How Next-Gen Technology Can Keep HR Data Safe

In 2018, the FBI reported having 350,000 complaints of internet crimes, which is a rise of 23 percent over five years. With an increase in internet crimes, HR departments are turning to security approaches that are powered by artificial intelligence (AI). Read this blog post to learn more about how artificial intelligence is helping companies with cybersecurity.


As hackers grow ever-more inventive and data privacy laws are enacted around the globe, HR leaders are faced with the challenge of protecting and storing sensitive HR data but not curtailing employees' ability to use that data to make timely workforce decisions.

But there may not be enough cybersecurity colleagues to call upon for advice and technical assistance, which compounds those challenges. Approximately 65 percent of companies reported a cybersecurity staff shortage last year, according to the 2019 Cybersecurity Workforce Study conducted by (ISC)2, an international nonprofit association for IT professionals. As a result, more companies are turning to security strategies that don't require human intervention, such as cybersecurity powered by artificial intelligence (AI) that can proactively monitor and neutralize new kinds of cyberthreats.

New Strategies for More-Sophisticated Attacks

Research suggests that concerns over data security are occupying more of HR leaders' time and resources. The 2019-2020 Sierra-Cedar HR Systems Survey found a 17 percent increase from the prior year's survey in the number of respondents deploying cybersecurity strategies, with 70 percent of HR organizations reporting they have and regularly update such a strategy. That's good news, because the FBI reported receiving 350,000 complaints of Internet crimes in 2018, a rise of 23 percent over five years. Those crimes caused an estimated $2.7 billion in financial losses.

Security experts say the loss of sensitive data like payroll information, Social Security numbers and notes from internal investigations or employee assessments has implications far beyond the HR department.

"When HR systems are breached, it goes beyond the personal data stolen, because HR is central to so many processes across the organization," said Corey Williams, vice president of marketing and strategy at Idaptive, a cybersecurity firm in Santa Clara, Calif. "HR systems are the starting point for much of the access employees have throughout the organization. HR data doesn't sit on an island like other data, and when you have vulnerabilities at the HR level, you're exposing the entire enterprise to wider attacks."

AI-powered security tools represent a new approach to combating threats to HR data. While not a cure-all, these technologies can protect against malicious attacks driven by automated malware and have capabilities, such as pattern recognition, that can identify suspicious behavior and block potential problems or threatening online traffic in real time.

To protect against insider threats, whether malicious or from workers not following sound security practices, some AI-based cybersecurity tools can be trained to learn employees' behaviors when using corporate networks. Research shows that such threats are a growing problem. Insiders caused 48 percent of reported data breaches in organizations in 2019, according to a recent benchmark study from Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research, up from 26 percent of total data breaches in 2015.

More companies are adopting "zero trust" policies that feature a "never trust, always verify" approach to network access or identity authentication and employ tools like multifactor authentication (MFA). MFA is a way to confirm user identities through at least two different factors. In the last year, according to the Sierra-Cedar survey, large organizations increased their use of MFA by 20 percent, and approximately 55 percent of small organizations reported using MFA for HR applications.

Williams said stolen or weak user credentials is still the top cause of data breaches in organizations. "We've seen growing sophistication in the way passwords and credentials get stolen," Williams said. "That includes malware, hackers writing more convincing phishing e-mails that get employees to click on harmful links and other approaches. Companies have found that depending on passwords alone for access is becoming untenable."

Balancing Security with the User Experience

HR leaders have to strike a balance between taking the right data-security measures and ensuring employees can still use HR networks and software in efficient and user-friendly ways—a balance that ideally won't make the workforce feel excessively monitored or handcuffed when using technology.

"Security is often viewed as a teeter-totter, where you are either increasing data security or you are improving the user experience with technology," Williams said. "But it doesn't have to be an either-or scenario."

For example, employees who typically access the same corporate networks or applications in the same fashion likely don't need additional security oversight, but someone accessing that same system from a country he's never been to before and with a different device would need more controls.

"We're seeing more innovation in applying security tools to separate high-risk from low-risk system access," Williams said.

HR leaders also can help enhance security by encouraging their companies to re-evaluate user access policies, experts say. "As people work for a long time in companies, they tend to accumulate access to systems, and that access doesn't necessarily get taken away as they move up or around a company," Williams said. "Employees are often 'over-provisioned' in terms of their access to sensitive data in systems, which can create increased vulnerability for companies." Automated processes tied to the life cycle management of employees can ensure system access is changed or removed as people change roles in a company, he said.

