London, Wednesday 2 September, 2020: While 51% of HR leaders label the HR technology experience provided by their organisation as ‘great’, less than a third (33%) of employees would agree, a new report by Thomsons Online Benefits finds.

'The age of agility: Flexible, adaptable and resilient benefits' 2020/21 report surveyed 542 HR leaders and 2000 global employees to reveal a disconnect when it comes to views on enterprise technology.

This is particularly concerning given the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent shift to home working, which is leaving employers more reliant on technology to engage with their employees.

Against this backdrop, and with distributed working likely to become a hallmark of our future, it’s more important than ever that employees feel connected with their workplace technology. And yet, just 39% feel it offers a consumer-grade experience akin to that provided by platforms such as Spotify and Netflix. Despite consumer technology’s capabilities constantly improving prior to the pandemic, businesses are not taking their employees’ workplace experience seriously – especially when it comes to technology.

This presents a significant blind spot for HR leaders. Four in five (81%) say that a globally consistent employee experience is a ‘high priority’, while over half (56%) highlight this as their number one priority. However, failure to improve employees’ technology experience could see them fall short against this important objective.  

Chris Bruce, Co-founder and MD, Thomsons, comments: “The current crisis has accelerated two significant shifts. Firstly, people are becoming less tolerant of bad tech experiences. When they’re interacting with intuitive technologies every day to watch movies, shop and keep fit, anything less than this is actively disengaging – and it’s shocking that HR leaders are still not taking this seriously.

“Secondly, employees’ technology experience is increasingly interlinked with their overall employee experience. With employee experience such a top priority, a sub-standard tech experience just isn’t good enough – especially now that via technology is often their primary method of engagement.”

Encouragingly for HR leaders, employees are not looking for sweeping change; rather, they want the basics done right. 39% are looking specifically for mobile access to HR systems: this is three times the number that want augmented reality (13%) or VR to support mindfulness or meditation (12%). What’s more, heeding these preferences has a visible impact on employee satisfaction. Those who can access their benefits on a mobile device are more satisfied (54%) than those who rely on paper forms (32%).

Chris Bruce continues: “Investing in a technology infrastructure that people can access from anywhere has never been more important. Employees will be experiencing disruption in very different ways right now. Some will be back in the office, some still at home and some on the frontline in service roles, but all need to receive a universal employee experience that is user-friendly and personalised. Technology is key to providing this, and making HR teams more secure, agile and responsive.”

Josh Bersin, Global Industry Analyst adds: “It’s essential that employers put their people at the heart of technology decisions and don’t just throw a lot of disparate tools at the problem. The pandemic has magnified the requirement for centralized HR and benefits systems. These are now critical employee services. The next year presents an opportunity for HR leaders to embrace these to create an integrated, engaging and productive employee experience.”

About the research

‘The age of agility: Flexible, adaptable and resilient benefits’ 2020/21 report surveyed over 542 HR professionals in multinational organisations of over 5,000 employees, with global responsibilities. 8% of these respondents were UK-based.

2000 employees in organisations working in multinational companies comprising 5,000 people or more were also surveyed about the benefits that they have on offer, as well as the workplace technology experience their organization provides them with.

About Thomsons Online Benefits

Thomsons Online Benefits is a SaaS provider of global employee benefits and employee engagement software. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mercer, a global consulting leader in advancing health, wealth and career. Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC). Thomsons’ award-winning platform, Darwin™, is the global market leader for automated employee benefits administration. With over 4 million lives on Darwin™, it connects employees with their benefits in over 100 countries and 40 languages. By using the right combination of editions, Darwin™ provides a tailored solution to meet a variety of employee benefit and reward needs, including employee engagement, managing risk, controlling costs and streamlining benefits administration. Its ability to constantly evolve and cater for shifting workforce needs has made it the provider of choice for eight of the world’s top ten technology companies. Thomsons has received 109 industry awards, including the prestigious Brandon Hall Group gold award for Best Advance in Rewards and Recognition Technology in 2015, and the latest win, Most Effective Use of Benefits Technology at the Employee Benefits Awards 2017 for our work with Bristol-Myers Squibb. Mercer and Thomsons combine world-class consulting and broking with innovative technology, driving transformation in the way that benefits are designed, communicated and administered.