HCM system changes are top of mind for HR. Here’s why that matters

With apparent light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, HR leaders are looking ahead to recovery. For a slim majority (51%), that might include a switch to a new human capital management solution in the next 12 months, according to a new survey.

And, it appears they will have the resources to do it. The survey, Transforming Employee Experience: A SWOT Analysis of 500 Human Resources Departments, from HCM provider isolved, found that 53% of those same HR leaders report their budgets have increased in 2021.

The company surveyed 500 HR managers, directors, vice presidents and chief people/HR officers “to learn the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing their departments” after a year marked by extreme changes to the workforce due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the survey, the top reasons cited for switching HCM systems were security issues, undergoing a digital transformation project and service issues. When it comes to 2021 “opportunities,” HR leaders say consolidating multiple HCM systems, boosting employee engagement and being able to recruit from anywhere due to remote workplaces were top priorities (all tied at 20%).

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“There isn’t an HR leader around who doesn’t want access to the latest tools and technologies to serve employees in the way they expect based on their consumer experiences,” says Amy Mosher, chief people officer at isolved, adding that the pandemic exposed many gaps in companies’ digital readiness. The survey data shows that organizations are now prioritizing investments in employee experience to close those gaps, she says.

“One way to improve that experience is by reducing the number of technology tools in place in favor of a single system of truth for both the HR admin and the employee,” Mosher says.

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Industry analyst Josh Bersin, who will deliver a keynote, HR Technology 2021: Facilitating Big Changes in Work, at the upcoming Spring HR Tech Conference, explains that core HCM systems are stretched thin, with massive demand and investment in HR tech at an all-time high.

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“The question is, can core HR tech providers continue to provide the level of innovation and flexibility they need to address the pandemic? The answer is no,” Bersin said during the fall HR Tech Conference, adding that traditional core providers have no choice but to shift into ecosystem structures—partnering with other providers to allow their solutions to integrate and address the myriad needs HR is seeking in tech platforms.

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And as the pandemic continues to unfold through 2021, technology will play an increasingly important role in addressing the fallout for workers.

“The big theme [for HR tech],” Bersin said, “is figuring out how to reduce stress, anxiety, financial concerns, uncertainty and concerns about productivity when people continue to work under very, very ambiguous conditions.”

In other isolved survey findings, on average, 55% of HR leaders reported using one to five different HCM software systems, while 29% use five to 10 systems. Companies with more than 500 employees are the most likely to use more than 10 solutions to manage HR.

Other key findings include:

  • HR leaders ranked remote work environments, stressed employees, overworked employees and negative attitudes among the top threats facing a positive company culture.
  • 48% of HR leaders expect recruiting to be more difficult in 2021 than in previous years.
  • The top-three threats facing talent acquisition in 2021 include the remote work environment brought on by COVID-19 (40%), hiring freezes due to COVID-19 (27%) and competitors with larger budgets (16%).
  • 44% will mandate that employees get a COVID-19 vaccine in order to return to work.

“To negate these challenges, HR leaders need to get to the root of understanding what employees need—moving away from wellness apps and shorter Zoom meetings—and toward enhanced flexibility, technology, training and transparency to support and build trust among the workforce,” Mosher says.

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