Mind the gap: using data and digital to tackle skills shortages

April 9, 2019

There was a time, not so long ago, when you entered the workforce with a very clear view of the path your working life would take.

You would join a company, stay there for a goodly number of years – maybe even your entire career – accruing perks and promotions as you served your time, and you would enter into a social contract with your employer that demanded loyalty and commitment from both sides.

The rules and conventions were clearly laid out and understood. The career paths were linear and well-trod. The employee-employer relationship was a paternalistic one in which long service and a willingness to put the company’s interests first were rewarded with promotions and benefits such as company cars, expense accounts and the corner office.

Moving from employer to employer was, in most cases, frowned upon – an indication that you were flighty and untrustworthy.

THE ROLE OF BENEFITS IN TODAY’S WORKPLACE

Things couldn’t be more different in today’s workplace. A difficult economic environment means that the kind of long-term prospects with a single employer that our parents and grandparents could rely on are less likely, and that companies are less willing to splash out on lavish rewards and benefits. And the rise of the gig economy, portfolio careers, and a generation of people who put themselves first means that the traditional social contract is effectively over.

Employers are using benefits to attract, recruit and retain talent – and to create loyalty and engagement. Most are offering their people an array of benefits on online platforms, with some also providing apps and savings tools, and a key driver of this is building loyalty by offering people a wide choice of perks ranging from private healthcare to travel pass loans.

But how will loyalty look in tomorrow’s workplace, which promises to be as different to today’s workplace as today’s workplace is to yesterday’s? Organisations will undoubtedly continue to use benefits as a strategic tool, and they will use technology to make them seamless, flexible and personalised – replicating employees’ consumer experience at work.

THE ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY IN TOMORROW’S WORKPLACE

The major change in the workplace will be the rise of new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, robotic process automation, and machine learning. Over the next decade, people will increasingly work in an environment optimised for technology and alongside these emergent technologies.

Our Human to Hybrid: The Next Workforce Frontier whitepaper explores this shift from a predominantly human workforce to one where people and machines work hand in hand, and it demonstrates the role that technology can play in helping organisations to use benefits to engage employees: by delivering a better employee experience.

It also reveals that digital – one of three strategic levers that HR professionals will have to focus on to build the workforces their organisations will need to be successful in the future economy – presents a huge opportunity to build loyalty, drive engagement and get better return on investment from benefits.

The key for benefits professionals will be putting employee experience at the heart of everything they do, and making sure that they adopt a targeted, strategic approach that aligns with their organisations’ transition to a hybrid workforce.

A NEW APPROACH TO LOYALTY

Our survey of more than 200 benefits and HR professionals, 500 business leaders, and more than 2,000 employees demonstrates the importance of offering benefits to create loyalty – both benefits professionals and business leaders say loyalty is a “critical” reason to have a benefits programme.

87% of those business leaders believe that, to get the most out of a hybrid workforce, organisations need to rethink how they build loyalty among their employees and create processes that allow for more fluid employer-employee relationships.

They will also need to use digital to create a seamless, individualised employee experience across different channels that gives employees a sense of control and quick and easy access to the benefits they want. They will have to be able to anticipate employees’ needs and provide a benefits programme that’s fun and easy to use.

Employees’ needs, demands and expectations will change dramatically over the next decade, and benefits programmes will have to keep up with those changes if they are to continue to play a key role in inspiring loyalty in people who are much readier to move on to a new role if they’re not satisfied with their current one than previous generations were.

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”.

You can download our whitepaper here 

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