When it comes to high priority objectives for HR and benefits teams in EMEA, employee engagement tops the agenda. They recognise that looking after their people – by offering flexible working, looking after employees’ wellbeing and providing additional activities such as breakfast clubs for example – not only boosts productivity and innovation but also increases engagement.

So it’s unsurprising that looking after employees is reflected in the top three benefits strategy objectives for organisations in EMEA. Attracting and retaining talent makes it to number one and enhancing employee engagement comes in third. When it comes to operational objectives, 64% of organisations in Europe prioritise creating a globally consistent employee experience.

In order to deliver on these engagement objectives, HR and benefits teams in EMEA need both the technology and capability in place. However, this is easier said than done.

Our latest research found that HR and benefits teams in Europe and the Middle East appear to have a wait-and-see approach to investing in new technology. Only 23% class themselves as innovators (the first to adopt new technology), compared to 50% of those based in Africa. This could reflect the fact that many organisations have already invested significantly in technology and perhaps don’t need to be innovative. However, many HR and benefits teams in EMEA aren’t getting buy-in from senior leadership to invest in new technology – they cited their second biggest barrier to tech adoption as a lack of C-suite or board-level buy-in.

When it comes to implementing a holistic ecosystem – enabling organisations to quickly and easily plug-and-play new apps and tools into their HR software without disrupting the user experience – 82% of EMEA HR teams see value in this. However, only 62% of EMEA organisations have actually implemented a holistic ecosystem. This means that just over half of EMEA organisations are able to innovate and quickly test whether new benefits lead to increased employee engagement.

Furthermore, global consistency and employee engagement is high up on the agenda but the vast majority of organisations in EMEA are still purchasing benefits technology (68%) and administering employee benefits (71%) on a national or regional basis. This highlights the disconnect between what HR professionals in EMEA are trying to achieve; a global employee experience, and the day-to-day management and implementation of their benefits.

More positively, many organisations in EMEA have the capability in place to improve employee engagement. Our research found that the vast majority are using the employee data they collect for the good of their people. 59% use data to analyse employee performance and 58% to analyse engagement. Moreover, many HR professionals in EMEA are putting the right people in place to analyse the data they are collecting. 35% have upskilled existing HR team members, 27% have hired in external talent and 32% have done both – leaving just 7% who haven’t taken this vital action.

It is clear that HR and benefits teams in EMEA need to have both the technology in place and the capability to implement change in order to improve employee engagement and truly deliver on their organisation’s objectives and goals. While a vast amount of progress has been made, within EMEA there is still work to be done on both these counts.


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