How HR Technology Can Unlock Better Benefits

Posted in : HR Updates on 23 July 2014
Stewart Miller
NGA Human Resources
Issues covered:

Stewart Miller writes:

"For some of us, attending a child’s first day of school may be more important than taking off a holiday like President’s Day."

"There are no easy solutions to bolstering benefits packages."

The global recession has left few unscathed, particularly the average employee. Workers of all levels from all over the world have seen their pay shrink in the face of pay freezes, inflation, austerity and simply dismal financial performances by their employers. The reality is few employees are optimistic about their salary prospects heading into 2013.

According to NGA's survey half (45.1%) of global workers fear they have no chance of receiving an above-inflation wage hike. While the American workforce is slightly more optimistic, with only four in 10 predicting stagnant wages, the pessimism is prominent all over. For example, U.K. employees showed the least optimism with 70% not anticipating a pay increase. Meanwhile, employees in the Asia Pacific region were more positive with more than a third (36.5%) expecting an above inflation boost.


When Money Isn’t an Option

Believe it or not, stagnant salaries are challenges for both workers and employers. Employees understand the constraints placed on their companies, as many have helped their companies battle the recession. Similarly, many employers understand the pains their employees are experiencing and look forward to the days of more gainful payment abilities. The survey revealed that employees understand the universal impact of our current economic quagmire as 67 percent of respondents felt that the whole workforce in their organization had their pay affected in some way by the recession. However, this understanding doesn’t exempt employees from wishing for more robust non-monetary benefits when financial rewards aren’t possible.

While money may be what is most needed and desired, there are other ways companies can recognize their employees outside of cash. Yet, according to the survey, many companies are missing this opportunity to reward, compensate and motivate their employees. Sixty-nine percent of global respondents and 73.3 percent of U.S. respondents said their business has not adapted to economic conditions by increasing non-pay related benefits.

Top Choices in Non-monetary Benefits

Non-monetary benefits that increase their work life balance and improve their professional performance and prospects can be extremely impactful in regards to employee loyalty and motivation. For instance, the Pay Optimism Index found the top choices in non-monetary benefits were:

  • The ability to have more flexibility with one’s schedule,
  • Additional training and development opportunities,
  • Additional holidays and
  • The opportunity to work abroad.

In many cases, providing these kinds of benefits to an employee not only improves satisfaction and productivity but also results in a more engaged, better trained and more experienced workforce.

Longer than Expected

Not tapping into the advantages that non-pay benefits can provide an employee presents a grave risk to the productivity and motivation of a company’s talent pool. While a majority (60 percent) of respondents noted that they actively enjoy their jobs, 37 percent have a more pragmatic attitude saying that their motivation for working each day is being able to pay the bills.

Tellingly, more than a quarter of respondents (28.5 percent) said that the recession has caused them to stay in their job longer than they might have liked. These results remind us that depressed wages often lead to a decline in employee motivation and retention – two things companies cannot afford as they wait for the economic strain to ease.

HR Technologies as Tools for Better Benefits

Providing employees with meaningful non-monetary benefits does not have to be a daunting task, and there are numerous ways in which HR technologies can help companies in this effort. The right HR technologies can help align the new non-monetary benefits with the needs of the company and implement them in a way that supports the needs of the business.  Most basically, HR technologies can allow companies to survey the compensation and benefits landscape of their workforce.

For example, employers can use compensation management tools or a fully-integrated talent management suite to compare salary and benefits across their enterprise. By doing so, companies can easily see which employees or offices are in most need of additional benefits, or who should be first in line for a salary increase once possible.

Leveraging HR Tools

HR tools can also be leveraged to implement new benefits. Performance and learning HR tools are one way employers can quickly identify the knowledge gaps and needs of their workforce so they can determine what training is needed and how it should be delivered. Learning technologies allow employees and managers to track progress and provide assessments in real time; this empowers managers to play a role in their employee’s learning and help them identify additional, more targeted trainings and opportunities.  With learning programs accessible 24/7, these tools empower more customized learning, creating a more impactful and personal experience.

According to the survey, having more flexibility in an employee’s work schedule was one of the highest ranking benefit requests. Cloud-based infrastructure, that include collaboration, CRM, HR and talent management tools, are one way employers can give employees a little bit of mobility while also ensuring instant access to the work and HR materials they need.

Cloud-based services allow employers, employees and clients connectivity from anywhere in the world. The online, secured solution encourages sharing so that employee collaboration is not sacrificed for flexibility. As cloud services continue to grow more sophisticated, they will become even more attractive tools for providing added benefits.

Balancing Demand

Companies can also use information from time and attendance HR solutions to bolster their benefits offerings. For example, many employees would jump at an opportunity to take an additional holiday or vacation day. By reviewing attendance and payroll data, employers can gain a historical point of view of their workforce globally and can identify when there are periods of low demand and activity in various offices. Understanding this, employers can offer holidays on low demand days without risking business productivity.

Additionally, employers can use these data to allow employees more flexibility when taking established holidays. For example, attending a child’s first day of school may be more important than taking off a holiday like President’s Day. In scenarios like this, employers and employees benefit from greater workplace flexibility because it gives workforce coverage on days in which the office is normally closed.

Understanding What You Have

As workers seek opportunities to work abroad, talent management tools can also be extremely useful. By leveraging performance and competency tools, companies can match the expertise needs for certain projects with the talents and career progression goals of employees. Instead of having to hire to fill a vacancy in another country, employers can search their career history databases for employees with the necessary experience and determine if an abroad work assignment is an ideal and desired professional next step for the employee. This can not only help companies save money on recruitment efforts, but also proves the company’s investment in the employee’s career.

Lastly, outside of providing avenues through which employers can provide more robust benefits, HR technologies are also instrumental in helping employees understand the value of what they already have. Many times, employees underestimate the full value of the medical, disability insurance and other benefits provided by the company. Through benefits administration technologies, employees can see their total compensation package, which shows the value of their work beyond salary.

The Benefits Balancing Game

The recession has placed immense stress on the purse strings of companies and employees alike. Nonetheless, there is a delicate balance that businesses must master between non-monetary and salary-based compensation if they wish to protect their employees’ motivation and retention in the continuing economic slump. There are no easy solutions to bolstering benefits packages.

But by leveraging the right HR tools, employers can better show their investment in and appreciation for employees in a cost-effective, technology-enabled manner that helps prepare the workforce and organization for future success.

This article is correct at 21/10/2015

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Stewart Miller
NGA Human Resources

The main content of this article was provided by Stewart Miller. Contact telephone number is 028 9046 3213 or email

View all articles by Stewart Miller