4 tips for a competitive HR edge in 2020

HR and benefits teams need to be empowered in order to report on the success of their programs and to give employees a better benefits experience.

While investing in your employees is the smartest business decision you can make, HR and benefits professionals are beginning to expand their focus to more than talent retention. In 2020, North American headquartered organizations have zeroed in on their top three benefits strategy objectives:

  1. Promoting employee health and well-being.
  2. Attracting and retaining talent.
  3. Driving overall business performance

Those three objectives all have one common goal: to inspire and engage employees, resulting in more productivity, creativity, and innovation within the workplace. Here are four ways organizations can achieve these objectives for a competitive edge.

1. Adopt and maximize HR technology

While the majority of HR leaders believe they are innovators, they also admit to several obstacles when it comes to technology investment. Increasingly, HR and benefits teams are required to prove their contribution towards achieving organizational goals. However, one of the biggest barriers continues to be lack of buy-in from senior leadership to invest in the technology necessary to deliver on these. HR and benefits teams need to make the benefits of tech clear to the C-suite, as, without the people data and insights that come from this technology, teams cannot accurately report on ROI on spend or engagement on benefits– which for 55% of organizations accounts for 16% to 25% or more of payroll.

Without new technology, teams will struggle to answer key questions such as: Based on usage, how much can we expect to spend on health care next year, per country or per age range? Are our employee well-being initiatives actually working through a reduction in insurance claims or absences for example? Do we need to adjust our HR strategy to accommodate regional differences? HR and benefits teams need to be empowered in order to report on the success of their programs and to give employees a better benefits experience.

2. Support your staff

The happier the employee, the more engaged they are. Studies have shown that engaged employees are less likely to leave for another job. This could save billions of dollars in recruiting and hiring costs. But it’s not only about turnover and retention. Employee health and well-being may also have a huge impact on productivity. According to the Workforce Attitudes Towards Behavior Health report, 48% of respondents revealed they have cried at work. Work-related stress causes nearly one million people to miss work or work less effectively every single day, costing businesses as much as $300 billion in annual losses.

Employee wellness programs play a big part in ensuring employees feel valued and supported by their employers. This is crucial when trying to gain a competitive edge in the talent market. Our research shows that benefits teams in North America understand this and are prioritizing employee well-being programs as a result.

Providing employees with choice is key to make sure the support you offer is meeting their individual needs. As organizations recognize this, we’re seeing more and more employers implement wellness pots. Wellness pots allow employees to choose how to spend a wellness allowance from their employer. This can be used in a variety of ways, from mindfulness programs, exercise classes or even art classes.

3. Discover the potential of people analytics

Our research shows that 82% of North American organizations are already collecting employee data on employee performance (69%), departmental cost control (75%) and productivity (61%). People analytics also continues to gain traction throughout organizations, with nearly three-quarters (70%) of businesses establishing dedicated teams to measure and analyze this data.

However many organizations are still failing to measure the areas that have a direct impact on productivity and performance, such as engagement with the organization and well-being. Many are still faced with barriers to effective data collection and analysis, with a lack of technology (25%), poor quality data (38%) and data literacy (25%) cited as the main reasons.

HR and benefit teams are overwhelmingly looking to upskill their existing staff to be able to interpret this data, rather than replacing them with technology. Digital transformation is not a threat for HR professionals, but an opportunity, enabling them play a more strategic role within their organization.

4. Recognize the value of the HR team

North American organizations stand out from the rest of the world by prioritizing business performance in their top three benefit objectives (this ranks fourth globally). This mirrors the intensely competitive corporate environment in the region. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, the United States is the most business performance competitive nation in the world.

However, it’s not enough to just drive business performance. HR and benefits teams also have to be recognized as the agent of increased performance. Benefits teams in North America are using employee data to measure against peer organizations in order to guarantee this. This shows the board and the C-suite how the organization stacks up against their competitors and that HR’s strategy is working to support business performance.

Looking towards the future

During the last few years, HR professionals have begun to take better advantage of technology. It is the time for HR and benefits professionals to emerge from their functional silos and become the key strategic players and drivers of business performance they should be powered by technology. Inevitably more change is to come by 2022, the use of data and data analytics will skyrocket with more upskilling on the table. Are you ready?

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