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HR Leaders Plan to Spend More on Employee Experience & More HR Tech News

February 17, 2021 Digital Workplace
Mark Feffer
By Mark Feffer

HR budgets in 2021 have risen from last year’s levels, executives report, and much of the increase has been earmarked for workforce-related technology. However, whether money will be invested in solutions that expand the scope of HR’s work or tools that simply help practitioners address the needs of newly distributed workers remains unclear.

More than half (53%) of the HR leaders surveyed by HR technology provider isolved said their budgets have risen since 2020. Roughly the same proportion (51%) plan to implement a new human capital management technology solution sometime during the next 12 months.

Security issues, digital transformation and service issues are the top reasons driving technological change, with last year’s pivot to remote work cited as a key factor in the overall movement. For one thing, said Charlotte, N.C.-based isolved, HR departments have been forced to adopt a wider range of tools than they’ve used before in the past to administer their distributed workforce.

HR leaders are well aware that employees expect their digital experience at work to be on par with the experience they have with consumer-focused applications. Indeed, any number of studies have shown that worker interaction with business systems is a driver of their overall employee experience.

It’s not surprising, then, that the great majority of HR leaders (92%) told isolved that employee experience is a priority for 2021. The two top reasons: the remote-work environment and the need to improve retention, each cited by 32% of respondents.

Other findings include:

  • HR leaders ranked remote-work environments, stressed employees, overworked employees and negative attitudes as the top threats to positive company culture.
  • About 48% of HR leaders expect recruiting to be more difficult in 2021 than it’s been in previous years.
  • The top three threats facing talent acquisition include remote work (40%), hiring freezes due to COVID-19 (27%) and competitors with larger budgets (16%).
  • The top three threats to retention are remote work (33%), increasing employee experience expectations (14%) and competitors with larger budgets (14%).

Alight Solutions Takes Internal Events Virtual

Alight Solutions launched a digital platform designed to simulate the approach of benefit fairs and other formerly in-person internal events.

Called Virtual Employee Events, the platform takes an event-like approach but adds more personalization. Through “spaces” like lobbies and exhibit halls, the platform delivers tailored content and communications and helps connect employees with HR, benefits providers and counselors.

Since the pandemic began, a number of vendors — especially those involved in talent acquisition — have offered products to address the disruption of meetings, interviews and career fairs. Employers say videoconferencing tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams have also helped, but have been found lacking in many instances, especially when some combination of one-to-one and group interaction is involved.

Colin Brennan, Alight’s chief product strategy and services officer, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic “derailed in-person benefit fairs.” He called the Virtual Employee Events platform “an effective way for organizations to accommodate the new workplace.”

Lincolnshire, Ill.-based Alight said the platform has also been used for virtual inclusion and diversity events over the past year, and can also be used to host sessions for onboarding, training and sales events. The platform offers a combination of live and on-demand formats to accommodate those working remotely or outside of a 9-to-5 schedule.

The platform can be used with Alight’s UPoint UI products or as a standalone solution.  

New Eightfold Module Ties Employee Development to Strategy

Eightfold AI added a new Career Hub module to its talent management platform. The product is designed to give both HR and employees more flexibility in their approach to career development by providing intelligence and advice within a single platform.

The platform leverages AI, multiple data sources and matching algorithms in a single, comprehensive user experience. Eightfold’s underlying data helps the system consider the availability, maturity, relevance, learnability and evolution of skills in the global market, which in turn helps employers to be specific with their upskilling and reskilling programs, the company said.

Eightfold, based in Mountain View, Calif., said Career Hub is meant to help chief human resources officers align business objectives with the career goals of employees. "As remote and hybrid work environments become the norm, HR business leaders require deep insight into the capabilities of their entire workforce," the company said.

The Career Hub is available in 15 languages and can address the needs of both full-time and contingent workers. Among other things, it helps employees:

  • Keep profiles current by automatically updating them through integration with collaboration tools, task management systems, project management suites and other legacy systems.
  • Chart their career path within the flow of day-to-day work and discover in-house opportunities to learn new skills and capabilities.
  • Develop new capabilities with real-world projects in a talent marketplace that delivers experiential learning.
  • Work directly with recommended mentors and peer programs.

Eightfold AI CEO Ashutosh Garg observed that employees today seek out organizations who’ll invest in their long-term success. “They can’t be asked to go to five different places, or rely on a simple talent marketplace, to accomplish their goals,” he said. Eightfold set out to solve this problem with a scalable platform that puts career development “front and center for each employee.”

Changing Priorities and New Launches

Ensuring a safe work environment during COVID-19 is the top priority of small and mid-size U.S. businesses, according to a survey of 300 business leaders conducted by Oasis, a Paychex company. Shifting priorities have pushed attracting talent from the top of the list, where it has been for the past two years.

Among other findings, Oasis said 66% of business leaders use videoconferencing more frequently now than they did before the pandemic, and 39% anticipate continuing to use it after COVID-19 comes under control.  

ADP introduced StandOut coaching intelligence, a tool that integrates customized insights into coaching conversations, based on an individual’s strengths and what information they share with the platform during check-ins. The insights, which are provided as talking points to the manager involved in the discussion, are meant to encourage deeper conversations and result in more meaningful feedback to the employee being coached. 

WillHire launched WillHire OnDemand, an extension of its platform that focuses on filling roles of light industrial and shift workers. The product helps identify shifts that need to be filled, matches candidates using the company’s pre-vetted and public talent pools, and automatically begins outreach.

News Briefs

Contingent workforce management platform PRO Unlimited acquired Brainnet Group, a vendor-neutral managed services provider in the Netherlands. PRO said the move improves its ability to serve clients while delivering additional solutions to Brainnet’s customers. Separately, the company rolled out its diversity and inclusion platform, PRO Unites, which leverages analytics to aid employers in cultural inclusion, worker diversity, diversity intelligence and supplier diversity efforts.

DHI Group, publishers of the job boards Dice and eFinancialCareers, announced a stock repurchase program that will purchase up to $8 million of its common stock. The authorization will be in effect through February 11, 2022. “We believe the stock buyback program is recognition of the long-term prospects of the business and the undervalued price of our stock,” said CFO Kevin Bostick.

Talview said its recruitment, candidate and proctoring applications have been certified compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2. The guidelines are meant to aid users with a range of hearing, movement, sight and cognitive abilities to apply for job openings and take exams.

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