Hybrid working
8 min read
3 June 2020

How Microsoft 365 helps HR professionals

Kelly van der Horst
hybrid working

More and more organisations are basing their digital workplace on Microsoft 365, a cloud-based platform that includes a huge variety of essential workplace tools including Outlook, Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), SharePoint, Microsoft Teams, Yammer, the Power Platform and more. Microsoft 365 provides many benefits, from driving efficiency to supporting collaboration to enabling full-on digital transformation; it has also proved critical in recent months in facilitating remote working during the current pandemic.

Microsoft 365 is a diverse and powerful platform that has the potential to positively impact almost every role within an organisation. It's particularly useful for support functions such as IT, Communications and HR; in fact, Microsoft 365 is excellent news for HR professionals because it helps them drive efficiencies across core HR processes while also supporting deeper HR-related objectives such as delivering a  strong employee experience.

In this post, we are going to explore why and how Microsoft 365 helps HR functions.

How does Microsoft 365 help HR professionals?

At a high level, Microsoft 365 supports HR professionals and teams in four major areas:

1. Improving Employee Experience

Increasingly HR functions are recognising that employee experience, the overall experience that an employee has with their employer across multiple touchpoints, impacts factors such as talent retention and the ability to attract new hires.

Employee experience goes beyond looking at employee engagement and takes a more holistic and strategic look at the employee value proposition on offer throughout an employee's time at a company. This includes how employees experience technology every day. Microsoft 365 can play its part in driving a better everyday experience of the digital workplace, improve important processes like onboarding and learning & development, and even help nurture a positive organisational culture that can impact employee experience.

2. Driving efficiency

Driving more efficient HR processes, services and support will always be a priority for HR functions and here Microsoft 365 can play a significant role, transforming and even revolutionizing core HR processes to make them more efficient. This happens in several different ways, including: Driving more efficient HR processes, services and support will always be a priority for HR functions and here Microsoft 365 can play a significant role, transforming and even revolutionizing core HR processes to make them more efficient. This happens in several different ways, including:

  • Helping to drive the standardization of HR practices across larger organisations by giving everybody access to information and documents.

  • Digitising manual or email-based processes through workflow and providing tools and information that help drive self-service for HR transactions such as booking annual leave, taking the pressure off busy HR support teams.

  • Using automation to again streamline HR transactions and provide information for employees, using tools like chatbots.

  • Providing reporting dashboards for people and workforce analytics through Power BI.

3. Supporting flexible working

Cloud platforms like Microsoft 365 were already enabling more and more flexible working, with the ability for employees to work from anywhere. The current pandemic has exponentially accelerated and increased the need to work flexibly and remotely; this will continue to be critical going forward, even after the pandemic is over. Giving employees a choice of where they work from home or from a different location has also always been attractive for employees.

4. Supporting collaboration across the HR team

Microsoft 365 contains a number of tools such as Yammer, Microsoft Teams and SharePoint team sites that allow HR teams to communicate, collaborate, coordinate their activities and also access documents. In large organisations with multiple locations, these tools allow dispersed HR functions to truly work as one team. They can also allow HR functions to coordinate HR activities with HR partners, as well as drive key HR projects.

How does a platform like Workspace 365 help HR professionals?

One frequent issue with Microsoft 365 is that it can be overwhelming and almost too powerful. There are multiple tools on offer, many of which facilitate new ways of working; governance, coordination and change management are needed to get the most out of Microsoft 365.

For this reason, many organisations choose to maximise the value, adoption and ROI of Microsoft 365 by also investing in a companion digital workplace product that sits alongside Microsoft 365 and delivers a focused digital workplace experience suited to the specific needs of their employees. A platform like Workspace 365 can be hugely beneficial to HR teams, partly because they can create exactly the kind of digital employee experience they want while still leveraging all the power of Microsoft 365.

Let's look at some of the ways a platform like Workspace365 can help HR teams.

1. Creating one place to go

A typical complaint from employees about their digital workplace is that it is highly fragmented; they need to go to multiple applications to get things done, information is hidden in silos and wastes vast amounts of time. Workspace 365 creates one single, attractive, relevant, and secure digital workplace environment accessed through Single Sign-On where employees go to access different apps, find information, and get things done. This contributes to a better overall employee experience removing frustration, reducing information overload, and supporting efficiency.

2. Driving adoption of Microsoft 365 tools that drive efficiency

Because you can control the workspace you can also drive adoption of tools or elements of a SharePoint intranet that also help to streamline HR processes and drive HR self-service. By highlighting these tools, providing easy access via Single Sign-On and sharing resources, you can really drive adoption of the systems you want. You can even integrate Forms or Power Apps to research your employee satisfaction rate, request leave or even submit claims from their workspace.

3. Providing easy access to key documents and policies

Workspace 365 provides easy access to key documents and information that can also help to drive the standardisation of HR practices and self-service. This eliminates confusion, avoids people from referring to out-of-date documents and reduces the need to call HR or ask a colleague basic HR questions. You can create a tile on the workspace that displays important documents like an employee handbook, job descriptions, performance appraisal forms, salary scales, working conditions and much more.

4. Content targeting to ensure different roles and locations have the right HR information

Using a platform like Workspace 365 can help you to centralise all communication and information, but also ensures content is relevant to different roles, locations and divisions. Content targeting based on Active Directory groups means that managers with particular HR processes to carry out, people in different offices who might use different HR systems and multi-language groups only see the information that is relevant to them, or what they are allowed to see.

5. HR updates and notifications all in one place

Employees can get bombarded with emails with HR reminders, requests, approvals and updates. These can easily get missed in an inbox and create bottlenecks for approval processes. With Workspace 365, employees and managers can see these all in one convenient place using the announcement centre and then carry out any tasks far more efficiently and quickly.

6. Micro Apps to drive HR self-service

Workspace 365 can help you build custom Micro Apps that are brilliant for driving self-service for key HR tasks such as booking annual leave, logging an HR support ticket, organising performance reviews, reviewing mandatory training and more. Through integrations with HR systems, you can create Micro Apps that help employees get things done quickly, without having to access the HR systems themselves.

7. Chatbots to support busy HR support staff

Chatbots use AI and natural language processing to allow employees to find information and complete transactions by having more natural-style conversations. Chatbots are excellent for taking the pressure off busy HR helpdesks by automating simple tasks, such as logging a ticket or by leading people to FAQs and other information. The Workspace 365 platform can incorporate an HR support chatbot, for example.

8. Supporting remote working

Going forward, remote working is going to play a far bigger role in how we work. Workspace 365 presents a secure environment that can be accessed from anywhere and successfully supports any scaled-up remote working capability. The workspace automatically adapts to each individual's role, device, location, operating system, browser and more.

9. Employee onboarding

An important process for HR professionals is employee onboarding. This helps reduce employee turnover, makes new starters feel more welcome, and drives efficiency, helping new starters get up to speed. Workspace 365 can bring all the information, checklists and forms new hires need into one place; they can even get access before their first day.

10. Providing resources for HR professionals

Workspace 365 can also help you to create a focused space for a distributed HR team to collaborate and communicate with access to all the resources, systems and documents you need. This helps global HR teams be more connected global HR teams.

Arrange a free Workspace 365 demo

Both Microsoft 365 and Workspace 365 are powerful platforms. Combining them can prove highly beneficial for HR professionals and functions, helping them achieve a whole range of strategic and operational objectives. The best way to experience Workspace 365 is to try it for yourself and arrange a free demo.

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