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HR struggles to improve workforce experience

Improving employee experience, productivity and overall employee well-being are top priorities for HR managers, but they are difficult to achieve, according to the 2019 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report.

HR managers are giving themselves poor marks for their workforce experience efforts, according to the 2019 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report.

Improving workforce experience is a high priority, Deloitte reported. But it's also evolving, and HR managers are setting higher bars to reach. One of those goals may be more personalization of employee experience. It's hinted at in job ads.

EBay, for instance, recently advertised for a "people experience director," or someone who can "deliver service to eBay employees in a way that is personalized, proactive and reduces the friction of people processes." The job also calls for collaboration on medium- to long-range technology plans.

About 84% of the 10,000 business and HR professionals surveyed by Deloitte rated employee experience as an "important" issue. And 28% called it "urgent."

One reason for the emphasis on employee experience is its relationship to retention. More than half of the respondents "thought their employees would have an easier time finding a new job with a new employer than within their current organization," the report said.

More than half of the respondents also said their employees were either not satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the tools and technology, as well as the overall job design. Those "very satisfied" with employee experience were in the single digits.

Some of this may be due to tools, integration and human capital management (HCM) approaches.

Organizations are moving toward single HCM product suites, but they may not be getting the benefit of this built-in integration, said Bill Docherty, managing director at Deloitte/ConnectMe, the firm's name for its HR tool set.

The trend toward HCM consolidation

HCM suite integration employee experience benefits, such as self-service, may be impeded because "processes still very often have been owned by different parts of the organization," Docherty said.

Lisa Rowan, vice president of HR, talent and learning research at IDC, has also seen "a little bit of a move toward consolidation" around HCM suites.

There is a desire on the part of many organizations to lower the number of HCM vendors that they are working with, Rowan said. "The challenge is that consolidation takes time as it generally involves some large-scale changes," she said.

But HCM consolidation may not be long-lasting. Firms may consolidate their talent acquisition applications but then "find that there are new application areas popping up that are only available through best-of-breed providers," Rowan said. It then becomes a cycle of contracting and expanding HCM applications, she said.

Regardless of the broader trend on HCM consolidation, Deloitte believes the next step in workforce experience will be "human experience." This will require a more personalized approach and should consider the employee's goals, role and connections.

Creating a workforce experience like this could involve using HR tools, such as organizational network analysis, which look at who employees interact with and where connections are being established.

Another approach is to look at the HR tools that employees are using frequently and then personalize those tools for the employee, Docherty said.

One item flagged in Deloitte's report is learning opportunities and retraining. Nearly half of the firms surveyed reported making what they term a "moderate" or "significant" increase in reskilling.

One of the primary reasons people "quit their jobs is the inability to learn and grow," Deloitte said.

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