Sep 28, 2010
When your organization serves more than 13,000 children, youth and families across nine locations, you must work efficiently. At UCAN, employees prefer to focus on helping clients—most of whom are abused or neglected children—rather than spending time searching for employee performance appraisals.
The Challenge of ConsistencySeveral factors motivated UCAN’s Human Resources Department to seek an alternative to paper records. “For the sake of efficiencyand the environment, we had to go paperless. More importantly, we needed a consistent scoring system and a better tracking system for performance appraisals,” says UCAN’s Vice President of Human Resources, Marjory Kostoglanis.
According to Marjory, keeping track of paper appraisal forms is an HR headache when your organization has 500 employees across nine locations. Add to that, UCAN’s ever evolving workplace. “Employees move around and change positions within our organization and supervisors come and go from year to year. In the past, when a new supervisor came into a department, they had to chase down performance appraisals. HR staff had to make copies of the paper appraisal forms and send them to the supervisors. Sometimes, appraisals were missing. And HR also had the ongoing challenge of determining whether the supervisors were completing all of their appraisals,” Marjory explains. Both supervisors and human resources staff were bogged down by this cumbersome paper trail.
UCAN’s Performance Appraisal Process
At UCAN, employees are evaluated after a 90-day introductory period. If the initial evaluation is satisfactory, it is followed by an annual performance review for every year of employment. The nature of social services work makes it difficult to evaluate. “It’s very subjective. There are no sales or production measures,” Marjory notes. One of her goals for a performance appraisal software was the ability to create a consistent performance scoring system. “Getting employee performance scores into our HR system helped with budgeting. We can now base merit raises on performance.”
Making the Change
Realizing the weaknesses of her existing appraisal system, Marjory began searching for a solution. The UCAN staff was already working with Sage Abra HRMS. Since LightWork is flexible enough to be used with any HR software system, it was a natural choice for UCAN. According to Marjory, her organization saved costs by not switching from Abra to an entirely different system.
From the start, LightWork’s ability to customize formats was an advantage. “You create evaluation fields based on your organization’s needs,” Marjory comments. While she found it difficult to get 70 supervisors to move from paper to electronic records, “Once you get through the transition, it’s worth it.” Throughout the process, LightWork’s technical support team was “always very responsive and helpful.”
Three years after launching LightWork, Marjory Kostoglanis continues to refine her processes, as the product does the same. “LightWork is continuously improving LightWork’s system. We recently upgraded to their web version of LightWork and I plan on giving an overview of it to my supervisors.” From a HR perspective, she sees several advantages to using LightWork. “It saves the HR staff time; we don’t have to create spreadsheets or track down missing appraisals anymore. That has made our department more productive.”
The biggest benefits, however, are experienced by supervisors. “Our supervisors really struggled with performance evaluations. Now, they’re completing them with greater consistency. LightWork gives the supervisors access to their employees’ histories, in one organized, secure, online location. All of the information they need is right at their fingertips.” She finds this especially valuable for new supervisors—LightWorkgets them up to speed with their employees faster.
Although it’s challenging to make a major change in organizational processes, employee feedback has been positive. Now that LightWork is fully implemented, “People like it,” Marjory says, adding, “HR demands a secure, comprehensive performance appraisal system. It’s the wave of the future.”