Impact of 2018 HR Trends in Technology to Benefits Departments & Providers

May 16, 2018 | Thought Pieces

Impact of 2018 HR Trends in Tech

By Dino Alcoseba

The year 2017 brought major developments in technology for the world. The rise of blockchain technology, augmented / virtual reality, artificial intelligence and machine learning, as well as the ever changing landscape of the world’s workers has forced business leaders to take a long hard look at their companies and see if they are ready for the future of work and the challenges it brings. The question of readiness will always begin with an assessment of an organization’s culture and people, which is one of the chief responsibilities of a company’s Human Resources Department. Moreover, this question is also thrown to providers of technology such that the products and services offered to businesses and consumers must address not just the needs of today, but also flexible enough to adapt to the employees of tomorrow.

In a recent article by the Ateneo Center for Organization Research and Development in 2018, one of the top concerns of HR/OD practitioners would be the increase in the improvement and use of technology. Employers and employees alike must be abreast of the current technological trends in order to understand the technologies out there and how it can best support current and future processes and operations. An obvious key area of research and interest of STORM is specific to employee benefits and the ways technology can support enhanced ways to deliver benefits. In the following parts, we explore various technological trends and explore how benefits practitioners and providers can use this information in order to make employee life better.

In a 2018 study by Deloitte where 10 disruptions in HR technology were identified, we have narrowed our focus down to 5 main trends. We discuss how these impact current work and what it means for benefits technology.

1. New focus on tools for workforce productivity  – There has been an increased shift from traditional ways of communication from email to more real time forms of communication ingrained in business with the rise of online tools like Slack, Workplace by Facebook, and Microsoft Teams. This has allowed for a much more efficient work process as companies now rely on rapid feedback and greater collaboration between teams to produce business results. This also means that the design of these tools borrow from social networking applications with the speed of delivery of messages, the sharing of information in an instant, and the capacity to communicate to a multitude of co-workers at the same time.

What this means for benefits professionals and providers – With this observed trend, the way benefits are communicated must adapt to these new tools and forms of communication. Since information must now be easily accessible and decentralized, a shift has to be made from

more traditional ways to make employees aware of their benefits like employee manuals and sending documents via email to more digital versions of these information, uploaded in an online database synced to where employees communicate. Given this, providers must also take a look at integration with communication tools such that employees will only look at one platform in order to access all sorts of information. Since the priority of providers and the ones handling benefits should be to allow employees to understand what benefits they are entitled to and what the processes are to avail of them, but at the same time protecting data privacy and information, there has to be careful analysis into how these are communicated and made available to employees.

2. Team Management – This pertains to the rapid shift in understanding company structures. Though there are still traditional company structures that involve business units, departments and the like, there has also been the concept of teams, which groups employees of different disciplines in order to accomplish short or long term projects.

What this means for benefits professionals and providers – With this rise of the concept of teams, benefits providers and professionals must also explore and support benefits structures for these teams. Could there be varying benefits for different teams? What are the benefits of outsourced professionals for short term projects? Given the increased need to provide benefits to all types of employees working for companies, this should be taken into consideration when designing benefits programs to teams and what types of technologies could be used in support of these programs.

3. Wellbeing – In the recent years, much has been mentioned about health insurance and the ballooning costs of providing these benefits. Also, there has been an increased understanding into what constitutes employee health, as not just physical, but also mental as well. These have also brought about the need to track one’s own health on a more regular basis, paving the way for the rise of wearable such as smartwatches, heartbeat monitors, and the health applications that are installed as default in all smartphones.

What this means for benefits professionals and providers – Given that wellbeing is now a much broader concept than initially realized, the responsibility of providing relevant and appropriate benefits catered to all types of employees has never been more needed. This also opens up more opportunities to provide employee care as benefits professionals and providers beyond the standard insurances that have been given. This allows for greater collaboration between departments, teams, and managers in order to help employees not just with their work, but also their wellbeing as a whole. Benefits professionals and providers are now tasked with providing the necessary information and services for employees to become aware of their state of wellbeing as well as know the right avenues and tools in order to become a much more productive employee.

4. Employee Self Service – This is a combination of most of the trends identified, that given the rise of more rapid communication, the understanding of a different set of workers grouped under the concept of teams, and the emphasis on productivity has opened up the need for much more scalable support to meet the demands of the workforce of today. Because of this, there has been significant discussion into making applications used by employees much easier and faster. There has been less importance put on deep functionality and more on ease of use, given that much larger populations would use such applications.

What this means for benefits professionals and providers – Simply put, benefits professionals and providers must also follow suit. They must focus on the experience of an employee when accessing benefits information and availing of these benefits. Concepts such as design thinking and user interaction and experience must be part of the vocabulary of people occupying these roles. In order to support all types of workers from all parts of the world, a clear understanding of design and how information is communicated must be at the forefront of any benefits initiative and/or service.

5. HR Departments becoming more digital and innovative – HR departments of the past have always been seen as largely resistant to change and lacking in technological prowess. However, due to the increased demand for talent and the competencies necessary to adapt to this, HR professionals are now upskilled to take on these new challenges. These include a deep understanding of company processes, how technology can enhance these processes, and the understanding of the overall employee experience. Since technology is now ingrained in all parts of the organization, HR departments are now putting emphasis into becoming innovators in their own fields.

What this means for benefits professionals and providers – This bodes well for benefits providers that are ahead in their specific spaces, because the business case for a well developed service / product that addresses specific employee needs can now be easily sold. No longer do benefit providers in technology have to speak in a different language with stakeholders of different companies, because these stakeholders can now understand the various terminologies of such technologies, as well as determine the resources needed to implement such products. The market is also ripe for providers who can make an impact on companies given the need to attract, retain and motivate top talent. For benefits professionals however, there is an increased pressure to adapt quickly. Aside from an understanding of functional process, there is now a need to understand technical process, a competency that was not expected until very recently. Benefits professionals and providers alike are faced with the similar challenge: Either adapt or companies will just move on to the next provider or employee that can.

These trends provide a glimpse into how technology can impact the future of work, but also provides an idea into the types of jobs that will also be present one day. As benefits professionals and providers, the onus is on us to understand these trends, but also be selective in to the type of technology to best enhance the companies we are part of, and ultimately make it a better place to work in.

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If you’re keen on learning what we do at STORM Technologies to address the diverse workforce, check out our flexible benefits solution, trusted by clients. Book a meeting with our representatives for more info. 

In our continued effort to be the lead in benefits technology in the Philippines, STORM has also recently launched ALLCARE–a decentralized platform that makes company benefits like healthcare, insurance, training, and other perks accessible to all workers including contractuals, freelancers and self-employed individuals.  If you’re a freelancer or gig economy worker, benefit provider, HR executive, insurance firm owner, or a blockchain enthusiast, let’s talk! Check out the website at allcare.io for your copy of the recent whitepaper and join our official Telegram Community to partake in the discussions, https://t.me/allcareio


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