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Harp Diaries - series

Updated: Mar 15

Introducing Harp, an HR automation tool crafted by IT Smart Systems.

Welcome to our blog series where we delve into the world of Harp, the HR app. In this series, we will explore the multiple ways Harp is transforming traditional HR practices, streamlining processes, and revolutionizing the way businesses manage their human resources. Through a series of informative articles, we will uncover the key features and functionalities of Harp, showcasing its ability to automate time-consuming tasks such as employee onboarding, leave management, performance evaluations, vacations, and more. We will also explore the analytics capabilities of Harp, enabling businesses to gain valuable insights into their workforce and make data-driven decisions.

Join us on this exciting journey as we unravel the potential of Harp in optimizing HR operations, enhancing employee engagement, and ultimately driving organizational success. Find out how Harp will help unlock the full potential of your HR team.

Harp Diaries - HR professionals using the HR app

Date: October 13, 2023

No. 5 The business of setting and pursuing

goals and intentions

Author: Diana Dima-Balea

Product Owner Harp

Intention or intentional acting refers to the conscious decision or purposeful action to achieve a specific goal or outcome. It involves a person's awareness and wilful choice to perform a particular behavior with a clear objective in mind.

In organizations often we look for directions, clear objectives, or goals we want to achieve to act. This leads us often to a dilemma: who should set the objectives? Should it be the employee for more commitment, or should it be the manager, who has better visibility?

There is a shared responsibility when it comes to setting goals in an organization. The employee however is accountable, and the manager is responsible for providing context, and clear directions and inspiring the employee to define the right goals.

Setting intentions can serve several purposes for the person doing it:
  • Reflection: People reflect on the past period considering what worked well and what didn't. This reflection helps in gaining insights into growth, impact, contribution, and areas for improvement.

  • Goal Setting: Based on the reflection, individuals may set specific, measurable, and achievable goals for the upcoming period. These goals can be related to various aspects of life, such as health, career, relationships, or personal development. Usually, the best timeframe to set objectives is 12 weeks.

  • Motivation: Setting intentions provides individuals with a sense of purpose and direction. It can be motivating to have clear goals and a plan for achieving them.

  • Positive Change: Many people see the moment of setting intentions as an opportunity for positive change. Setting intentions can be a proactive step toward making positive adjustments in one's life be it personal or professional.

So, the simple act of setting an intention in the first place can make us more motivated and committed to start working on that intention.

Other important factors in setting intentions:

  • Set just one priority at a time. In organizations, we often talk about priorities, when we should have just one that is most important at a particular moment. The results tend to come faster and usually, the outcome becomes fuel and drives you to achieve the next priority and so on.

  • If the objective is perceived as easily doable, the objective may take longer to complete as one does not find enough motivation to start working towards it.

  • Anxiety and frustration are common emotions in the process of setting and pursuing objectives that one should regard as confirmation of the effort and learning that come with the challenge.

  • The act of pursuing objectives literally makes your brain develop, learn, and expand beyond one’s perceived limits.

  • Time, action verbs, and specificity are the most important factors in framing an intention.

  • The best strategy to achieve an objective is for you to spend time and reflect on ways to do it, better than sharing the intention, finding an accountability partner, or writing it on post-its. These work as well but spending time with your objective seems to be more effective.

  • Always congratulate yourself for your effort and look for feedback on effort and not results. You will become a better person this way.

Harp can help you and your organization work on motivation, setting objectives, and following them through with your employees and teams. We designed our application to support employees' defining intentions all year round, providing the context for discussions with supervisors and gathering feedback on someone’s progress.

Do you want to find out more about Harp?

Date: September 29, 2023

No. 4 Employee experience endorsed by Gartner

for HR: autonomy, empowerment,

and personalized actions in HR

A case study on benefits package

Author: Diana Dima-Balea

Product Owner Harp

At the beginning of 2023, Gartner for HR published a report called Top 5 Priorities for HR Leaders. This report for future organizational and HR trends emphasized the importance of individuality, customization, and people-first experiences in HR processes, particularly employee relations.

As to the reasons that support this, Gartner says that, among other things, leadership plays an important role. On the one side, ’leaders need a new approach - as today’s work environment changes, leadership must change, as well. The three environmental shifts of social and political turbulence, work-life fusion, and flexible work arrangements redefine the leader-employee dynamic into a human-to-human relationship.’ This new approach can be a more ’human-centric leader: The human-to-human dynamic in the workplace pushes leaders to display human-centric leadership, defined as leading with authenticity, empathy, and adaptivity. These traits have been listed for some time among the key qualities of great leaders — but they were considered nice to have. Employees today demand them.’

