How do you deal with leave requests at a short notice?

Leave requests at a short notice could cause some serious problems to your business when your day-to-day operation depends on employees being present. LeaveWizard provides a useful and conflict-free way to handle such situations.

In today’s world, change has become the norm. We have learned to expect change and to adapt to it when it happens. This is one of the greatest qualities of our brains and we should be very thankful for it.

However, there are also many cases when things need to be planned such taking leave like Holiday. As much as employers try to be flexible, when it comes to business continuity, it is often essential to have some rules in place.

At LeaveWizard, listening to feedback from our customers is the bare minimum expected from anyone involved. And more often than not, the greatest ideas that make our product useful have come from our customers.

Like this one – it would be really useful if there was a rule to restrict booking Holidays to a number of days in advance. For example – I have a week holiday coming up but I must book it at least 2 weeks ahead. And all for a valid reason – because my job is critical to the business and my boss must find someone to do it while I am away.

The cost of not having someone do the job or to find a short-term replacement with no notice is just too high for the business to pay. This is such a common scenario and we’ve wasted little time in implementing it.

To read more about how this new feature works, visit our customer support portal here.

5 TED talks every HR must watch

In any business context, regardless of the products or services you offer, one rule applies across the board: people matter. When it comes to business success, your employees are your single most important resource – and one of the costliest, as well. Sometimes HR experts forget that they should not only find the most talented people for each position, but also stoke their passion to do their best and keep improving. Here are 5 great TED talks every HR expert should consider watching.

1. Mary Schaefer – Putting the human back into human resources.

In about 10 minutes or less Mary Schaefer, a HR consultant will explain what human resources mean. She explains how to infuse more humanity back to the work place for those human beings who happen to be employees.

What can we learn from this talk?

We learn more about the difference between treating employees humanly or humanely. Think of it this way, can you deny your car what it needs? Why then should you mistreat your employees? Human beings are feeling beings and they need to be treated humanely. It is important for employers to address the very human needs required by employees such as; being appreciated, feeling of belonging and ensuring employees meaningful contributions are taken into consideration.
Employers should always work towards helping their employees achieve more i.e. helping employees get promotions at the job places. In a study conducted in U.S.A, 70% of the employees are disengaged, and 20% actively disengaged with their employers.
Meeting the employees’ requirement will improve the engagement and therefore higher productivity is expected. You can’t undermine employee engagement, as it is always expensive to the business in the long run.
Mary Schaefer advocates for employers to honor someone’s worth at work.

2. Patrick Vermeren – The uncomfortable truth of HR and leadership development. 

A fanciful TED talk by Patrick Vermeren explaining the uncomfortable truth of HR. It is a story built on his personal experience as a HR manager for years until he quit his job in 1996. He explains the wrong practices used by HR experts in businesses. It turn out that there are many models which give the wrong information. He gives an enticing story of Pete, a man who had been a successful manager for many years until a time he had to take a test based on an entirely crazy theory “Spiral Dynamics”, which offer an alternative explanation for human evolution. After the test he lost his position as a manager and got fired a few months later. 5 years later he haven’t found a new job, because he felt so depressed, he and her wife had to sell their house, and they live in a small apartment.

What can we learn from this talk?

Patrick Vermeren, gives an explanation why the use of employee performance per year isn’t an effective way to measure employee capabilities. Companies uses this metric to determine the pay gaps and bonuses given to employees. Employee who perform poorly in each year’s performance score is subjected to training. The training models used to train the staff are sometimes wrong.
In some cases companies fire the bottom 10% of employees based on yearly performance score. This is idea was brought on board by Jack Welch former CEO, General Electric. He argues that this is the worst idea ever. The real truth according to Patrick Vermeren is that giving people a score has zero effect on performance.

3. Regina Hartley – Why the best hire might not have perfect resume. 

In about 10 minutes Regina Hartley, will be giving a sense of who a perfect hire should be. As a hiring manager you are poised with a dilemma when choosing from applications made by 2 University graduates who applied for a job at your company, both qualified for the position. According to Regina Hartley, there are 2 kind of people. The silver spoon and the scrappers. The silver spoon character are people who had all the advantages in life, and they were destined for success. The scrappers are people who had to go through tremendous drawbacks to get to the same position.

If you whole life is engineered toward success, how will you handle the tough time? For example in her company an employee who had graduated from an elite university couldn’t do manual work, to better understand an operation, and eventually he quit the job. At this point she describes this person a silver spoon. Think of scrapper at the same position, someone who had experienced early hardships anywhere from poverty, abandonment, death of their parents, learning disabilities to alcoholism and violence.

