Dr Tirath Virdee, Director of Artificial Intelligence, Capita People Solutions, shares his views on how data is set to transform employee benefits.
Data has huge potential to improve employees' experience and transform their relationship with their employers. The sheer volume that is being generated requires a serious and joined-up approach.
When organisations use AI and Machine Learning more, they'll gain access to almost limitless relevant data on their workforce, and an opportunity to engage people at an unprecedented level.
Our Human to Hybrid research, however, reveals that organisations and HR departments are struggling to derive value from the data that they have already. This is hampering their efforts to attract and retain employees, drive performance, and move towards a hybrid resourcing model.
A major barrier here is legacy management issues, particularly a poor understanding of the evolving data landscape. Many senior stakeholders simply don't have the skills or vision needed for a data-led approach to workforce transformation.
Turning data into actionable insight is also a challenge. Data reporting on the uptake of benefits is easy but it's only the first step in helping HR leaders to optimise their benefits provision. There must be more of a focus on genuine analytics, to sift through the data and pull out the genuinely useful insights that can inform decisions and drive better outcomes.
This requires HR teams to have a higher level of skill and understanding when it comes to data, and technologies and platforms that allow them to integrate data from different systems and departments.
There are three steps you can take to improve the value of your organisation's benefits data:
1. Integrate and store all the relevant data
2. Think strategically about how your data analytics aligns with employee's user experience
3. Ensure you're using the most appropriate data analytics models to gain the best insights.
In some instances, HR leaders are suffering from analysis paralysis. They have become overwhelmed by the noise surrounding data and insight. They need to take a step back from this and recognise the 'easy wins', putting the basic infrastructure, processes and skills in place to utilise their existing workforce data.
Of course, AI will take on a more important role in HR, mining new sources of data and providing much richer, deeper insight. Within just a few years, it will be used to identify employees who are starting to have performance issues, recognising potential reasons for this and offering appropriate help and support. It will be used to predict when people are about to start looking for another job and deliver engagement initiatives to persuade them to stay.
And within benefits, it will be used to serve people the most relevant packages based on their own personal circumstances, interests and drivers.
HR leaders need to take a far more proactive and dynamic approach to data, engaging their teams around its use and demonstrating its value, by empowering them to become more informed, strategic operators. They also need to have world-class analytics skills within their departments, and to equip their people with the tools and platforms they need to turn data into meaningful insight.
This is the key to creating a more personalised, compelling employee experience within benefits and, in turn, to enabling organisations to use their benefits provision to attract, retain and motivate their people.