UZ Gent introduces smart HR with the intuitive POL platform
Cutting time spent on administrative hassles means more time to offer even better care. That was the ambition of the Ghent University Hospital when it reviewed its HR processes. The result: POL, an intuitive HR platform that puts every employee in the driver’s seat.
With more than 6,000 employees, Ghent University Hospital – or UZ Gent – is a village in itself. Next to nurses and doctors, there are also IT specialists, legal advisors, technical staff, etc. walking its many halls and paths.
Getting rid of the HR black box
To make sure everyone is paid on time, receives the right career opportunities and gets answers to their questions, the HR department required a high-performance IT system. “Until recently, our system was fragmented, with separate tools for delivery and personnel – with some even coming from external sources,” says head of HR Valerie Vinck. “HR was like a black box, with buttons and levers in all sorts of colors and shapes. A tool for this, a tool for that, a platform for this, a platform for that.”
"The HR platform should be quick and accurate, without compromising on quality. So that HR is even closer to its employees and is regarded as an added value."
Valerie Vinck, head of HR
A couple of years ago, the department defined its main objectives: creating more transparency, becoming a more attractive employer and freeing up more time for care instead of administrative hassle. “In 2018, we started our HR digitization project at UZ Gent,” says Kristof Nuytens, human capital solution lead at delaware. “Earlier, we had already tackled the hospital's financial and purchasing processes, as well as its warehouse management approach; HR was the third step.”
The result was POL, a simple name for a smart HR platform that offers transparent and straightforward HR solutions that are accessible to all users.
Linking business successes with talent
POL’s backbone consists of SAP SuccessFactors, a cloud-based human experience management (HXM) platform to support all operational HR processes, from personnel administration to recruitment and training. “Even more so, with analytics, we combine those processes with a wide range of data to bring organizations new insights and support decisions. And all in real time,” explains Juan Staes, human capital domain lead at delaware. “With clear workforce insights, we can make better decisions faster, and eventually connect business needs to talent.”
Involving stakeholders from every team
The HR team at UZ Gent consists of around 90 employees. Valerie: “This project isn’t just about new technology – it’s about an entire new way of working. As a result, we had to take the implementation one step at a time. We tried to simplify and standardize as much as possible before we started rolling out POL to the entire staff.”
For the nurses, doctors and all other staff at UZ Gent, working with POL took some getting used to. “Before we went to the drawing board, we first made a tour through the hospital.” Valerie continues. “This gave us a cross-section of the needs, problems and questions that our end users were struggling with. We couldn’t just pull the plug on our old system and put another one in. That’s why we had to involve representatives of every department in the tests and training sessions.”
“With POL, we want to make HR processes as easy as possible for our employees. It has to be quick and accurate, without compromising on quality, enabling HR to be even closer to employees. That’s where POL adds value,” asserts Valerie.
What does POL do? 6 practical examples
1. Control your own data
“New employees used to fill in an information sheet with their personal details. They gave it to HR who entered the data into various systems. Anyone who moved or changed their account number usually communicated this spontaneously using a form,” Valerie explains.
“Now, our employees are in charge: they can see their profile and details together with all the data we have about them, even their certificates and diplomas. The organization chart is also visible, including which salary scales are linked to which position, how to request thematic leave, and so on.”
2. Smart training courses
“Our employees take a lot of training courses, and some are even obligatory,” explains Valerie. “POL automatically creates a team in Microsoft Teams, which the trainers use to share study materials or videos, take tests, and more. Our employees form a community in which they work together and share their experiences.”
3. Better visibility over recruitment
UZ Gent is one of the largest employers in the region and is constantly looking for new talent. “In the past, if a department head went to HR to post a vacancy, they had little insight into the response, what stage the selection process was in, what steps the potentially employee had already taken, and so on. Now this data is available to every user in real time.”
4. An attractive job site
“To attract new talent, we launched a new employer branding strategy and job site as well, which are integrated into the new HR platform. Applicants can apply much more easily and we are able to manage the data more efficiently through a UX with a modern look and feel.”
5. Performance follow-up
A new POL functionality is performance management. All performance data will be available on the platform for end users to view themselves, including reports of performance reviews, tools to track performance, and more.
6. Robotic process automation (RPA)
“With software-based robots, we can automate operational tasks like invoice processing, reading data, messaging and many other repetitive tasks. We also use it during the onboarding process to automatically send data to external applications, for example. But you could also apply it to automatically order uniforms, create badges, and so on,” explains Juan. At UZ Gent, RPA bots now synchronize personal data from the data hub with the payroll supplier.