What can we learn from this talk?

The story of Steve Jobs, a person who never completed his college, and ended up becoming one the world’s most renowned entrepreneur. He was brought up in the scrapper’s kind of life, he could do anything to ensure that he succeeded in his business.
Among those entrepreneurs in U.S.A who experienced post traumatic growth in their life. They now view their learning disability as a desire for difficulty which provides them as advantage because they became better listeners and paid great attention to detail. Without this experiences they couldn’t have developed the muscle required to become successful.
That is why you need to hire a scrapper.

4. Joe DeLoss – How a new lens on “HR” can reduce turnover and the cycle of poverty. 

Why Joe DeLoss a founder of fried chicken empire doesn’t love fried chicken, but loves HR? It could sound weird, but he explains it like you would never think before. He have really discovered that not too many people love HR. He combines entrepreneurship and creating a social impact as significant pillars in building his empire.
When hiring employees he really consider the really disadvantage in a bid to reduce turnover and the cycle of poverty. By this he have achieved the most reliable work force.

What can we learn from this talk?

HR is disruptive – If human resource is conducted properly there are massive advantages that comes with it i.e. profits to the business as you will spend less money re-hiring, training and on wages.

5. Rahim Sajan – Resourceful Human vs Human Resources. 

Where are we now? What are we doing? Where are we going? These are questions Rahim is trying to get an answer. He articulately uses the word VUCA world. This means that the world has become volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous due to many factors.

There is a great difference between resourceful human and human resources. The education system today have worked on creating a higher number of human resources. The lack of purpose in the education is going to continuously produce the same. Human resources struggle to adapt to change while resourceful human adapts to change effectively.  Human resources are sometimes not innovative, and they fail to adapt to the ever changing market.

What can we learn from this talk?

We need to ensure that we are producing more resourceful human as opposed to the current system where people are trained for the job market that is human resources.
The purpose of our life should shift from creating more human resource, and embrace the production of more resourceful humans through our education system.

Conclusion.

Certainly, these are some of the best TED talks every HR professional should have watched. The amazing guidance given by experienced HR experts will without doubt take your business to the next level. Understanding how to effectively manage your human resource is significant to any business today. Don’t watch once! Watch twice, and think twice.

Happy Holiday Season from the LeaveWizard team!

Happy Holidays from LeaveWizard

​Last year, for Christmas, we sent out hundreds of hand made, signed, 2016 annual calendars to all of our customers.

We received great feedback and we were grateful that we could make a few of you smile.

I am sorry that we couldn’t do the same again. But this year, we wanted to do something different.

Let me explain…

We have been toying with the idea of supporting BookTrust for some time. BookTrust supports over 2.5 million families to read with their children with books, guidance and resources.

It feels like the right thing to do for us. Our application helps save tons of paper, which gets wasted on holiday forms.

And we have the opportunity to help change children’s lives. Because we believe that children who read for pleasure are likely to be happier, do better at school and be more emotionally prepared for life.

So instead of spending hundreds of pounds on paper and postage, this year we decided to send an electronic message and donate the difference to the BookTrust.

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We hope that you can join us in helping more children get their first book and learn to love reading.

Regardless of what holidays you celebrate, we wanted to wish you a Happy Holiday Season and a prosperous 2017!

Plamen, Rich,
and the rest of the team at LeaveWizard

How to deal with an “oh crap!” situation with you SaaS product

We recently moved our service to a new architecture which allows us to deploy changes several times per day with zero downtime as well as improving our service availability, scalability and performance. In two words – No brainer.

As part of the move however we did encounter an incident which presented us with a huge challenge as well as a huge opportunity to test our communication and willingness to be transparent. And we think we passed the test. As well as having no complaints, one of our customers commented – “
No problem – these things happen. Good communication from you and the team on it”

Here is the timeline of what happened (and what worked for us)

1am GMT on 27th September – Live deployment was completed
8:30 am GMT – we understand that there is a problem with some users logging in
8:45 am GMT – we place a message on the login page advising users how to proceed
Rest of the day – we continue investigation while patiently responding to all support tickets
8:30 am GMT on 28th September – We discover the root cause of the issue
8:35 am GMT – the problem is corrected in production
8:45 am GMT – we amend the sign in page message the reflect the recent information
​9:00 am GMT – we make a decision to be completely transparent with our customers about the events
11:00 am GMT – we have a draft of the formal communication we are about to send to all administrative users
12:00 pm GMT – the send to list is finalised and the campaign is all set up
12:15 pm GMT – we send the message below to all our customers

12:20 pm GMT – we change the sign-in page message once more to reflect the latest understanding
3:00 pm GMT – this blog post is born

And here is the main communication we sent to all out customers

Subject: A day to forget yet a day to remember

Dear <First Name>,

In the 7 years that LeaveWizard has been running we have not had an incident like the one that happened yesterday, so I wanted to reach out to you and explain what happened.

