Studies show that disengaged employees cost U.S. companies up to $550 billion a year. In the rapidly changing workplace landscapes, the role of the HR department is more comprehensive than just recruitment. This includes focusing on other aspects of the company such as employee engagement. Healthy and engaged employees, in concert with strong workplace culture, are imperative for business success. The primary need of the human resource department is to provide a high return on the business’s investment in its people.

According to a CareerBuilder survey, 61% of employees are burned out on the job. This could be for a variety of reasons including manual, repetitive tasks and lack of recognition. Today’s employees expect more from their job than just a paycheck. They want to feel truly engaged in their work and enthusiastic about the common goals they are trying to achieve with the company. With changing employee expectations and demands, a thoughtfully designed Employee Experience (EX) is imperative today.

The employee experience is holistic and takes into account the physical, cultural, and technological workplace environments. If any of the three pillars of EX is weak, it can drastically affect how employees are engaged at work. ADP Research Institute’s recent global survey, which covered 19,346 full-time as well as part-time employees across 19 countries, revealed that only 22 percent of the Indian workers seemed to be fully engaged.

In a Deloitte global survey, one in five employees (18%) reported that their companies don’t formally measure employee engagement at all. High employee engagement is the direct result of good, positive employee experience. This also affects a multitude of factors such as productivity, retention, customer experience, etc. Engaged employees look at mobility within the organization rather than shifting elsewhere.

The HR department is, therefore, more likely to change things if they focused on employee experience. Technological advances have made it possible to streamline recruitment, payroll, employee expenses, and performance evaluation. As these processes become smart, smooth, and seamless for employees, the workforce becomes more productive.

Employee engagement tools

Organizations with high employee engagement outperform those with low employee engagement by 202%. Technology today allows monitoring and building company culture through real-time insights into what your employees want and expect. This allows recognizing and rewarding exceptional skill and talent when employees do a good job or exemplify company values.

Trying to understand employee thoughts and feelings can also be accomplished using simple free tools such as surveys and Google Forms. Whether it is deciding on the menu for the next meeting or their thoughts about the newest venture, these tools give help employees give their honest feedback anonymously.

With global offices and an international base of employees, enterprise collaboration and video conferencing tools are necessary. Corporate Social Networking sites such as Yammer, WeVue, and Workplace by Facebook make employee engagement much simpler and easier. Other options for engagement technology include company intranet platforms such as Igloo, Podio, and OneWindow Workplace.

Video tools will be incredibly useful, both for hiring and on-the-job training enabling HR departments to streamline the entire process and make it hassle-free.

Expense and Travel Management Software

Usually, spreadsheets and hard copies of invoices and receipts are used for reimbursement and cross-checking. An expense and travel management software allows the entire process to be streamlined. It ensures that companies gain complete visibility over travel and expense spends, becoming 100% compliant. With actionable analytics into expense spends, opportunities to save money can also be identified.

This enables employees to shift to a paperless system while allowing businesses to track employee spends. The technology used allows syncing all the available data to their accounting systems in use seamlessly. This saves time and effort allowing the software to track the progress of individual applications rather than doing everything through HR personnel.

With provisions for petty cash management, the whole process is simplified helping businesses manage multiple branches from anywhere. With real-time visibility, there is improved employee satisfaction with faster reimbursements. Zaggle Save, a free expense management tool, can reduce employee reimbursement cycle time by two-thirds.

Benefits management

A comprehensive benefits management platform helps in centralizing and managing all employee benefits including paid time off, retirement plans, travel benefits, health insurance, meal benefits, workers' compensation, and other perks.

A benefits management tool allows the establishment of healthy baseline levels. This further helps work upwards from there adding other benefits and perks that go beyond standard dental, health, vision.

Another way to do the same thing is to set up a Professional Employer Organization (PEO). The PEO issues paychecks and manages benefits and compliance, acting as a legal employer of the workforce. This offers scope and access to additional perks, healthcare options, and expertise.

Performance Tracking Solutions

Goals and objectives discussed and fixed at the beginning of the financial year are constantly revisited throughout the year. Performance evaluations are not an annual occurrence but are consistently revisited by the HR department while tracking the progress of the employee. Every individual employee has his or her own KPIs and KRAs that are tracked to assess their overall performance.

To better formulate goals for individual employees, the HR department can equip their managers and team leads with the tools to track their respective staff member's performance throughout the year. This can be more streamlined by having each meeting’s notes and minutes saved to the portal allowing both parties to revisit what was previously discussed. This further helps to prepare both the manager and employee for the evaluation. Many HR solutions available today come with a customizable performance review module.

HRMS (Human Resource Management System)

With an increasing volume and frequency of data generated, the Human Resource department bears the brunt. A simple and centralized method of data management starting from the input, storage, to tracking is necessary. A comprehensive Human Resource Management System (HRMS) is the most common method of organizing the information generated.

An HRMS can be an HR representative's most invaluable tool whether deployed as a  software solution or as software as a service (SaaS). It is capable of storing and categorizing data sets such as employee profiles, schedules, attendance records, and more.

With advances in technology, Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) allow generation of in-depth reports, infographics, and more. Using these reports, it’s easier to manage records, ensure compliance, and improve efficiency. They are usually more data-driven solutions that simplify the processing and purposes of audits.

Most HRMS software out there serve as the primary platform for the HR department with additional modules, features, or integrations that allow access to payroll services, benefits management, and performance evaluations. By streamlining these functions, this software empowers the HR team to focus on improving employee experience for the company.

The Road Ahead

Employee Experience (EX) requires a restructuring with a focus on developing a solution. It’s necessary to connect your EX goals to specific business objectives. Map the entire employee lifecycle at the organization and evaluate the different engagement points. Is it possible to make it easier for employees to access the information they need or to request help from HR?

What is the experience like when employees engage with the HR? How different do you want it to be? What needs to change? Technology can definitely improve the EX by making things simpler and easier to accomplish.