The mass shift to remote working brought on by the pandemic has overhauled much of the nation’s day-to-day working practices. Questions around how to complete normal staff practices – whether it’s employee onboarding or submitting expenses – have had to be answered by technology. While some larger businesses were already further along the adoption curve for this technology, COVID-19 really brought with it an inflexion point for businesses of all sizes, in all sectors, needing to use these platforms.
Now that the tech has been adopted, there is no going back. Firstly, remote working will be more prevalent even once the crisis has passed. A survey of more than 2,000 office workers commissioned by behavioural science consultancy Mind Gym found that 6 in 10 wanted to remain working from home in some capacity on a permanent basis post- pandemic. Secondly, workplace expectations have changed, with the arrival of millennials into the workplace combined with a general universalisation of seamless digital experiences, there is more pressure on employers to provide slick, easy to use and easily accessible platforms. Lastly, Human Capital Market (HCM) tech solutions have been on this trajectory for a while, with SaaS solutions that could help free up HR teams already growing significantly ahead of 2020. This isn’t a new trend, but it is one that has been rapidly accelerated by the pandemic.
With no shortage of HCM tech platforms competing to make the most of the strong market growth, which ones will prevail in this new digital workplace?
1. Point solutions vs “one stop shop” platforms
There are a range of solutions in the market from single point solutions focused on one area of expertise to more comprehensive offerings that that solve for the wider digital workplace landscape, including areas such as admin and processing, payroll, learning & training, performance management and recruitment. The truth is that there will be winners in both these vendor categories, as long as they understand their target audience and position their offering accordingly.
SMEs or single territory businesses will often have simple requirements meaning that they may just need focused solutions on one area of the HCM market, or solutions which come with more out of the box functionality and cheaper price points. Given the sizeable addressable market and the market backdrop discussed above, those that can help SMEs easily upgrade their existing (often manual) processes through simple implementation and excellent customer service will have a great roadmap for growth.
But as you go up in size, there is an increasing range of demands from a broader range of customers that platforms will need to be able to solve for. To be successful here businesses need to offer a comprehensive breadth of content and functionality, a strong configurable platform that can be scaled up to suit needs such as global operations and a platform that connect to their other tech solutions to create a fully integrated system. These platforms that can deliver for businesses multiple solutions and solve complex needs will find themselves incredibly sticky and embedded in organisations, creating long term demand.
2. Platforms that deliver on engagement and wellbeing
With declining employee retention rates, employers are always looking for ways that they can provide an excellent experience for their people. Covid-19 has made this even more important as employee morale and mental health has become a key focus. There are a range of tools and platforms that can help employees with their wellbeing by taking pulse checks to ensure that the business has a live view as to how their people are doing. Those that can track and promote further engagement through, for example, social network analysis or listening tools, to gather and analyse employee sentiment and provide organisations with a more holistic view, are also becoming increasingly popular.
Having an engaging customer experience is always key for any tech tool, but now that businesses are almost exclusively engaging with their people through a tech interface and people are likely sat at screens for more of the day, this is even more important. In training, for example, there are opportunities for greater libraries of online training modules, more tailored programmes, and more interactivity, that can allow employees to upskill more effectively. The same can be said for tools that can facilitate greater levels of internal communication providing interaction with all types of workers including those who are not full time or work remotely, both now during lockdown and in the future where these methods of working become more normal.
3. Platforms that deliver on data, analytics and reporting
Gartner analysis shows that 16% of employers are using technologies more frequently to monitor their employees through methods such as virtual clocking in and out, or tracking work computer usage. While some companies track this for productivity, others are using technologies to monitor and report employee engagement and morale to better understand employee experience. Even before the pandemic, organisations were increasingly using employee monitoring technology, but that trend will be accelerated by new monitoring of remote workers and the collection of employee health and safety data.
And with HR teams under pressure during the pandemic, they will want to know the efficacy of any new tech. Being able to better track usage and engagement will be key to demonstrating this and will help to secure new client wins.
In conclusion, it’s clear that now, more than ever, HCM software solutions are central to how companies are reimagining their employee experiences and building organisational resilience. Those that can help them to do that through systems targeted to their needs, addressing macro trends such as engagement and wellbeing and with measurable outcomes, will win in the new digital workplaces. By doing so they will also free up the HR function to focus more on key initiatives around health and wellbeing, diversity and inclusion, and ESG initiatives, creating better workplaces for the future.
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