James Graham-Cumming, chief technology officer for Cloudflare, a cybersecurity company in San Francisco, said being more judicious in granting data access is a wise but sometimes overlooked security strategy. "It's not uncommon for CEOs or other senior leaders in a company to have access to all or most corporate systems because they simply feel a need for that access," Graham-Cumming said. "Yet these are more-visible or even public figures who are often targets for hacking. The reality is your C-suite or vice presidents may not need access to all of your systems."

Managing Vendor Risk

Data security and privacy threats can grow as HR functions add more technology platforms to their ecosystems and create more integrations with third-party providers. A recent study by research and advisory firm Gartner found that because human capital management systems are built to integrate with many third-party services—such as LinkedIn, for example—those integrations can expose organizations to risk through "misconfigurations" that result in unintentional data leakage. Depending on the level of integration, problems with security in vendor systems can open the door for attackers, the Gartner study found, as was the case with the retailer Target in 2014.

Security experts say HR leaders should ensure vendors have best-practice data security and privacy protocols in place, such as MFA, in addition to passing an external Service Organization Control, or SOC, 2 audit, which confirms they're in compliance with recommended practices for data security, processing integrity, ensuring privacy and more.

Jared Lucas, chief people officer with the cybersecurity firm MobileIron in San Francisco, said security-related employee training also is more important than ever as malware grows more sophisticated, phishing attacks increase and bad actors use AI-powered methods to hack corporate systems.

"Effective, regularly updated training in what to look for and what to be wary of can close a lot of holes in a company's data security strategy," Lucas said.

SOURCE: Zielinski, D. (10 February 2020) "How Next-Gen Technology Can Keep HR Data Safe" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/technology/pages/next-gen-technology-can-keep-hr-data-safe.aspx


Organizations Will Need Data Analytics to Survive

Did you know: the use of data analytics can improve a company's overall performance. Data analytics can differentiate those companies that are going to be disrupted. Implementing technology is simple, but it is HR's responsibility for managing the technological change. Read this blog post to learn more about why data analytics is becoming a need for organizations.


SEATTLE—HR professionals play a critical role in getting their organizations to use data and analytics strategically to compete more effectively.

Jack Phillips, CEO and co-founder of the Portland, Ore.-based International Institute for Analytics, a research and benchmarking services firm for the analytics industry, urged attendees at the Society for Human Resource Management People Analytics conference on Jan. 14 to get focused on data.

"It's proven that the use of data analytics improves overall company performance," he said. "Organizations invest in many things, but budget dedicated to data and analytics is limited. It needs to be a top priority. The broad use of data and analytics will differentiate the companies  [from those] that eventually are disrupted and disappear from the survivors."

And HR is key to the success of winning with data, from sourcing the necessary talent and applying analytics to HR functions to leading change management when adopting a data-driven mindset across the organization.

Implementing the technology is the easy part, Phillips said. Getting your workforce to truly adopt data analytics across the organization is harder. Ultimately HR is responsible for managing that transformational change.

Data Analytics Overview

The data analytics market is in full growth mode, accelerated by the explosion of cloud computing. The technology environment is moving so quickly that it is very hard to keep track of the increasing array and complexity of analytics technology available, Phillips said. But the top-performing companies are investing heavily in data analytics.

"If you are not paying attention through expenditure and [acquisition of] talent you will be behind," he said.

Phillips outlined a maturity model showing the sophistication levels of an organization's approach to analytics. Employers aiming to improve their data analytics function first need to assess where they currently are. Phillips' model includes those at the bottom stages who don't use any data to make business decisions and companies where data analytics may exist in silos without a structure for collaborating across business units.

Most employers likely exist in one of these stages, while many enterprise-level organizations are in the higher aspirational stages where the value of analytics is expressed, or they are data-oriented and use analytics with some internal coordination.

"Only one company we've studied [Amazon] has achieved near perfection as a data-driven company," Phillips said. "You don't come to a meeting without data [at Amazon]. No gut-based decision-making is allowed. Everything is driven by data."