On 27th September 2016 from 01:00 GMT until and 08:30 GMT on 28th September 2016 a recent deployment of LeaveWizard resulted in users having to change their passwords and some lost data.

What happened? – in Summary

As part of migrating to our new infrastructure a configuration setting was incorrectly configured which resulted in our production environment pointing at the wrong database.

Unfortunately, the cause of the problem was not immediately apparent, the symptoms were that users needed to reset their passwords but the initial conclusion was that this was due to the hardware change. It took a while for our development team to identify the root cause of the issue but as soon as the problem was found it was addressed.

We are looking to put steps in place to ensure this kind of thing does not happen again. If you like to more details about what happened you can read more below.

What we are asking you to do?

We are asking for your support today. Because our backup process looks only after the live database, we have no access to the events or approvals you may have added to the system between 1am GMT on 27th September and 8:30am GMT on 28th September.

Please could you double check any events, approvals or other changes you may have made in this time window and if you find something is missing to add it once more.

I would like to thank you for your patience and understanding over the last couple of days.
Kind regards
Rich Allen
Co-Founder LeaveWizard Ltd

What happened? – in Detail

In order to cope with the increasing popularity of the LeaveWizard platform it became necessary for us to migrate our infrastructure to make it possible for the service to cope with the increased demand without degrading performance.

As part of this move, in order to streamline our software delivery process and make it easier to ship new features, a new deployment process was introduced that required various configuration settings in order to correctly setup the environment for deployment.

Part of this deployment process takes the application through a staging environment which enables us to test the functionality prior to deploying it live. Once the application has passed testing on the staging environment it is promoted to our production environment and made live.

One of the settings, that controls the database that the production environment points to, was incorrectly set. This resulted in data being stored in a temporary database rather than the production database that is regularly backed up. Overnight, the temporary database was restored to its previous state which resulted in the days transactions being lost.
Why is it not going to happen again?We take looking after your data very seriously and are disappointed in ourselves for letting this happen, but we must learn from our mistakes to ensure this kind of problem does not happen again.

Therefore, we shall be working on a solution that helps to verify that the configuration is valid for the environment it is being deployed to prior to making any future deployment live. This solution will perform some automated checks prior to pushing the button to go live.

Is the entrepreneur within you ready for a challenge?

How exciting!
LeaveWizard is looking for a partner.

What does it mean to be a partner at LeaveWizard?

LeaveWizard is a modern global organisation built on many of the ideas presented by Peter Block in his book “Stewardship” – a nice summary can be found here http://keithdwalker.ca/wp-content/summaries/q-z/Stewardship.Block.pdf

We also like being pragmatic, having structure as flat as possible and adopting new practices when they make sense and comply with our core values – see http://www.leavewizard.com/about.html

Visiting partner – every partner begins life at LeaveWizard as a visiting partner. This means there is a period of 3-6 months for both sides to learn about each other and figure out if this is something we wish to carry on doing.

If you are looking to get involved with all sides of building and running SaaS business and you’re not afraid to get technical then this opportunity might be for you?!

if interested drop us a line 🙂

A new look for your leave management tool

We have some exciting news! We have been working with an expert user experience designer over the last couple of months to help us improve the look and feel of our application. While the work continues, we are now ready to release our fist “new look” version.

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​The majority of changes in this first release are on the administrator and line manager dashboards. You will notice the colours and styling of elements has changed throughout the application but there aren’t many functional or layout changes outside the dashboards so don’t worry about having to search for known functions elsewhere.

In the admin and line manager dashboards, the search employee section has moved to the top right and all the action buttons associated, including the request leave and absence buttons, have now been consolidated at the top of the page under the main menu.

The Notifications section to the right, which displays recent requests or messages, is now highlighted with clear action buttons under each item.

Throughout the application the styling of sections and links has changed to make them more obvious and usable.

We think this is a great step towards improving the user experience of LeaveWizard and we’re looking forward to your thoughts and comments.

​Rich & Plamen

Employee absence – how does it impact your business?

Absenteeism has always been a problem to business owners. In the US alone, absence costs an estimated $3,600 per year for a single employee. The is not so much caused by the employees being absent from work but by how effectively is the process being managed.

