HR teams today increasingly see themselves as technological innovators.

They recognize that technology has transformed the HR and employee benefits landscape—enabling and empowering professionals working in this sphere to play a strategic, global role within their organizations. But more needs to be done. Delve down into the findings of this research and an interesting disconnect between how organizations view their use of technology and the reality reveals itself.

Drivers of change: the HR strategy shift

Instead of reacting to change, HR professionals are increasingly driving the change organizations need for a competitive advantage at a time of growing digital disruption—whether that is upskilling employees to work in a data-driven world or tackling declining employee engagement through an increased focus on wellbeing. As a result achieving, a ‘globally consistent employee experience’ has shot up the list of priorities for HR professionals in 2019. However, there is a mismatch between how organizations view the way they are delivering on this key objective and what is happening in practice. As consumers in the workplace, the personalized consumer-grade tech experience we are used to in our personal lives is still not being delivered.

When HR offer employees access to around 10 different tools and apps, satisfaction scores rise significantly and employee engagement score targets are met or exceeded. However, not every organization has the capability to ‘plug-and-play’ new apps and tools into a global HR tech ecosystem. Even among those that do, many say that the ‘tools are not fit for purpose’.  So, in the coming years we can expect to see greater investment in technology to deliver a ‘globally consistent employee experience’, as well as tech innovations to create a truly integrated, connected and holistic global ecosystem.

The data disconnect: if you don’t ask, you don’t get

While technology has played a pivotal role in enabling the HR function to achieve more than ever before, without the data to support their strategy HR professionals are often not being as effective as they could be. Our research found a disconnect between how organizations view their approach to technology (innovative and ahead of the curve) and the reality (they lack the data or expertise needed to measure whether their benefits spend is helping achieve organizational goals).

Take retirement as just one example. We all know that pensions are one of the biggest spends in terms of benefits, with organizations parting with billions of dollars each year to fund the retirement of their employees. Yet, surprisingly, more than half of organizations are not using employee data to help forecast potential retirement scenarios and liabilities. This, in turn, can have a significant impact on workforce planning (knowing when employees are likely to retire is vital), learning and development (longer working lives mean more reskilling and upskilling), healthcare costs (older workforces are more expensive to cover) as well as pension provision.

Analytics is the answer: everything will change over the next three years

However, over the next three years, nearly every organization will be collecting vast amounts of data on their employees ranging from engagement to wellbeing. It is this data that will transform the HR and benefits function and those who work in it.

The next step will be to analyze the data effectively to extract maximum value. To meet this need there has already been a massive increase in the number of organizations that have implemented people analytics teams in the last year and a half—with many of those working in this field being upskilled, seeing their roles enhanced (rather than replaced) by technology.

So what’s next?

It’s a huge step forward for the industry that so many HR professionals now see themselves as innovators. But in order to be truly transformative, organizations need a fundamental rethink. For a start, the employee experience needs to be top of HR’s agenda to ensure everything they do—including their tech strategy—is driving towards improving it. However, only 1 in 3 HR leaders are making ‘redesigning the employee experience through technology’ a priority on their worklist for 2019. Organizations are planning significant investment in technology to extract better value from their HR and benefits spend, but there is still a long way to go to make sure they make the most of the opportunity technology presents. Not only do HR departments need to make sure they are prepared by upskilling their teams to make them more data-literate, but technology providers need to respond quickly in order to meet the demands of the market and deliver tools that are fit for purpose.


To find out more about the HR tech disconnect download the full report now.