This past February I was invited to speak about global benefits technology alongside our partner at their ADP Rethink event in Rome, which in itself was an amazing opportunity. I was further excited to see global benefits finally high on the HR agenda.

It is an incredible time to be in the HR technology space.  We are witnessing HR going through the biggest change in a generation as companies’ transition their HCM services into cloud based software solutions. 

Over the last 5 years we have seen the growth of cloud based HCM systems, talent, recruitment, learning and payroll technologies. This is now the new normal. 

What about benefits? 

While in some countries like the US and UK, it also became standard to use cloud based solutions to manage domestic benefits, it is a different picture globally. Global benefits management is effectively the final frontier in the movement of HR services into the cloud.  

The good news is that a lot of multinationals are planning on addressing global benefits in the next year. According to the latest Global Employee Benefits Watch, 30% of multinationals are planning on significantly increasing their benefits technology spend in 2016.

So what is driving the change?

1. Businesses are more global.

Globalization is not a new trend; it’s the reality we are living in. Last year, multinationals employed 2.5 times more people outside their domestic market than within it. Many businesses are global or operating in multiple markets with virtual teams that operate on a 24/7 basis. In this new reality, organizations have to think more globally than they did 15-20 years ago, especially around governance, business processes, and people management. 

This requires HR teams to operate more globally, coordinating operations and functions with the ability to scale. Yet, planning to scale can only be done if there are appropriate systems in place that remove the manual and error-prone processes and enable end-to-end automation and visibility.

2. Legislation is increasingly complex.

There are numerous laws and regulations governing employee benefits in each country. HR professionals must understand and navigate them in order to help ensure their organizations avoid costly fines and other penalties, including the potential harm to their brand reputation.

3. Workforce is more diverse.  

Companies globally are faced with the challenge of managing a multigenerational workforce that is more diverse than it has ever been before.  

The increasing diversity and mobility of the workforce is forcing HR to think creatively and introduce new innovative ways to attract and retain talent. A big part of this is rethinking global benefits strategies, reward packages and communication tools. HR teams are challenged to ensure their compensation and benefits packages can be delivered across multiple locations, often encountering language and cultural barriers, as well as meeting local regulatory requirements.

4. Employees expect great user experience.

Over the past few years, the line between consumer and enterprise technologies has blurred. HR software buyers have started looking for technologies designed to support and engage people and help them be more productive while they’re at work. Benefits are increasingly becoming an area of focus. Without technology, employees have to enter the same information into multiple application forms. Moving this online, supports the creation of a positive onboarding experience. The days of complicated and badly designed enterprise software are gone; employees demand the same experience they get from the technology they use outside of work.

Looking at these trends, it is not surprising HR teams all over the world are looking for a scalable global benefits solution to empower and engage their employees. 

My only advice is to make sure you find the right technology partner whether you are looking to wholly outsource or manage benefits in-house. 

If you want to learn more about the trends, I encourage you to watch excerpts from the presentation at ADP Rethink or look through the slides.