Most business owners that are employers of labour don’t have the right source of estimating the loss they face from absenteeism of employees. They don’t know how employee’s absence affects their income. The cost of employee’s absenteeism is enormous that if left unchecked, it might ruin the establishments’ financial results.

When talking about absence it will be wise to differentiate it from leave. Leave refers to scheduled absence from work. This could be a holiday or a planned training for example. Unscheduled absence examples are sickness or compassionate leave.

Reduction of absenteeism is something most managers engage in but they could be doing it inefficiently because of their choice of tools. The manual tracking of leave and absence cannot be done adequately and the accrued losses will create a lot of waste and will have negative financial impact. Regardless of the type of absence, there is always a cost associated with recording it in compliance with the company policies, reporting accurately and applying the necessary calculations to allowance, duration and limits.

To overcome all these, it is a good idea to implement an appropriate software tool that helps to monitor, track and calculate employee’s leave and absence. An automated electronic system could cut your leave and absence management costs by up to 67%. This is achieved by a combination of more efficient process of recording and approving leave and absence and control over who is on leave and at what time.

The loss employers incur as a result of unplanned absence is estimated to be around 30 percent of the payroll which is either absent workers, an indirect cost that amounts to the loss of productivity and the rest. Effective leave management software enables employers to control how worker book leave and ensure key workers are always available to ensure the running of the business is not interrupted.

Additionally an electronic system makes it easier to retrieve data about employee’s leave and absence and to easily prove compliance with employee laws and regulations.

Online leave and absence planners often provide a visible calendar which makes it really easy to see if your business may require additional help at certain times due to the level of absence.  This therefore makes it an invaluable tool for any business and one that could contribute to the efficient running of the organisation.

As an employer of people, you won’t be able to stop absenteeism but you can effectively manage it by hiring right leave and absence management software and implementing a system that is easy to operate and saves you lots of time and money.

What is your sickness allowance policy?

All companies work in different ways and one area that can vary drastically is how you handle sick pay, some companies might choose to pay for the first 4 days of sickness and the remainder would be paid as SSP whereas others may choose to pay for up to 8 days of sickness.

With the new Absence By Month report in LeaveWizard it is easier than ever to see how many days sickness an employee has taken throughout the year including what month the sickness was in.
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You can use the new report to identify patterns in sickness (was all of their sickness during the world cup summer months?) or simply identify who has taken the most sick days.

What do you think about the new report, will it help you to report on sickness within your company – how else could we improve it – we’d love to hear your thoughts.

When are your busy periods?

Many companies have a seasonal business model where they get extremely busy during specific periods throughout the year but are generally quiet at other periods. It is sometimes necessary for those companies to restrict the number of employees that can be off at any one time during those periods and thankfully LeaveWizard can support this with its Leave Restriction Periods.
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By using the Leave Restriction Period functionality it is possible for an administrator to configure a period of time where a maximum number of employees can be off – this might be during a busy Christmas period or the summer might be especially busy for other companies.

When an employee tries to book a date within a restricted period, in which someone has already booked time off, they will be informed that the maximum staff on leave for that period has been reached and they will be unable to request the leave.

Instead, they would need to ask a line manager or an administrator to record the leave for them and in this case, as seen in the image below, the admin or line manager would be able to override the business rule if this was an exceptional circumstance.

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Is your business seasonal? Do you have times when only a specific number of people can be off at the same time? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Does your company use duvet days?

Duvet days are a relatively new concept that is creeping over from the US and can often tell a lot about a company’s culture.
If you don’t know what they are then the following article Feeling rough? Take a duvet day will give you a bit more of an explanation but if that is too long to read then I shall try and summarise them here:

“A duvet day is an additional benefit offered to employees as part of their holiday allowance which allows them to request time off at short notice without having to come up with a poor excuse as to why they were “ill”.

Upon their return to work, after a discussion with a supervisor or line manager the employee will be able to decide whether to take that day as a holiday or to take it as unpaid leave”

By offering duvet days to their employees companies can be seen to be more flexible and understanding. In a world where businesses are trying to find and attract the best talent, offering this kind of benefit could help as a differentiator amongst the competition.

One possible downside of offering this kind of benefit is the potential overhead in administrating it – not only do you need to deal with holiday requests but also duvet day requests. The obvious resolution to this however is to make sure that you choose the right online leave management system that can handle a simple conversion from a duvet day to a deduction in holiday allowance.

Do you currently implement a duvet day policy? If not, is it something that you may consider in the future? What other benefits in kind do you offer your employees to help you stand out in a crowded marketplace?

We’d love to hear your thoughts.