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Employers See Need for 'Diverse' Tech Ecosystem, Collaboration Beats Reskilling and More HR Tech News

November 04, 2020 Digital Workplace
Mark Feffer
By Mark Feffer
The COVID-19 pandemic spurred innovation in HR technology even as it’s disrupted business operations around the world. Responding to their customers’ needs during the crisis, vendors have revised their roadmaps to meet fundamental changes to how and where work gets done.

Adding to the movement is employers’ growing belief that HR can’t operate at its best when it relies on a single system of record. That’s according to the Fosway Group, a UK-based analyst firm with a focus on the European market. Even as HCM suites become more powerful, an increasing number of specialized products have launched to streamline, or even transform, how HR processes are addressed, Fosway said. As a result, a “new ecosystem approach” allows employers to combine narrowly focused solutions with more traditional platforms.

The company’s 2020 Fosway 9-Grid for Cloud HR examined both HCM suites and specialized solutions, encompassing traditional and next-generation approaches to people management, employee experience and old and new talent processes. The results showed several impacts for employers, namely in support of their digital transformation efforts.

Neither business continuity plans nor vendor roadmaps anticipated the pandemic’s challenges, Fosway noted. Still, vendors were able to refocus efforts to help employers by developing solutions in areas such as video interviewing, virtual onboarding, digital learning, shift management and workforce supply. As a result, the report said, “[d]espite a steep learning curve for corporate HR teams and suppliers, full digital transformation is now a reality.”

Meanwhile, HR is operating in the thick of things as it never has before. Because of the pandemic, HR leaders are more involved in strategic decision-making and corporate leadership regards their expertise as “critical” to managing costs, keeping operations going and planning for an eventual return to work.

Fosway also found that more than half (60%) of European enterprises operate with HR suites that are only partially standardized. Given the number of companies that take a decentralized approach to HR, that makes sense. At the same time, these organizations aim to improve the performance and impact of HR on an organization-wide basis. That requires managing technology solutions across the ecosystem, rather than by silo, the report noted.

Meanwhile, HR teams want their solutions to be as frictionless as possible. By adding digital capabilities, they can streamline processes, increase their impact and ease the frustration felt by the workforce as it tries to navigate various systems. In particular, the report noted, vendors and employers both aim to deliver HR services in the flow of work and integrate them with productivity tools.

And although user experience remains important, it may not be “the critical differentiator that many believe,” the report said. Solid UX is quickly becoming table stakes, Fosway suggested, but reducing friction as part of that experience is taking priority. One result may be that HR systems become less visible as more tasks become embedded into the employee’s primary flow of work.

Finally, a number of vendors have scrambled to improve their offerings in time and attendance, service delivery and similar areas. As companies wrestle with the details involved in managing remote workers or planning for return to the office, HR operations doesn’t seem so dull anymore, Fosway reported.

Employers Favor Collaboration Over Reskilling, Survey Says

Global HR leaders expect the newly dispersed workforce will make it challenging to balance employee needs with organizational goals, policies and culture. And as they labor to develop strategies, many organizations are prioritizing their need to support collaboration and remote work in the short term over training employees for the future.

The emphasis on remote work is understandable. Employers generally agree that their approach here is a differentiator with external candidates, according to a survey by Oxford Economics, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and human capital management vendor SAP SuccessFactors. More than half of the employers in the U.S., and 38% overseas, believe establishing a culture that supports remote employees will be one of their top three challenges once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

Given that, many view their capabilities in this area as a long-term investment, and interest in collaboration solutions outpaced that of analytics or return-to-work products. For all the talk about reskilling from analysts and learning vendors, few employers plan to invest in reskilling and upskilling programs over the next 12 months. In the U.S., less than a quarter of respondents have such plans (22%). Overseas, 38% of HR leaders plan to pursue new learning programs.

