Is HR Meeting Total Rewards and Employee Engagement Expectations?

By Carey Mckenzie, Senior Vice President and Managing Partner, U.S. Region, Morneau Shepell

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Regardless of industry, technological advancements and their disruptions to the way we conduct business have and will continue over time to shape the definition of work, the workplace and our workforce. That isn't new; it's one of the key reasons why businesses need HR.

HR professionals are on point for guiding the business through significant transformative changes that impact our people resources and how they operate. We were there during the advancements in robotics technology which affected industries such as manufacturing, and we responded. Now we are reacting to technological advancements, such as artificial intelligence and analytics, that are changing everything from customer service to medical treatments.

Employees Have Needs Too

During our quest for improved flexibility, efficiency and productivity over the last decade, we developed a very diverse workforce made up of people from various backgrounds and lifestyles, all with varying expectations and needs. Just as the definitions of "work" and the "work day" were changing, the definitions of things like "work/life balance," "benefits" and "engagement" were also changing.

The new workforce has very specific expectations of their employer's role in providing solutions that respond to their specific situation and unique needs as it relates to their total health and well-being. Our employee demographics aren't just shifting across different generations, but are also shifting across many different lifestyles. One-size-fits-all solutions won't cut it anymore and anything short of individualized and personalized interaction won't be accepted.

Change is Good Unless You Are Unprepared

We know that the new workforce is comfortable with change. While this is great news, data suggests that employees are willing to change employers who don't respond to their needs. We also know that, in this era where sharing information through social media is normal, you may not only have positive experiences socialized, but you may also end up with unsolicited exit interview feedback exposed as well. This now means that our challenge expands beyond just engagement, and stretches to attraction and retention.

So now that the technology has become available even before we ask for it and our diverse workforce is made up of early adopters and tech savvy experts who cannot imagine life without constant connectivity . . . what should HR do?

With significantly less limitations today in communications and mobile capabilities, we are pursuing the globalization of our workforces more easily and we are accommodating flexibility and individualization for our employees. Accessibility of data combined with technology advancements can be leveraged to understand employer-specific analytics, as well as industry-benchmarked analytics, to ensure you are delivering programs tailored for maximum engagement and employee experience. The tools and services need to utilize the right modalities that resonate with your unique workforce.

Do Your Programs Need a Makeover?

Do your employee benefits and engagement programs need a make-over? Are you treating your employees the way they want to be treated? There are a few key considerations in answering these questions.

HR leaders will need to keep an open mind and not only gain deep understanding of their workforce needs, but also make sure their employees know that they understand and that they care. Once that understanding has been established, can your existing tools and programs provide the experience that your employees are looking for?

Employees want individualized choice that is meaningful to them. This can be accomplished through customized benefits offering (which include lifestyle, financial and medical benefits), tailored communications through any delivery channel (chat, mobile, text) or support resources that promote holistic wellness.

Regardless of the solution, programs and technology need to embrace the mind-shift and changing dynamics around HR transactions. Employees want an integrated journey that creates relevant choice and provides meaningful support.

As an example, a seemingly straightforward birth of a child should be much more than adding that child as a covered dependent to a medical plan. It should be handled as a special moment in the employee's life with many considerations to undertake such as financial readiness, potential lifestyle changes and impact to work life.

It is finally starting to feel like there is no limit to the future of business and people thanks to the availability of sophisticated technology. We need bold and innovative HR leadership during this time of business transformation to ensure we're treating employees the way they want to be treated.

Oct 2, 2017
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