How are you proactively managing employment risks at the front line?

Nick Pye |


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Sainsbury’s have announced that they are intent on shedding 2,000 jobs in HR and then revealed they’re proposing updates to their HR systems.

It makes you wonder whether they’ve thought about how those systems will quickly have the capability to replace 2,000 dedicated HR professionals serving the wider workforce.

But without a strong team of HR professionals, who will be left at the sharp end of dealing with matters associated with employee relations and wellbeing, such as flexible working requests, grievances or disciplinary hearings? These are not lightweight tasks and no system can replace the personal touch required to deal with sensitive matters. Will the store managers and supervisors be doing these now, rather than the HR professional that used to be there for that purpose, equipped with the knowledge and skills to deal with them?

And in the absence of HR professionals, who will create the frameworks and the environment for good management?

Sainsbury’s is just one of many companies that need to ask themselves – without HR, who will be the agents of change and will the managers be left to do the coaching as well as the policing?

Do you have the correct systems in place and are your managers properly and fully equipped to deal with matters that employees throw at them, each and every day?

A CIPD report stated that, “until line managers are recognised as the strategic partners of HR and given the recognition for their responsibilities, a lack of accountability to people management will continue.”

If you devolve responsibilities to people managers, they feel empowered, they’re better equipped to do the right things and they’re far more accountable for the management of their team members.

So, let’s hope that Sainsbury’s have a well thought through plan of ensuring that their management teams possess the skills, knowledge and experience going forward – they will need to be not only managers, but employment law experts and policy enforcement officers, too.

We’re in favour of empowering managers because it reduces cost, it reduces risk, it improves managers job satisfaction and motivation. And, if any remain, it also enhances the role of HR teams!

Let’s hope that their intended updates to their HR systems focus on the needs of line managers, which should include in-built compliance and legislative guidance content and have rules based workflow processes driven by relevant Company policies and associated employment law. That would go some way in ensuring that they provide a framework for all managers at all stores to deliver HR related services that are both consistent and compliant, in every way.

For more information on managing HR risks at the front line, download our white paper!

Did you find this article useful? Youmanage HR offers software to help you streamline your HR processes and ensure compliance within your company. We also write articles on HR, leadership, employee engagement, health & well-being and much more. Start a free trial of Youmanageget in touch to ask questions, or check out our blog to help you to deliver HR best practice in your business.

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Nick has more than 25 years of leadership experience, where he has held a variety of executive positions spanning marketing, business development, HR product strategy and has been CEO of Youmanage since 2010. Nick acquired the Youmanage business in 2010 and led the renewed vision and go-to-market definition of the Youmanage platform for its official re-launch in September 2013. With significant and continued product development, he continues to steer Youmanage as an industry leading cloud HR software provider. Work aside, Nick retains his huge enthusiasm for music in both trumpet and bagpipe playing!