At least in the U.S., one reason may be an emphasis on making new hires rather than promoting from within. Such a “buy-versus-build” mentality can be short-sighted, the report suggested, because it addresses near-term challenges at the expense of retaining institutional knowledge.

This isn’t particularly surprising. Earlier this year, Randstad Sourceright found that only 22% of employers would take responsibility for reskilling their employees to meet business needs, even though 92% of HR leaders thought they should do so. Meanwhile, Gartner found that the number of skills necessary in the workplace increases at a rate of 10% annually.

On the culture front, American interest in corporate culture and value lag the commitment seen in other countries, the report indicated. While more than 80% of U.S. respondents say they’re likely to recommit to culture, value and inclusive hiring and promotion, they’re less likely to undertake specific actions. For example, just 46% of American HR leaders said they’re likely to adjust compensation to address pay inequities. That compares to 64% in the UK. Forty-seven percent of U.S. respondents are likely to change structure or benefits to foster inclusion, compared with 73% in Mexico and 67% in Spain.

News Briefs

Ceridian launched a new product to help HR leaders create effective benefits packages, while making it easier for employees to research and understand which plans best fit their needs. The human capital management cloud vendor said its Dayforce Benefits Intelligence forecasts benefits enrollment trends and costs by simulating the adoption of different plans and measuring their financial impact, the company said. It also helps HR identify strengths and weaknesses in each plan by measuring usage and distribution across the workforce. What-if scenarios allow for plan testing, and benefits calculations are updated in real time as employees make elections.

Payroll specialist Paychex launched integrations with the Apple Watch and Google Assistant. The connections allow employees to access their HR information without having to log in from a mobile device or desktop. Employees can view their most recent pay information through Apple Watch, or retrieve their pay information and Paychex Flex notifications via voice command on Google Assistant.

London-based SHL, a talent management provider with a core strength in talent assessment, will integrate its live interviewing technology with videoconferencing platforms including Zoom and Microsoft Teams. The company’s customers will be able to use their existing solutions with SHL’s Smart Interview to digitally schedule and conduct interviews.

JobSync, a talent acquisition and recruiting provider based in Haymarket, Va., launched an integration with Monster that allows customers to take advantage of the job site’s one-click apply process.

Planful will enhance its workforce planning product to extend capabilities and improve collaboration between finance departments and HR. The platform will help employers standardize compensation calculations by using data from finance, HR and operations, analyze the financial impact of workforce decisions and forecast scenarios based on cost drivers.

The global corporate wellness industry generated some $50 billion in 2019, and is forecast to generate about $66 billion by 2027, a CAGR of 5.9%, according to Allied Market Research. An increase in chronic disease plus increasing awareness of wellness programs is behind the growth, though those costs involved in such efforts hinder expansion.

Talent marketplace MarketerHire raised $3 million in funding with participation from the company’s founders and several individuals. The round brings MarketerHire’s total financing to $4 million. The company also launched MarketerMatch, which parses jobs into distinct attributes across more than a dozen marketing roles.

PayScale announced Data Marketplace, a recommendation engine that suggests salary survey data to users based on their information and behavior. The point is to help customers of the company’s MarketPay survey management tool purchase appropriate data from PayScale partners. Data Marketplace will launch sometime in 2021.

People on the Move

Bob Lopes was named chief human resources officer of Randstad North America. He joined from sister company Randstad Sourceright. (Randstad North America)

Boris Shimanovsky and Renata Dionello have joined talent acquisition company ZipRecruiter as chief technology officer and chief people officer, respectively. Most recently, Shimanovsky was senior vice president of engineering at Foursquare while Dionello led corporate development for Sony Playstation. (Business Wire)

Job advertising platform PandoLogic appointed Jason Putnam as SVP of sales. He worked previously at BountyJobs. (PandoLogic)

Aspen HR hired Mark Sinatra as CEO. He joins as the company prepares to launch a professional employer organization (PEO) in January. (PR Newswire)

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