Succeeding with Data

According to Phillips, the key ingredients needed to achieve higher levels of maturity as a data-driven organization include:

  • People with data analytics skills.
  • Organizational structure, processes and technologies in place for those people.
  • Use of the data. "The highest performing companies have superior capabilities on the supply side and business leaders who use the insights that the data analytics teams are providing to drive the business forward," he said.
    Another model he presented breaks down the elements that must be in alignment for companies to succeed with their analytics initiatives. "Without alignment, organizations run the risk of poor or limited results," he said. "To make real progress and become a data-driven organization, the capabilities and assets of these five elements must evolve and mature." The five elements are:

Data. It may seem obvious, but to provide meaningful analytics, data must be high quality, organized, reliable, integrated, and accessible. The raw material must be right.

Coordination. Companies must advocate a single and consistent perspective for analytics across the organization.

Leadership. Senior leadership should fully embrace analytics and lead company culture toward data-driven decision-making.

Targets. The organization should prioritize business targets against which it will apply its analytics. "Data and analytics without a targeted reason for it is worthless," he said.

Talent. Organizations require analytical talent that covers a range of skills from accomplished data scientists to rank-and-file employees who embrace being more analytical in how they do their job.

Employers must also understand rapidly emerging analytical techniques and technologies, Phillips said. The widespread adoption of open source tools has resulted in an explosion of analytical methods and techniques, and with the advent of big data, machine learning and cloud computing, creating an effective technology strategy for analytics is a critical ingredient for success.

HR's Role

Human resource professionals play an important part in getting their organizations up to speed and competitive with analytics, including sourcing the right qualified talent—a difficult task in a labor market lacking the requisite skills—and investing in data analytics for its own functions.

"HR lags behind other business functions when it comes to using data analytics," Phillips said. "Sales, marketing and finance tend to outpace other parts of the business."

HR should be assertive with leadership when advising on budget and staffing for data analytics positions and in creating and managing a workplace culture that values innovation.

"The top performing companies treat their data analytics function as a product, with design thinking and intentional product management," Phillips said.

One positive for employers who may be overwhelmed by implementing a data analytics function is that best practices are easily transferable. "There are many things that you can just copy," he said.

SOURCE: Maurer, R. (15 January 2020) "Organizations Will Need Data Analytics to Survive" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/technology/pages/organizations-will-need-data-analytics-to-survive.aspx


Implementing AI Technology for HR

Artificial intelligence (AI) has taken the tasks of collecting, copying, entering and checking data off of HR professional's hands. With advancements in technology, AI has become a way to open a variety of opportunities to influence a company's workflow. Read this blog post to learn about artificial intelligence and how it's developing HR managers and leaders.


When HR managers embark on implementing artificial intelligence (AI) into their company's workflow, they'll be grappling with a disruptive technology that changes the way people from HR leaders to recruiters to front-line employees work.

That may be why PwC's latest Human Resource Technology Survey of 599 HR and information technology (IT) leaders worldwide shows that those leaders are cautious about leveraging the technology to drive HR functions.

In fact, 63 percent of those surveyed have not yet implemented artificial intelligence for HR, and many cite various reasons that influenced their decision not to do so, including:

•Cost of implementation.
•Complexity of integration into the existing IT infrastructure.
•Lack of skilled staff.
•Lack of compelling use cases that can be tied to business outcomes.

But while they are hesitant to jump into using AI, 42 percent of respondents said they plan to implement AI for HR over the next one to three years. The technology opens significant possibilities.

"Human resource executives want their teams to focus on meaningful tasks, such as interpreting data, decision-making, storytelling and strategies that enrich the worker experience, which is what AI solutions can offer. Without AI, HR professionals are relegated to collecting, copying, entering, re-entering and checking data," said Mike Brennan, president of Leapgen, a Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based HR consulting firm.

HR leaders will have to find the right tools, team with the right partners, and find the best opportunities to apply AI to HR functions without causing employee anxiety.

Schneider Electric's Story

Andrew Saidy, vice president of talent digitization, talent acquisition and mobility at Schneider Electric, a multinational company based in Paris, oversaw the implementation of an AI-driven platform that revolutionized the talent mobility and career development processes at his company.

Three important factors pushed Schneider Electric, which employs approximately 144,000 employees across 100 countries, to make the change. First, more than half of Schneider's employees are Millennials, a generational group whose members change jobs more frequently than workers in other age groups. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average job tenure of Millennials is 2.8 years.

Second, 47 percent of Schneider employees surveyed in exit interviews said they were leaving because they couldn't find their next opportunity within the organization.