And they are not only demanding it from their leaders but also from the way of working, careers, work environment, organizational relations, and so on. Personalized processes can also reflect this. Personalized processes in Human Resources play a crucial role in fostering employee engagement, satisfaction, and overall organizational success. We already touched on these subjects in our previous blog entries concerning performance management. In essence, we believe in an HR philosophy that places the culture and the organizational environment created in the center in terms of factors driving organizational performance and success.

Since we already tackled performance management, in this article we decided to talk about a different important HR flow, the personalized benefits package. It is a strategic approach to employee benefits that considers individual employees' unique needs and preferences.

We at IT Smart Systems already transitioned to a more flexible offering regarding benefits. These are some of the reasons why we believe personalized benefits packages are essential in the realm of HR:

  • Employee Retention: Personalized benefits packages can be a significant factor in retaining top talent. When employees feel that their benefits align with their personal needs, they are more likely to stay with the company.

  • Attracting Diverse Talent: Different employees have different priorities regarding benefits. Offering a range of personalized options can help attract a diverse workforce with varied needs and preferences.

  • Employee Satisfaction and Morale: Tailoring benefits to individual preferences enhances overall employee satisfaction and morale. It demonstrates that the organization cares about the well-being of its employees and is willing to invest in their happiness.

  • Wellness and Work-Life Balance: Personalized benefits include wellness programs and flexible work arrangements, contributing to a healthier work-life balance for employees.

  • Cost-Effective for Both Employer and Employee: Personalized benefits allow employees to choose the most important benefits. This can result in a more cost-effective approach for the employer and the employee, as resources are allocated where they are most valued.

  • Customized Healthcare Options: Healthcare needs vary among individuals. Personalized benefits may include a menu of healthcare options, allowing employees to select the coverage that best meets their specific requirements.

  • Financial Well-Being: Personalized benefits may include financial wellness programs, retirement planning options, or other financial perks catering to employees' unique financial goals and situations.

  • Career Development and Training Opportunities: Offering personalized benefits related to career development, such as professional development programs, can be attractive to employees seeking growth opportunities.

  • Employee Engagement: A personalized benefits package can contribute to higher levels of employee engagement. Employees who feel that their employer is invested in their personal and professional well-being are likelier to be engaged in their work.

  • Adapting to Generational Differences: Different generations may have distinct preferences regarding benefits. Personalizing benefits allows organizations to adapt to the diverse needs of a multi-generational workforce.

  • Retention in Competitive Markets: In competitive job markets, offering personalized benefits can give an organization a competitive edge in attracting and retaining top talent.

  • Employee Empowerment: Providing employees the autonomy to choose their benefits empowers them to make decisions that align with their circumstances and preferences.

A personalized benefits package is a strategic tool for HR to attract, retain, and engage employees. By acknowledging and accommodating the diverse needs of the workforce, organizations can create a more inclusive and supportive workplace, ultimately contributing to the company's overall success.

We talked about the cost-effective benefit brought by the personalized package; at the same time, if your company can cover an extensive range of benefits options that, by definition, can cater to different employee needs, then this argument cannot apply in your case. However, employees usually use 3 to 5 benefits options available, so it is an excellent time to analyze employees' behaviors as you can bring new offerings for them.

Irrespective of your chosen approach, Harp can help you define the proper benefits package covering fixed and flexible benefits in a very easy-to-set way. Moreover, you can link some of the benefits to the number of years an employee has with your company or custom super-tailored benefits for your employees. The last type of benefit can even give your employees more power and control in designing the proper benefit for them.

Apart from personalization, thoughtful mindset in terms of employee needs or care to your cost-effective and impact, Harp has other perks to offer with its benefits module:

  • Easily define and set a benefits plan for your organization, either as a whole or differentiated by important parameters (such as location)

  • Intuitive management of employee benefits choices concerning request of activation or deactivation of benefits as their needs change

  • Real-time information on consumption trends among benefits that can provide triggers of improvements in the package offered

  • Keeps track of receipts, purchasing documents, and other valuable papers you need to operate monthly.

  • Saves time in reporting activities; Harp sends you several reports needed in relation to government agencies, banks, and third-party providers

  • Funny and cute email notifications

Every tool, process, or system is built based on a vision, philosophy, or belief. We hope you resonate with ours and, with each new article, you find helpful ideas that you can use in your work environment. Thank you for reading.

Do you want to find out more about Harp?

Date: September 21, 2023

No. 3 A personal story from our HR Department: Their transition from manual to automated performance

Author: Diana Dima-Balea

Product Owner Harp

At the time of using Harp, we were an organization of 80 colleagues, heading to 100. It was a milestone.

