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Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust provides a comprehensive range of high-quality health services to more than 526,000 people living across the London Boroughs of Lewisham, Greenwich and Bexley.

Since the Trust was formed in 2013 there has been a keen focus on resourcing and more recently the Human Resources (HR) function restructured to become a centralised team. With this change came the need to harness technology in order to support the new organisational layout and the departments agenda.

A reliance on spreadsheets

Previously, the Trust would manage and record employee relations (ER) cases using multiple Excel spreadsheets. With an average of 40 – 50 open cases per month (excluding sickness absence) the Trust found there could be real variation in the information being recorded, as definitions were decided by each individual HR advisor.

Victoria Tyler, Head of Employee Relations, Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust explains: “From a reporting standpoint, the lack of standardisation made it difficult to extrapolate data from the spreadsheets. We also faced challenges when sharing information amongst the team, as more often than not, the Excel documents would be saved locally preventing everyone from accessing the same information.”

Employee relations in the cloud

With a growing need to formalise processes, the Trust sought a solution that would standardise HR case management and streamline processes.

Victoria said: “We needed a system that would allow us to quickly and easily track our caseloads but also make the process as intuitive as possible for the team. We were aware that other NHS Trusts were using ER Tracker to meet their HR case management needs.”

Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust went live with ER Tracker at the beginning of September 2018. All nine members of the ER department are using the system to record and manage relevant case information.

“We’re currently using the system to manage grievances, short-term and long-term sickness, disciplinary, capability, and employment tribunal cases. Other members of the team such as our HR Business Partners and our Deputy HR Director all have visibility of the system, which makes sharing case information much easier.

“The process of implementing ER Tracker was smooth and we received continued support from the team at Allocate. The system is intuitive and easy to customise, which means that it’s not a problem for the team to add and remove case types, steps and options. After only a short period of time, we saw vast improvements to the way we report and manage within the Employee Relations team,” explains Victoria.

Faster case resolution

The new system has enabled the ER team to store all case information centrally, allowing them to easily access data and manage caseloads. The software is aligned with the Trust’s HR policies in order to provide accurate timelines which enable the team to work towards meeting key deadlines, prioritise their workload and drive impactful change.

Victoria said: “Since going live the HR department has been able to improve case visibility and reduce the length of time taken to resolve cases. ER Tracker lets us easily see how long cases have been open and the timelines the team is working towards.”

Monitoring cases and reporting

With the Trust’s HR case management data now stored securely and centrally in the cloud, the ER department has been able to improve the speed and quality of the reports it generates.

“ER Tracker helps us to monitor our cases in real-time. It’s already allowed us to extract information such as the volume of cases we’re managing and feed that into our workforce reports,” comments Victoria.

On a monthly basis, the Trust’s ER team are using the system’s reporting capabilities to gain visibility on the length of time cases have been open. This in turn allows the department to carefully manage impending timeline breaches and take action – directing resources towards cases that require more attention.

Victoria adds: “Since going live we’ve also been able to report on yearly activity for our key policy areas such as bullying and harassment and grievance processes. We’re currently looking to carry out a similar exercise for disciplinary cases, evaluating the range of outcomes and average case length.”

Managing Freedom of Information requests

In addition to sourcing data for reports, the software has also supported the team in gathering information for Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.

Victoria said: “FOI requests can be incredibly difficult to fulfil if there isn’t a consolidated system for recording activity. It can be hard to gather granular detail, especially if team members have to go into individual spreadsheets and search information line-by-line. The standardised options available through ER Tracker mean that it’s much easier for us to gather data, there has been a vast improvement and the process is now much quicker.”

Feedback and product enhancement

The Trust has a monitoring period attached to its sickness cases, due to this it became challenging for the ER department to differentiate between active sickness cases in ER Tracker and those that were on hold because of the monitoring period.

Victoria explains: “It was important to us to keep track of these types of sickness cases. However, we wanted the ability to separate them out from our active caseloads. We spoke to Allocate about adding a monitoring tool, they listened to us and developed the functionality. The Trust has really benefited from the new functionality and it’s been especially helpful to us when running reports. Now when we do so, the sickness cases in the monitoring period are not contributing towards our case length resolution figures.”

Victoria concludes: “The customer service and support from Allocate has been very good and Andy Shettle (Senior Product Manager at Allocate) has been really helpful in getting us up and running, listening to our suggestions and also providing ongoing support.”

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