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Three Reasons HR and Employee Benefits Are Finally Embracing Technology-and Three Factors Still Standing in the Way

Mark Rieder, SVP of HR Technologies and Benefits Administration, NFP

Mark Rieder, SVP of HR Technologies and Benefits Administration, NFP

Cradio sounds–scratch that–the iPhone alarm sounds. Time to wake.

Walk to the front door to retrieve the paper—I mean grab your phone to log in to social media to see what happened in the world.

Pour yourself a coffee, I mean click on your app so you can order one from the Starbucks on your way to the office—I mean the shared space where you’ll decide to work for the day.

Say hello to everyone as you walk in—I mean log into your IM and mark yourself as “in.”

"Advancements in mobile technology have allowed employees to manage most of their daily lives on their phones"

Quickly run down the hall to the conference room for a long day of meetings—I mean log in to Webex or join me.

Finally, after a long day drive home–I mean a short bike ride–you go to the mailbox for your weekly trip (no need to go more often; nothing important comes on paper anymore) to find a large packet from your employer.

It’s Open Enrollment Time, I mean… No, that’s exactly what I mean, unfortunately.

Advances in technology have impacted the way we live and work, in all areas except employee benefits and human resources…until now.

Traditionally an industry laggard from a technology adoption perspective, employee benefits and human resources technology are now on the fast track. U.S. companies invested $2 billion into HR technologies in 2016 alone, and it’s estimated to be a $20 billion industry by 2020.

What’s driving the Change?

There are many contributing factors that influence why HR and employee benefits are starting to really embrace technology, but here are our top three.

• The Cloud Has Decreased the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Gone are the days of HRIS systems being only for those with larger budgets. The trend toward digital information that’s accessible from anywhere has removed many of the hurdles (staffing, IT infrastructure, etc.) that previously contributed to making HRIS systems unaffordable for many. Standardization, configuration, and hosting delivered by the cloud have opened the market to small and middle market employers alike. It’s also allowed for employers to switch platforms faster and more easily if they find a new vendor with the features and functionality they’re looking for—whether that’s mobility, AI, predictive analytics, decision support or something else.

• Employees Demand It. It used to be that the technology available to employees at the workplace was more advanced than what was accessible personally. This is no longer the case. Advancements in mobile technology have allowed employees to manage most of their daily lives on their phones. Additionally, shifting workforce demographics mean another new generation of young professionals is entering the marketplace. These employees are demanding the same tools they have at home, and they aren’t afraid to move from one employer to the next until they have found one that’s committed to investing in them.

- The C-Suite Demands It; “Show me the data!” Employers now recognize that Talent Management pays off—and the role HR technology plays in achieving this has never been more prominent. Effectively recruiting, developing, evaluating, rewarding, retaining, and otherwise maximizing the engagement and contribution of all employees is possible with the “right” tools.

Analyst firms like Bersin & Associates (now owned by Deloitte) have published research showing that when talent management processes, technology, and teams within HR functions are meaningfully linked, the business impact is often dramatic. Focus areas such as employee retention and productivity (i.e., revenue per employee) are noticeably higher in organizations achieving a high degree of talent management integration. Specifically, organizations with best-in-class talent management practices achieve

• 29 percent higher employee engagement

• 26 percent higher revenue per employee

• 17 percent lower voluntary turnover

• 18 percent higher earnings

These results result in increased productivity and profit. Still wondering why the C suite is driving HR Technology now?

What’s still standing in the Way?

With support seemingly coming from all stakeholders, you may be wondering why all organizations aren’t scrambling to ramp up technology and start reaping the rewards. It’s because it’s not really as easy as it seems.

1. Choice Paralysis. A tremendous number of options exist in the market today. With new options being created all the time, it’s extremely difficult to determine which option is the best fit. Too many times employers move forward with a platform without the proper due diligence and end up with a system that does not meet their needs, so they’re shy about sifting through what’s available to find what’s just right.

2. Lack of Resources. You’ve completed your RFP process and feel great about the vendor you selected. But you’re only part of the way there. If you don’t dedicate the time and resources to fully implement and integrate the product with your organization and its structure, all the effort put forth toward finding the right technology will be in vain.

3. Change Is Hard. Although many employees are demanding the new technology, there are always people who are less than excited by anything “new.”Or they may be excited but not know exactly what to do. Increased productivity can only be obtained if there’s buy-in from the entire organization and everyone uses the new resource in their day-to-day activities.

Technology research firm Gartner says 50-75 percent of all enterprise resource planning (ERP) projects fail. While the HR module is just one slice of an ERP pie, it’s still a scary statistic. That’s why it’s important to understand what solutions you want your potential new technology to help solve for—and how to make the most of your technology when you start to implement it.