How EmployAbility Galway maintains Excellence Through People accreditation

September 8, 2017

How EmployAbility Galway maintains Excellence Through People accreditation

EmployAbility Galway was formally founded in 2004, after a successful pilot project launched in 2001. Since then, the organisation has been helping people with disabilities to find and keep meaningful employment, through individual mentoring and practical support.

As an award-winning company, they have set their organisational standards high and have been on a strong continuous improvement path over the last number of years.

In 2014 they implemented OnePageCRM to allow them to work collaboratively, provide better support to clients and get jobs done on time. The team were really impressed with the system, the reduction in wasted time, and the ability to have information instantly on hand even when out of the office.

In December 2016, they felt having prioritised systems to improve excellence in external customer service it was now time to focus on the internal customer.

I was really impressed with what OnePageCRM could deliver in terms of operations and service delivery” said Pauline O’Dwyer, company coordinator, “and I knew I wanted to find something equally impressive for developing our HR systems. Nothing less would do! I was given a People HR recommendation from a small multinational company locally and we signed up for the free trial in November 2016.

The team tried out People HR and they were so impressed with it they set up a customer account in January 2017.

Achieving excellence through people

Over the last number of years, the EmployAbility Galway team have won three business awards. Their co-ordinator, Pauline says that winning awards is as much about energising the team, as it is about raising the standard of service delivery. But there is one award she is keen to keep because of what it says about the organisation’s approach to people management – the Excellence Through People accreditation. The company were initially accredited in 2011.

I wanted to make sure we were looking after people, and developing and training them equally and fairly” Pauline explains. “We first achieved accreditation in 2011, and it’s something we’re really proud of maintaining.

The NSAI Excellence Through People accreditation holds Irish companies to a nationally recognised HR standard. It demonstrates their commitment to their people, and proves that they have the right human resource systems in place to maximise employee contribution, and to align people practises with organisational goals.

When the auditor came, we had to wrestle with the filing cabinet

In 2014, EmployAbility Galway had a visit from the Excellence Through People auditors. But while they passed the audit, Pauline said that their biggest struggle was wrestling with filing cabinets and spreadsheets, to thoroughly showcase their people practises.

It took us around a week to prepare for the audit” she explains. “We had to manually sift through the relevant records and documents, to prepare everything for the visit, and make sure everything was in order.

In January 2017, Pauline decided to anticipate their next audit, by digitalising and centralising the company’s HR operations. She moved from a trial account to a full account with People HR – and one of her first areas to target, was the company’s training programme.

People HR helps us ensure employees are trained thoroughly and fairly

Before we implemented People HR, it was difficult to see exactly what training people had completed. We had the paper training logs in people’s file and we had Excel sheets but the information wasn’t instantly on hand. We have a very small training budget, and I was concerned that we may not be upskilling our people to the level required to keep our skills up to date, and well honed”.

When we implemented People HR, we were instantly able to see an exact picture of everyone’s training, and whether it was completed, planned or in progress” Pauline says. “More importantly everyone could view their own training status.

With a bigger and clearer picture at our fingertips, we’re now doing a better job of making sure everybody receives their fair share of the training budget, and that the training is relevant. I was pleasantly surprised to see how much valuable training we had been able to access for free, and that there was an even spread of training for all the team.

We’re now building a permanent record of positive praise

One way of putting your people at the front of everything you do, is by showing recognition for the things they achieve. But one issue Pauline has always hoped to solve, is that a personal ‘thank you’ often gets lost with the passing of time.

It’s really important to share positive feedback face to face” Pauline says, “but over time, this gets forgotten. So what I did after implementing People HR, was I built a custom logbook screen within employee records, called the ‘positive feedback logbook’. When a customer, or a service provider, contacts us to say how well one of our employees have done, we add a record of this to the employee file.”

By doing this, Pauline says employees can flick through their own history of positive praise, as a permanent reminder of the great things they’ve done. She’s also delighted that it helps her to build a more balanced picture of employee performance and behaviour over the years.

An auditor could walk through the door tomorrow and we’d be prepared

EmployAbility Galway’s hard work and forward thinking is really starting to pay off. And with another possible audit right around the corner from the Excellence Through People accreditors, they feel confident that auditors could walk into the building any time they liked, and would instantly be shown whatever proof or documentation they wanted to see directly from People HR.

Before, we’d have all been in a mad rush by now, trying to get everything ready in advance” Pauline explains. “But since implementing People HR, we now feel like we’re in a place where an auditor could walk through the door tomorrow, and we’d be prepared.

Pauline feels so comfortable that her organisation’s HR is all taken care of, that she no longer feels reliant on Outlook or Excel. And now that her HR documentation is all centralised and under control, she says that her next step is to work on increasing employee interaction with the system.

I’m finding new ways to interact with my team, wherever they are in the County

Many of EmployAbility Galway’s employees work remotely. Staff don’t see one another every day but are in constant mobile and email contact. However, with People HR, everyone can see who is not available to take a call or answer a colleague query, due to annual leave via the phone app. People can also book annual leave and manage their timesheets from their phones. They can check their employee handbooks from the phone app, and access documents such as the contact number for the Employee Assistance Programme in seconds no matter where they are

Plus, she’s beginning to use the system to broadcast important company news that she feels would really excite her employees. For example, in February this year, EmployAbility Galway held a very successful event, attended by the Minister of State for Disability Issues and about 100 local employers. The photos and feedback from the event were instantly shared in the company news feed, along with a big thank you to everybody involved – and Pauline loves that this will stay on record forever.

I’m definitely the person getting the most use out of the system” she admits. “But employees are really starting to interact with it, explore their own training records, and catch up on company news – I’m excited for what the future has in store.

I must admit that one of my absolute favourite items is the task function” she adds. “This is all about getting things done and on time. I love being able to assign an HR task to myself or any of the team no matter how far in advance it needs to be done, knowing it will be followed up on and closed out on time. This is an absolutely fantastic facility, particularly for staff who are on long term leave, to make sure any they are signed off to new document changes and updated on news on their return to work

You can visit EmployAbility Galway’s website to learn more about their services.

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