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Uncertainty Reigns About the Start of the Hybrid Work Era and More HR Tech News

January 13, 2021 Digital Workplace
Mark Feffer
By Mark Feffer
The industry talk has been incessant that remote work is here to stay. According to PwC’s latest U.S. Remote Work Survey, more than half of U.S. executives (52%) believe employee productivity has gone up since before the pandemic. More than a third of their workers agree.

At the same time, many aspects of what post-pandemic work will look like are in flux. For example, fewer than 20% of company leaders want to return to the office as it was before COVID-19. However, only 13% are ready to give up their offices completely. But if employers and employees lack a clear view of how work will get done going forward, most agree some type of hybrid approach will take root, with workers spending some time in the office and some time outside of it.

If nothing else, the pandemic has shown that work indeed gets done off-site. More than a third of employees (34%) believe they’re more productive now than they were before the pandemic. Executives agree, with 52% saying average employee productivity went up last year.

PwC said that in order to succeed with a hybrid approach to work, companies must accelerate investments that support virtual collaboration and creativity. The survey found that 60% of executives plan to spend more on collaboration tools and manager training on leading remote teams. Half expect to increase spending on efforts to support hybrid work in general, such as hoteling apps and creating more communal space in the office.

What’s not clear is the timeframe for this evolution to begin. For one thing, the timing is sure to depend on the progress made administering vaccinations for COVID-19. For another, employers and employees don’t see eye to eye on how quickly the return to work should proceed. By July, 75% of executives predict at least half of their workers will be back in the office. However, just 61% of employees believe they’ll be spending half their time on premises by then.

Employers Need to Boost Salaries Despite Economy

Despite the uncertain economy, businesses will need to increase salaries by up to 3.5% for high-demand roles if they want to remain competitive in the labor market.

Changes in consumer behavior are a big driver here, according to a report from talent provider Randstad US. Demand for workers in industries such as manufacturing and logistics has risen along with the amount of business being conducted online. By 2024, Randstad said, digital orders are expected to reach $477 billion.

Randstad’s U.S. Salary Guide suggests that jobs like warehouse and logistics managers will receive some of the largest increases as businesses struggle to fulfill e-commerce orders. Salaries for warehouse managers, for example, need to rise by 3.5%, to as much as $43.21 an hour, to remain competitive. Logistics managers will need a similar increase, to $45.95 per hour.

Manufacturers will have to spend in order to attract and retain assemblers, Atlanta-based Randstad said. Assembly line foremen may see raises of 2.4%, to as much as $32.37 an hour. The company also expects increases in the competitive pay rate for technology and skilled roles across the country.

Workers in fields like online sales and marketing are experiencing an increase in demand, as well, which will likely lead to pay increases this year. E-commerce business analysts and marketing media managers, for example, are likely to see a 0.5% bump, hitting annual salaries of up to $107,107 and $131,130, respectively. Again, the increases are largely driven by the pandemic-spurred rise in e-commerce which has accelerated a customer shift from brick-and-mortar stores to digital shopping.

More Vendors Offer More Learning Tools

The learning technology business is taking an increasingly holistic approach to employee education, offering more functionality from more vendors than it ever has before.

According to RedThread Research, COVID-19 and the remote-work environment have actually allowed many employers to get more users up and running than they’d planned for last year, and predicts the remote-work dynamic will continue to impact learning ecosystems. The research found that the overall L&D market has grown in terms of vendors, users, functionality and revenue. Also, company leaders are more likely to allocate budget toward employee development than they were two years ago.

Vendor revenue increased significantly during 2020, the California-based researcher found, rising to $599 million from $354 million in 2019. That makes sense, given a number of reports indicating that employers have increased training to both retool their workforces during the pandemic and to increase retention and employer brand.

Indeed, RedThread’s report found a significant rise in the number of learning solutions designed to support internal mobility: 44 solutions were available in 2020 compared to 20 in 2018. Even more dramatic was the growth in “enablement” tools, which help employees improve at their jobs even while they’re doing their jobs. There were 37 of those available in 2020, compared to just six in 2018.

Separately, Skillsoft added blended learning options to its learning platform Percipio. In addition to mentoring, live events and bootcamps, customers can administer virtual instructor-led training and instructor-led training programs. This, Skillsoft said, allows companies to provide a single “front door” for learners, making it easier to discover and access learning content.

Diversity Technology Firms Catch Investor Attention

D&I technology provider Syndio raised $17.1 million in Series B funding, led by Bessemer Venture Partners. The company said increasing demand for its platform has been driving growth recently as pay equity, increased representation of women and minorities in leadership ranks and workplace fairness have become “table stakes” for enterprise firms. Syndio’s flagship product, PayEQ, is used by more than 100 firms to analyze and resolve pay disparities across 2.3 million employees.

Meanwhile, Kanarys, a data collaboration platform that facilitates employer-employee discussions on diversity and inclusion, raised $3 million to expand its technology, hiring and sales and marketing efforts. According to media reports, the investment increases Kanarys’ funding to date to $4.6 million. The company’s technology gathers a variety of company and industry data and employee reviews to help employers benchmark their performance and identify areas that need improvement.

More Funding News

Benefits administrator and HR software provider Employee Navigator raised $34 million in growth equity funding from JMI Equity. The minority investment will fund hiring across all functions and help expand the company’s product. The company supports some 50,000 employers and 10 million employees and dependents.

Paycor said it has received commitments for $270 million in new investment. The investors Neuberger Berman, Qatar Investment Authority, ClearBridge Investments and Franklin Templeton.

News Briefs

Despite the pandemic and economic downturn, urgent and immediate needs have required many organizations to recruit high volumes of employees. Among employers using high-volume recruitment methods, 40% say the pandemic made them more likely to put such programs in place, reports the HR Research Institute. The report said just 32% of HR professionals strongly believe their companies are good at high-volume recruiting, and most of those at least sometimes use external partners, especially staffing agencies, to meet their goals.

The global HR advisory services market looked to be sluggish between 2019 and 2020, showing a growth rate of just 1.12%. COVID-19 was the main reason, ResearchandMarkets said, and not surprisingly. All that social distancing, remote work, business closure and general slowing down were going to act as a brake. Still, the slowdown should be temporary. The researcher expects the market to recover, and reach a value of $106.75 billion in 2023. That’s a CAGR of 7.13%.

Paradox acquired Spetz.io, an Israeli messaging platform focused on candidate communications. Founded in 2017, Spetz conducts automated chat to handle tasks such as pre-screening and scheduling.

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