Internal processes became tiresome. In HR, we worked with Excel where we kept the calendar for all evaluations for all our colleagues. We had to look it up every day and send e-mails whenever an evaluation should start. We sent the email to both the colleague whose evaluation started, as well as to his manager. Every week or so we had to remind the colleague and his manager not to forget about the process. In that master Excel, we registered the evolution of every evaluation, and when the evaluation ended, meaning all the discussions had taken place, we needed to update the next evaluation date. Moreover, we were cc-ed in every evaluation email sent by anybody.

Since our evaluation process was calculated from employment date, for 80+ persons we had to check and work with our master Excel almost 1 week per month roughly with all emails, reminders, and updates.

'From 12 months in a year, at least 3 were dedicated to performance for tasks that did not hold much value.'

We needed a solution that could keep the calendar in place, send emails and reminders, bring transparency and more friendliness to the process, real-time analytics, and save us time.

Since we started using Harp we realized we had more time on our hands, and as a bonus, we saw our colleagues interacting more easily with our performance management system and managers more in control of their team performance.

The transition was easy, we had a lot of support from everyone in the organization, and the improvements brought value. Moreover, we saw everyone more engaged. However, the first months were filled with Q&As, pieces of training, trials, and errors, but the initial feedback received encouraged us to keep going with our HR automation.


First impressions of a user :

'I have a nice app that I can interact with. Cool!'
'I can see and check my old performance easily, to remember my strong and weak points.'
'I have visibility on my evolution over time, with promotion milestones also.'

First impressions as coordinator or HR:

'I have more time to invest in value-added activities.'
'I got rid of tiresome processes that did not bring me joy.'
'I have a nice app that I can interact with.'
'I can see the evaluation calendar and I can make decisions regarding performance processes more easily and informed.'
'I can see someone’s performance progress in time.'
'I have individual and team performance metrics to check and build objectives upon them.'

Looking back, successfully implementing any change in an organization can be a challenging process. Still, I think we had an easy transition. It’s safe to say that for us the good timing for the change was one of the most important factors. So, for those of you planning to make any change, we would recommend making sure the time is right and you identify the correct need.

After that, here are the steps to successfully transition to any change, process, or system:

  • Create a compelling story and build strong support around it: start by clearly defining the reasons for the change and make sure you articulate a vision of how it all will look after the change is implemented. This vision should inspire and motivate employees to get on board with the change. Identify key advocates who will support and champion the change so that they help gain buy-in from others in the organization as well.

  • Communicate effectively and involve the people: develop a comprehensive communication plan that outlines what the change is, why it's happening, and how it will benefit the organization and its employees. Collect input and feedback from employees who will be affected by the change. Involving them in the process can lead to better ideas, increased buy-in, and a sense of ownership in the change.

  • Provide training, resources, and support: ensure that employees have the necessary training and resources to adapt to the change. Offer support and resources, especially to those who may be key players in the new process to make sure you are aligned with what to communicate, the process itself, and so on.

  • Celebrate small wins: acknowledge and celebrate the achievements and milestones along the way. This helps maintain motivation and keeps the momentum going.

  • Address resistance: understand that resistance to change is natural. Identify sources of resistance and address them proactively. Communicate the benefits of the change and address concerns.

  • Support the change: after the change has been implemented, work to embed it into the organization's culture and processes. Ensure that the change becomes the new norm. You will need a retrospective of how the implementation of the change went, you will need leadership to still be committed and offer their support. The important thing is that you will need patience. Change takes time and there may be setbacks along the way. Be prepared to adapt your approach as needed.

Consequently, we had good timing, a real need not only from the HR department but also from across the organization, we developed a story around it which attracted a lot of people from within, and that contributed to the change; moreover, we made sure we celebrated with every occasion. These brought traction and support from the rest of the organization and also kept our leadership committed. Apart from all these, our implementation had an easy journey, with little or no resistance, due to the application itself.

Harp has an intuitive and user-friendly interface. Users, including HR, and managers find it easy to navigate, input data, and access information. This positive user experience encouraged our easy adoption. In addition, Harp allows for customization, so our unique HR processes and policies were easily accommodated. Over time, it even adapted to changing needs and requirements from our side.

In today’s world simplicity wins hearts! So did Harp with our organization’s heart.

Do you want to find out more about Harp?


Date: September 7, 2023

No. 2 Are we still doing performance

management in organizations?

Author: Diana Dima-Balea

Product Owner Harp

After the big fuss right around the pandemic about performance management systems, I cannot help but feel that somehow a stain remained on this process. I completely agree that there are always better ways to do it or become better at it as a manager or company in general, but in the end, these systems should actually support you personally in becoming better at what you do and also your manager in managing their team’s performance.

