Business owners often list workforce management issues among their biggest challenges in terms of difficulty. From recruiting and retaining employees to administering payroll and health care benefits, the HR tasks that companies must master are numerous and multifaceted, requiring sound long-term planning and a significant operational commitment. To meet these challenges, many companies are turning to outside HR experts, including professional employer organizations (PEOs), to manage all aspects of the employee experience, allowing business owners to focus on other priorities, like customer service or product development.
But companies across the country are also using new technology, often with the help of their HR partners, to assist and motivate employees, improve managerial outcomes, and boost overall productivity.
Here’s a closer look at some key developments:
Employee Experience Platforms Take Center Stage
To help employees understand and take charge of their HR needs, many companies are adopting software platforms that allow for online information gathering, as well as directed interactions with workplace specialists. Instead of sending an email to a manager and waiting for answers, employees with questions about their benefits, compensation, review policies and workplace safety, among many other issues, can access a portal designed to route them quickly to the resources they need. In some cases, employees will be able to find answers directly via a searchable database contained on the portal; in other instances, questions and concerns can be sent directly to the appropriate HR specialist. Ultimately, employee experience platforms are designed to relieve pressure on managers, and create efficiency for HR staff, while giving employees a sense of empowerment and engagement in the workplace.
According to research firm Gartner, almost a third of midsized and large businesses will have invested in one type of platform – the integrated HR service delivery (IHRSD) system – by 2022, and the software will help those companies save on operational costs, while also mitigating risk. In addition to providing employees with key information and access to HR specialists, the IHRSD systems can automate basic tasks, like the onboarding and offboarding processes. They also push customized information to individual employees, based on their unique circumstances.
Employee experience platforms not only streamline administrative processes and reduce costs, they help integrate employees in a changing work environment. Today, more employees than ever work from home. At the same time, many employers are hiring workers for temporary assignments (think gig economy), which means that flexibility is critical. HR platforms not only provide that flexibility, they allow satellite and short-term employees to integrate more easily into your company.
AI is the Future
Much has been written about artificial intelligence (AI) and its current and future impact on business operations. Accounting and customer management departments are increasingly integrating AI programs to learn and improve functionality. The same goes in the HR arena. By collecting and analyzing data, AI is already helping to drive improvements in the way that companies interact with and support employees. In its most basic form, the technology is automating repetitive HR tasks via employee experience platforms, but it is also helping to improve decision-making and managerial functions. For instance, employee performance evaluations are a constant source of tension and concern in most organizations. Employees sometimes feel that they are not being evaluated fairly, or that their accomplishments have not been adequately recognized. AI programs in development today are aiming to remove the conscious and unconscious biases that may exist in the performance review process by using metrics on an ongoing basis – continually evaluating employees based on agreed upon goals and standards. Of course, keeping the “human” in human resources is critical, so it’s clear that machine-driven HR process must continue to involve an interactive, engaged approach between managers and employees.
Data Can Move Your Company and Motivate Your People
The strategic and consistent use of workforce data analytics to predict and improve a company’s performance has exploded over the last several years. While most HR professionals rely on metrics for basic recruiting and for analyzing turnover rates, more in-depth analytics are becoming commonplace in companies across the U.S. Working with HR experts and technology tools, your organization can use data to determine the causes behind key workplace trends. Are you losing top talent at a high rate? Analytics can help determine if management issues, compensation, benefits packages or even workplace culture is behind the problem.
Ultimately, data will not only improve your company’s operational efficiency, it will help you motivate your employees. By using information collected from multiple sources, including an employee experience platform, you can determine how best to meet and exceed the expectations of your staff. Today, workers are certainly concerned about compensation, but they are also interested in rewarding tasks, a sound culture and a consistent regimen of feedback and recognition. Simply put, they want their jobs to offer experiential rewards. Perhaps stronger management training is the answer, or perhaps regular staff retreats or additional perks. Analytics can help solve the puzzle.
As in other areas of your business, technology is transforming HR. To keep up with the competition and ahead of the curve, make sure your organization is taking advantage of the latest tools.