Our parent company, Presagia, is contributing a column to each issue of this year's @Work Magazine, a publication by the Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC). If you haven't had a chance to check out this excellent resource, we highly recommend that you do! DMEC provides best practice resources for our complex industry and @Work is one of their resources that we always stay on top of!
The 2020 column, Absence & Accommodation Technology, focuses on walking employers through the many considerations they should have as they research leave and accommodation technology, dive into the review process, implement their solution, and maintain a healthy relationship with their vendor post go-live. We’ll also be giving an insider’s look at the many pitfalls employers make when assessing and managing technology, with an eye to helping them avoid these common missteps.
As we did with last year's Technology and Absence Management series, we've created this blog series to share each 2020 article with you! In this post, we're sharing the September column, which looks at how employers can increase compliance and efficiency when they properly integrate their leave technology.
Employers turn to leave management technology primarily for efficiency and compliance, both of which require accurate data flowing from other human resources (HR) systems. Let’s discuss why these are indeed important goals and considerations you should take into account when implementing a new leave system.
When it comes to data integration and efficiency, the goal is to reduce redundant data entry. Your human resources information system (HRIS), payroll, and time and attendance (T&A) systems house data you need. Keying this a second time into your leave system largely negates the time-savings achieved by switching off spreadsheets into a dedicated system.
Compliance is critical because federal, state, and local leave laws, along with employer-specific policies, require data to determine:
- What leave laws apply to a leave request
- Has the employee met eligibility requirements, and
- How much entitlement does the employee have
Making the right calculations so that you don’t run afoul of leave laws requires high-quality data from the systems holding it. I’ve seen many employers embark on a leave system implementation only to discover bad data in their HR systems and use the implementation as the catalyst to correct this.
The first step to data success is reviewing the data you need and where it is. Leave system vendors should have standard file specifications for interfaces, and you should engage your IT/HRIS and HR software vendor to fully review these. It can also be helpful to ask your HR software vendor if they have any partnerships with absence management vendors as partnerships can mean faster integration services.
Generally speaking, the core types data you’ll be looking for are:
- Demographics data like names, addresses, and work locations
- Attendance data like hours worked and sometimes work schedules
- Absence data, both historical and current, to determine entitlement usage
You also need to take into account how the data will flow from one system to another. Can it be automatically fed over? Or do you have to manually transfer it? As it stands, HR software vendors are slow to offer application program interfaces (APIs) that include all of the necessary data for leave management and would allow for real-time data transfer. As a result, file-based interfaces are the industry standard. Most often, your HRIS will automatically export a comma separated values (CSV) file with the data to a transfer site from which your leave system will automatically import it.
All of this needs to take into account security best practices with the data being properly encrypted both in transit and at rest. This might happen daily, weekly, after each payroll cycle, or on another schedule. You’ll determine the best timing for your organization during implementation.
Once the interface is set up, it still requires monitoring. You’ll need to get familiar with the error reports your leave system offers; these are automated reports that are produced when there are errors in the data transmitted. Always keep an eye on these and correct any issues quickly as incorrect data, even when brief, can easily snowball into a larger problem.
Above all, when it comes to data and integration, collaborate! Work closely with your internal HRIS and information technology teams who know the most about your existing systems. Be sure to engage your HR software vendors to understand their integration requirements and limitations. Absence management technology is most effective when integrated with other systems, so this should be the backbone of your endeavors.