So in a debate contest, I would definitely cheer for pro-performance management systems. They are such powerful tools that can crucially influence productivity and employee engagement within an organization, so they deserve a make-over and a place at the table of important instruments in team management.

When management systems work and are instrumented with higher purposes in mind, they bring the most needed benefits. Here are some:

  • Clear expectations: Performance management systems help set clear expectations and goals for employees. When employees know what is expected of them and how their performance will be evaluated, they are more likely to stay focused on tasks that contribute to the organization's success. This clarity can boost productivity.

  • Exposure to regular feedback: These systems often include regular feedback sessions between managers and employees. This helps employees understand their strengths and weaknesses, giving them the opportunity to improve. When employees see that their efforts are recognized and supported, they tend to be more engaged and motivated to perform better.

  • Provide alignment with organizational goals: An effective performance management system ensures that individual goals and performance align with the broader goals of the organization. When employees understand how their work contributes to the company's success, they are more likely to feel a sense of purpose and engagement.

  • Encourage skill development: Many performance management systems include plans for employee development and training. Investing in employees' professional growth not only improves their skills but also shows that the organization values their personal development, which can boost engagement.

  • Recognition and rewards: Performance management systems often link performance to rewards or recognition. Employees who know that their hard work can lead to promotions, bonuses, or other incentives are more likely to be motivated and engaged in their work.

  • Identification of issues: These systems help identify and address performance issues early on. When managers can spot and address problems promptly, it prevents these issues from escalating and negatively impacting productivity and engagement.

  • Continuous improvement: By tracking performance data over time, performance management systems allow organizations to identify trends and areas for improvement. This data-driven approach helps in making strategic decisions to enhance both productivity and engagement.

  • Employee involvement: Some modern performance management systems emphasize employee involvement in goal setting and self-assessment. When employees have a say in their performance objectives, they are more likely to feel a sense of ownership and commitment, which can positively impact engagement.

  • Communication: Performance management systems promote regular communication between employees and their managers. Open and honest communication builds trust and can create a positive work environment that fosters engagement.

When performance systems are well instrumented, their ROI immensely benefits the organization and its people. What was actually heavily debated recently was the way companies choose to implement these systems. In an agile world, and with our dynamic environments in organizations, we need processes that keep up with our speed which we can integrate into our flow of work.

Discover our modern approach to performance management systems in Harp, our HR App

  • We set OKRs for clear expectations and regular feedback, that can be engaged with across the year by both the employee and his manager. These OKRs come as a proposal from the employee.

  • Set organizational objectives in Harp that you can spread further to departments, teams, and individuals, for better alignment.

  • Follow 4 pillars of performance: daily tasks, one’s contribution to the company, outside daily tasks, adaptability and change, and a set of abilities and organizational competencies, better known as organizational citizenship.

  • Clear and transparent feedback – among those 4 pillars we may be good at some and struggle with others. Talking about performance in such a granular way, one will be more aware of his strengths and areas of improvement.

  • Feedback 360 incorporated. The manager’s point of view is important but is not enough. The feedback that comes from people whom you work with is equally important as it captures different perspectives of one’s work from people who are directly impacted by that colleague.

  • Improvement plans on daily tasks and on initiatives and involvement.

  • Progress history helps you celebrate success and evolution, and it can also play the role of a reminder of effort and challenges that someone overtook over time.

  • Improvement action plan on daily jobs, initiative, involvement, contribution, and attitude.

  • Career development plan, so that the employee and his manager agree on what challenges to take on in the short term so as to cover career needs and also organizational needs.

  • Insights on the percentages of completion of objectives for management teams.

  • Performance metrics are visible for all for transparency and as input for further actions for each

Since we started using Harp for performance management, all processes are automated and we know at any moment the status of one’s evaluation. We have access to metrics in real-time, so we are able to address performance issues early on or identify future stars in the making. Before Harp, we were able to calculate those metrics at the end of the year and we were not always able to act on insights at the right time. Now both managers and HR focus on valuable actions in performance management and people development rather than monotonous ones. Those disappeared once Harp came to life.

Harp helped us:

  • Redefine efficiency. We no longer rely on manual paperwork and spreadsheets. It helped us automate routine tasks & free up our HR team to focus on strategic initiatives that drive growth

  • Act on data-driven insights. We now make informed decisions with actionable insights as Harp provides real-time analytics and customizable reports, so we were able to fine-tune our strategies for a more engaged and productive workforce.

