New HR tools for hourly workers, employee retention announced

This week's news roundup includes an HR tool designed just for hourly workers, a new offering from Limeade to help with talent retention and a new cloud-based benefits platform.

This week's crop of new products touches on nearly every type of employee: hourly workers, those with benefits and those too talented to lose.

Sapho's new Employee Experience Portal 5.0 aims squarely at the growing -- some would say underserved -- population of hourly workers. Using a mobile phone, tablet or the web, hourly workers can manage their shifts, deal with time entry and even get access to relevant company information.

The goal is to make life easier for employees and employers, said Peter Yared, CTO of Sapho, based in San Bruno, Calif. "There is a seismic shift happening now around hourly workers," Yared said. "Wages are increasing, and companies are starting to invest in IT that supports their hourly workers."

One thing that makes HR tricky with hourly workers is the high degree of employee turnover, Yared said. Ideally, once an employee is trained, he remains. But training can be difficult in companies with complicated legacy systems, and that can lead to increased turnover. Sapho's new platform could be a place where basic training information is easily available, Yared said, offering hourly workers an information safety net.

"The cost of training hourly workers is astronomical," he said. "This is one place where an employer could potentially see a lot of ROI."

More subtle benefits are also possible, Yared suggested. Not all hourly workers have cellphones with data plans, meaning they can't easily get online to find out about shifts, changes in company policies or even to request a day off. The more easily an hourly worker can have access to basic information and company-specific news that could be important, the better the connection between employer and employee, Yared said.

"All of a sudden, companies are ready for this now," he said. "They're going to fix the interactions IT has with their hourly workers."

Keep top talent happy

Limeade's Turnover Dashboard now has a feature that can help identify employees most likely to be job hunting. With a strong U.S. economy and high job demand in many sectors, the risk of employee turnover can be high in some areas.

Using machine learning, the new Turnover Dashboard feature lets HR pros look at detailed data from different departments, locations or countries, and then break that data down in to subgroups, as necessary. Once the groups are identified, the platform can reach out to those at the highest risk of leaving with content and activities designed to increase employee engagement. Over time, the machine learning algorithm will grow smarter about what matters to a company's top talent and provide more detailed information.

At the heart of this system are 40 variables -- pulled from data science analysis -- including Limeade's Well-Being Assessment responses and activity on the platform itself.

A cloud-based benefits platform

EBenefits, a benefits administration company that is part of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's insurance division, has begun to demo a cloud-based benefit platform. The platform offers a way for employers to not only provide benefit choices to employees, but also to keep tabs on what matters most through the use of data analytics. Employees can research options, including standard benefits, private exchanges and matters related to compliance with the U.S. Affordable Care Act.

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