There are now 6.4 billion connected devices in use worldwide, according to the analyst house Gartner. As technology becomes a growing part of our everyday lives at work and on the move, workers will  increasingly want to use their devices to access HR services at the office, from home, and while travelling. This presents a great opportunity for the HR function to connect and engage with employees on many more platforms, embedding technology across  all initiatives and programmes within HR.

However, our 2015 Global Employee Benefits Watch Report has uncovered that few organisations are currently maximising on technology; and only 13% of companies are currently using mobile apps to communicate employee benefits. Considering that the average person checks their phone 27 times a day, a huge number of organisations are missing the opportunity to differentiate themselves with an engaging and user-friendly mobile benefits platform.

This poses an interesting challenge for HR professionals and the question becomes not ‘if’ but ‘when’ will HR functions increase their use of technology to engage with their employees. Bersin by Deloitte Predictions for 2016, highlight that ‘digital life is “forcing us to rethink HR from top to bottom.” From how we design programs and tools, to the methods we use to roll out and communicate solutions’.

So, what are the compelling reasons for taking the plunge now?

1. Make a connection 

Today’s employees are used to easy, effortless, and highly intuitive software experiences across all of their devices outside of their workplace. They now expect the same real-time communications internally and across HR services. If these expectations are not met, they create engagement blockers. This could have a real negative impact on engagement. Bersin predicts a major move towards ‘Digital HR’, stating that although, ‘IT will help HR build apps and adopt the right infrastructure, it is HR’s job to design apps that are as easy to use as Facebook & Instagram’.

It is no surprise that introducing a user-friendly employee-facing benefits portal is the top benefits technology investment priority for over half (55%) of HR professionals surveyed. And 44% of organisations are looking to introduce online tools in the coming year. With the number of devices in use by employees ever increasing, employers must be careful not to fall behind the trend. Then to find their benefits spend is no longer being recognised or appreciated by employees.

2. Stay ahead of the curve

Many companies have already taken steps to link their systems to connected devices. Integrating their procedures and software to connect with back-end systems, such as talent acquisition, payroll, employee engagement and benefits. 

Others are making great progress in the innovative use of technology. One of our clients, for example, ran a communications campaign using an augmented reality application. The app allows employees to interact with objects around the office to enhance engagement with their benefits scheme. Employers that struggle to keep up with these mobile-friendly options could find employees are quick to judge what the competition is offering. This is why it is so important to differentiate your offering through an accessible and engaging mobile benefits platform.

The growth of wearables has also opened up new ways for companies to personalise employee benefits and improve health and happiness. These can help affect productivity as well as provide valuable insight. If employees were struggling to sleep for example, after-work yoga sessions could help them unwind and enjoy a more peaceful evening. Or just imagine going to the gym or for a run, and having your employer top up your holiday time as a reward.

To keep employees happy and productive, there should be proactive investment in forward-thinking HR and benefits technology. It should adapt to change (pensions legislation is a prime example), but also be user friendly with a mobile-responsive and simple user interface. It can open up employee accessibility to their benefits information and help to keep them informed as well as guide and educate them into making good financial decisions. Globally and across sectors, businesses are experiencing a growing demand for personalisation and customisation, from both customers and employees. The growing number of connected devices plays a significant role in achieving this. By increasing the number of touchpoints, technology is paving the way for new, more agile business processes that empower the workforce and allow organisations to engage their employees in fundamentally new ways.

If you are interested in finding more ways of engaging your workforce, click here to watch our webinar ‘Engagement Through Benefits – Does Communication Matter?’