  • Unify collaboration in performance management. Harp fostered seamless communication and collaboration across ITSS, ensuring everyone was on the same page.

  • Focus on growth-oriented performance as Harp facilitated goal-setting, continuous feedback, and skill development, nurturing a culture of excellence and growth.

Performance management systems provide a structured framework for setting expectations, providing feedback, aligning individual and organizational goals, and promoting employee development. When implemented effectively, these systems can enhance productivity and employee engagement, leading to better overall organizational performance.

Do you want to find out more about Harp?


Date: August 31, 2023

No.1 Ace Your Leave Management: Balancing Trust, Transparency and Flexibility

Author: Diana Dima-Balea

Product Owner Harp

Trust is a foundational element in any workplace. In the context of leave management, trust refers to the belief that employees will use their allocated leave days responsibly and honestly. When there's a strong sense of trust between employers and employees, it fosters a positive work environment and can lead to higher employee satisfaction and loyalty. But how can employees decide with responsibility when to take leave when they do not have the information? This is where transparency is important.

Transparency involves clear and open communication between employers and employees regarding the leave policy, processes, expectations, and information. This includes making sure that employees understand how leave requests are processed, how much leave they have available, and any relevant procedures. Transparent communication helps employees feel valued and informed, and it reduces misunderstandings or conflicts that might arise due to confusion over leave policies.

Flexibility refers to an approach that acknowledges the diverse needs of employees. This could include allowing different types of leave (such as sick leave, vacation days, personal days, bonus days, etc.), accommodating remote work during leave if applicable, and allowing employees to adjust their leave schedule to better suit their individual circumstances. Flexibility recognizes that employees have different life situations and needs, and accommodating these needs within reason can improve employee morale and work-life balance.

Balancing trust, transparency, and flexibility into leave management practices can have several benefits:

  • Employee Satisfaction: Employees feel valued and respected when they are trusted to manage their leave responsibly. Transparent policies and clear communication contribute to employee satisfaction.

  • Reduced Conflict: When the leave policy and its procedures are transparent, it reduces the chances of misunderstandings or conflicts arising due to confusion or misinformation.

  • Higher Morale and Productivity: Flexible leave policies show that employers understand and support employees' work-life balance needs, leading to higher morale and increased productivity.

  • Talent Attraction and Retention: Organizations that prioritize trust, transparency, and flexibility in leave management are often more attractive to potential hires and are more likely to retain their current talent.

Discover these practices in Harp, our HR app

  • Gain visibility across time off in the organization. You will all be on the same page when it comes to keeping track of your team members' time off. This information isn't just for HR or managers, it's important for all of you to stay informed. Knowing when your colleagues are taking time off can help you plan your own schedules and ensure a smooth workflow. Hence, no more Excel spreadsheets with vacations to avoid overlapping or reminders over reminders regarding coworkers' holidays. Harp does that for you, and you can very easily see who’s off or if it is the right time for a vacation of your own as well. It comes in handy for project managers also, when they are planning for successful projects.

  • Choose from self-accepted vacation or approved vacation flows. You can maximize your time and build trust by choosing a process with no approval needed if you see this fit. Or you might prefer the traditional approval flows, available in Harp as well.

  • Define different types of vacation for different reasons. Each individual has unique needs. Harp makes sure you benefit from flexible leave management practices, so you can meet those needs.

  • Unlock the power of metrics to boost your team's performance. Having the overview, start nurturing your team's well-being by suggesting rest time for the employees who have not benefited from a vacation in a while.

  • You are covered when it comes to setting your out-of-office (OOO) messages. No matter the reason for your absence, Harp will effortlessly handle the task of setting up your OOO message for you.

  • Not to mention the necessary reports. With an abundance of information, Harp can easily send you monthly reports, all set to be further sent to the appropriate institutions.

Behind every process, tool, procedure, and culture there is a philosophy. Ours is about balancing the trust that people can make the right decisions if they are informed, with the transparency that produces good outcomes, and the flexibility that generates trust and loyalty. With this in mind, we developed Harp, in order to meet our standards in people management.

Since we started using Harp, we managed to reduce our OVT count by 40% and improve our work-life balance by 28%.

Gaining access to information about others' time off proved to be incredibly valuable in self-planning vacation time and adjusting workload accordingly. It was truly refreshing to witness project managers being mindful of team members' absences, and even more so to see managers actively encouraging individuals to take well-deserved rest days. The outcome? A remarkable improvement in work-life balance and overall productivity. We firmly believe that trust, transparency, and flexibility are the driving forces behind our successful leave management processes. As a result, we are now able to effectively manage time off without encountering any major obstacles.

Do you want to find out more about Harp?

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