Technology is hardly a new thing in HR – go to any conference anywhere in the world and people will be talking passionately about how it promises a bright new future for learning and development, benefits, recruitment, organisational development, and any other aspect of HR you care to mention.
There’s no doubt that HR practitioners are committed to using the latest technology to improve employees’ experiences. It’s something they feel strongly about and want to make the most of. And, indeed, many organisations are already using technology to do things like automating HR processes and delivering training. But very few measure its impact or the return they’re getting from their investment in it.
This will have to change if they and their people are to thrive in a future that’s driven by technology – HR professionals will need to use it much more widely and track its impact much more effectively.
This includes employee benefits. HR and benefits professionals will need to step their game up in this new workplace, if they’re to meet the heightened demands and expectations of a human workforce adapting to the challenges of a workplace optimised for technology.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES?
Over the next decade, the workforce will undergo enormous changes, driven primarily by the emergence of new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Robotic Process Automation and Machine Learning.
Wide-scale adoption of these new technologies will cause many organisations to redefine how they resource their operations. In our white paper, Human to Hybrid; The Next Workforce Frontier, we explore this shift from a predominantly human workforce to one in which humans work in a technologically-optimised environment alongside AI and robots.
Our Human to Hybrid study found that there are three key strategic levers for making the transition successfully - Digital, Data and People. HR professionals must focus on these to enable organisations and their employees to thrive in the future economy.
BENEFITS: THE STORY SO FAR
A lot of organisations have introduced technology to their benefits provision over the past decade: most now offer an online benefits platform, while many provide apps and savings tools.
Organisations offer their employees benefits for several different reasons, chiefly to retain them and make them more loyal, promote health and wellbeing, and attract better candidates. But HR and benefits professionals are facing a number of challenges in delivering those benefits, ranging from outdated processes and/or technology to a lack of budget, and many are struggling to successfully digitise their processes, let alone realise any tangible RoI.
And when it comes to improving employees’ engagement with and uptake of those benefits, technology has too often failed to live up to its promise. Just 29% of the benefits professionals we talked to are very satisfied with levels of employee engagement with technology-based benefits.
Our research also reveals that only a small minority of leaders feel satisfied with their technological efforts so far (16%) and many are encountering considerable challenges, including scepticism and resistance from employees and colleagues and major issues around integrating the technology with organisational systems.
BENEFITS: A HAPPY ENDING?
The good news, however, is that benefits professionals believe that digital, particularly the emergence of new technologies, still presents a huge opportunity to drive more engagement with and get better return on investment from their benefits provision.
If you’re going to maximise that opportunity for your organisation, you need to re-evaluate your use of digital and take a targeted, strategic approach, which puts employee experience at the heart of everything you do and aligns with your organisation’s wider transition to a hybrid workforce.
Done properly, digital can address many of today’s major challenges in benefits provision, especially those of communication, measurement, administration and innovation. It can give your employees better experiences of benefits and make them more engaged with what you’re offering.
This will only happen, however, if you have a clear vision of how your provision needs to evolve over the coming years (as part of the overall shift to a hybrid workforce) and a robust strategy for how and where adopting a digital approach can help you to realise that vision.
Employees’ needs, demands and expectations will change dramatically over the coming years, and you must be ready: you need to take a step back now, reflect on your digitisation efforts to date, and then create a considered, comprehensive digital strategy that will deliver a first-rate employee experience and that aligns with your organisation’s overall vision for its future workforce.
Ensuring a first-rate user journey and experience has to be the starting point for digitisation, to ensure that your future projects do not simply run into the same problems that your current ones are facing. This means finding the right technology partners and platforms and bringing in the right skills.
By doing this, you can ensure your benefits programmes deliver for both your organisation and your people.
What is Human to Hybrid?
For the purposes of this research, we defined Human to Hybrid as ‘‘the new dynamic where humans will work in a fully digitised and technologically-optimised environment, and increasingly work alongside robots and AI, over the next ten years”.