Conservation charity Dorset Wildlife Trust is making time to focus on its cause thanks to discounted HR admin software.
Since 1961, Dorset’s largest conservation charity Dorset Wildlife Trust has worked to champion wildlife and look after the stunning natural heritage of the Dorset coast and its surrounding natural areas. Working across 42 nature reserves, 56 staff and thousands of volunteers a year work to inspire the local community and visitors from far and wide. Being a dynamic independent charity, the Trust is all about being able to quickly manoeuvre wherever it’s needed. For Head of HR Steve Davis, that couldn’t be anymore true. Being weighed down by time-consuming administration tasks was counter to this, and needed to be fixed.
Three years ago, the charity were using manual methods to handle its HR processes, and it was taking up a lot of time. Davis says: "If someone wanted to take holiday they’d have to fill a form in, get their manager to sign it, it’d then come through to me and I’d put it into the spreadsheet. It had various formula to automatically take off the total but even so it was very laborious. The headaches we had going into a new leap year was huge. It was an incredible amount of work - something definitely needed to be done."
Having made the decision to go digital, Dorset Wildlife Trust came across Breathe - a cloud-based digital platform that brings all HR management processes together into one place, which offers a 50% discount for charities. "Because we’re a charity, it’s very cost effective," Davis says. "It’s great to be with someone who recognises that as a charity we’re not made of money - we need to be able to focus on spending our funds on our charitable aims rather than having to spend it on administration, which is really beneficial for everyone."
The charity uses Breather primarily for managing and booking leave and absences such as holidays, medical appointments, sickness and time in lieu. Senior management can also have access to all the staff details they need, in or out of office hours, by just logging into the system - a more secure and GDPR-aware solution than carrying a physical folder with individuals’ details. Another bonus for GDPR is that staff can easily see all the information that the charity holds on them by simply logging in. Staff can use the Breathe platform themselves by going to their profile, and by a simple click of a button request leave dates or log absence. The Breathe platform automatically generates an email to their manager to authorise it. They log in and approve, and it goes into the calendar for the whole organisation. "It’s incredibly intuitive," says Davis. "We started with the two week trial period to give it a go and see what we thought. I gave it to staff to just play around with it. That same afternoon they were loving it, said it’s so much easier and clearer. There was absolutely no doubt then we had to go with it, I don’t think we even got to the end of the two week trial period - it went live as soon as I could fill in the staff data. There is also a help option as well for anyone who needs it."
The charity is looking at some of the other features of the software such as planning appraisal meetings, setting objectives and more. It’s also a useful place to centrally store other assets such as an organisational chart, training records and documents and ensure the right people have access to what they need. Davis adds: "Being in HR, you never know what’s coming next. Having a way of cutting down on the admin so you are available when really needed for bigger profile stuff is hugely beneficial. Admin stuff never goes away just because I’m involved in something else going on in the organisation, now that’s managed by itself it’s certainly freed up my time to do more."