Employees Less Engaged, Despite Tech Solutions

Data People

HR leaders say technology is allowing them to contribute more to their organization’s success, and a full 100 percent of them report using data to support their recommendations. At the same time, however, they’re losing ground when it comes to engaging the workforce.

In its Pulse of HR Survey, a study of 300 American HR decision-makers, PayChex found that employers continue to rely on skills development, feedback and encouraging employee input on work methods and projects as key components of their engagement strategies, just as they had in 2017 and 2018. However just 53 percent said more than half their employees were engaged, down from nearly 66 percent in 2018.

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That drop’s sobering when you consider the number of vendors offering engagement solutions of one sort or another. In addition, 85 percent said tech helps improve the overall employee experience. It may be that dropping engagement is symptomatic of changing workforce characteristics: HR leaders say engagement is their top challenge with remote workers, for example. Many HR professionals say engaging remote workers requires different tactics than engaging those on-premises.  

Everyone Uses Analytics

For the first time since Paychex launched they Survey in 2017, 100 percent of respondents rely on workforce analytics to some degree. Ninety percent said analytics helps them make more informed decisions, while 89 percent use them to defend their conclusions and 89 percent use data to more effectively communicate with the workforce.

Meanwhile, 87 percent said technology has strengthened their contribution to corporate success, up from 75 percent in 2018. Tech has also improved hiring, with 81 percent crediting systems for maintaining or growing headcount and productivity.

Not surprisingly, then, technology spending is at the top of HR’s priority list. Among the 66 percent of HR leaders whose budgets are increasing, most want to invest additional funds into technology. 

Transformation Impacts Engagement

Given all the talk we hear about transformation, it’s no surprise that HR executives see their roles as evolving. Driving that evolution is the tight labor market, changing legislation and technology’s increasing role, the report said. In addition, 90 percent of HR leaders say they have a voice in company strategy and decisions, up from 80 percent in 2018 and 2017. 

And while much attention is given to the potential uses of data, HR professionals give much love to automation, as well. “My single biggest strategic contribution to my company was helping it automate its HR processes,” said one respondent.  

Not surprisingly in today’s economy, attracting talent surpassed compliance as HR’s top concern. More than two-thirds of HR leaders say they’re struggling to find and hire quality employees, up from 59 percent last year. Their biggest challenges: identifying qualified candidates (49 percent), retention (49 percent) and locating candidates who’ll fit their company’s culture (42 percent).

The talent shortage is forcing many employers to hire and train candidates who are a less-than-perfect fit. The survey found that 85 percent of HR leaders are willing to train and upskill underqualified candidates, while 78 percent said their organizations have already done so, to their benefit.

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