a photo) so he could have started to get to know who these people he works with actually look like, and he would have been presented with the sales guy’s contact info. In one tap, he would be connected to Bob.

Now, this may not seem like a big deal, but this simple process just saved our new hire hours of time and productivity. It also enabled him to make his first friend. He and Bob found out they both went to the same college and have a penchant for street tacos. This is great because our new hire is hungry and Bob said there was a taco joint nearby they could meet at for lunch.

Of course, if the new hire had access to this org chart app, they would have been able to search by team and see the nice girl who offered to order delivery is named Jane. He knew this because he could match her picture to what he remembered her to look like. He would have texted Jane straight from the app and put in his order. Tacos, of course.

Typical HR software would never have these capabilities, nor would have been as accessible. Org chart software, the right org chart software, has the ability to connect people in more ways than just contact information. Employees can upload photos and personal information that helps others in the company find exactly who they are looking for with little to no effort. The result? A happier, more productive and efficient workforce. And tacos.

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