Third, the process of matching employees to job opportunities within the company was laborious, cumbersome and lengthy.

"Recruiters were spending weeks waiting for responses, making phone calls, sifting through CVs and selecting which candidates would be chosen for interviews," Saidy said.

With a clearly defined use case for its AI strategy, the company chose to develop a cloud-based, AI-driven talent market. The HR team had to decide whether to build or buy a solution.

"This is an idea we toyed with at the start because we are a technology company, we are a digital company, and we are leaders in digital energy management," Saidy said. "We have a strong team of enterprise IT developers, and we could have had the ability to build a talent platform internally as opposed to buying something outside of the market."

What surprised Schneider's HR team was that there are many vendors offering AI solutions for HR tasks, but having so many AI solution providers to choose from presents other issues.

"You have to be careful when you select a company for your AI project," he said. The vendors "need to be financially stable" and need to have "a clear product road map and customers with proven success. You can't just go for whoever is claiming to provide a solution."

After a three-month search, which included testing vendors' algorithms, Schneider's HR and digital teams decided to buy an internal talent product from Gloat, an Israeli technology company. The platform, called Open Talent Market, leverages AI to match employee resumes with open positions, including long-term jobs and short-term projects.

Part of the software evaluation involved letting employees register on the site and upload their education and experience to get a sense of whether they thought the tool was intuitive, easy to use and engaging. Schneider used a Net Promoter Score to assess employees' experience and enthusiasm for the tool.

The company monitored the number of employee registrations, short-term and long-term jobs that appeared on the site, and successful matches of qualified employees to job posts.

Schneider's HR team also tested the algorithm's ability to adequately address bias and evaluated its security features. Schneider chose software that doesn't require candidates to enter information related to gender or race, or place or date of birth.

Keeping in mind the difficulties Amazon experienced when it built an AI-driven recruiting system that perpetuated gender bias, Schneider is mindful that many of its jobs such as engineer, field technician or electrical engineer have typically been filled by male candidates, Saidy said.

Schneider's technical team also carefully considered the software's security capabilities, measures to protect from data breaches and secure integrations. This was particularly important when considering that Open Talent Market is connected to the company's applicant tracking system, learning management system and human resource information system, as well as LinkedIn.

Recruiter Adjustment

Since its launch in September 2018, Open Talent Market has put Schneider's managers in the driver's seat and has changed the role of some of the company's 200 recruiters—an adjustment that hasn't always been smooth, Saidy said.

"Initially, some recruiters had reservations on the Open Talent Market because of the way it changed their jobs [by giving more control to hiring managers] and took away from recruiters the tasks of sourcing and shortlisting internal candidates, now done by the platform."

Making sure recruiters continue to be motivated, engaged and enthusiastic about their job as their tasks change was a key consideration, Saidy said.

"To address this, we focused on why we put the Open Talent Market in place, what is in it for the recruiters, and how they reinvest their time consulting and supporting managers as well as employees' internal mobility. Keeping the lines of communication open with the teams is an especially important pillar of a successful change adoption."

SOURCE: Lewis, N. (09 January 2020) "Implementing AI Technology for HR" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/hr-topics/technology/Pages/Implementing-AI-Technology-HR.aspxA


10 Quick Tips for Avoiding Distractions at Work

The number of notifications that the average employee gets interrupted by each day is between 50 and 60. With more than half of the interruptions being unimportant, these distractions are reducing the productivity rate of their work. Read this blog for tips on how to avoid distractions at work.


In a world of push notifications, email, instant messaging, and shrinking office space, we’re becoming increasingly distracted at work. The average employee is getting interrupted 50 to 60 times per day, and about 80% of these interruptions are unimportant. As a result, people are spending little time in what psychologists call “the flow state,” a space where people are up to five times more productive, according to research from McKinsey.

The constant distractions are not only leaving people less productive, but also more stressed than ever, with a lack of control over one’s work being cited as a major contributor to workplace stress, according to the American Institute of Stress. So, how do we avoid distractions in the office in order to take control of our days, do our best work, and improve our emotional well-being?

1. Practice Asynchronous Communication

When you get an email, it’s actually OK to think: “I’ll get to this when it suits me.”

Aside from the benefit of giving people more time for uninterrupted focus, asynchronous communication predisposes people to better decision-making by increasing the amount of time we have to respond to a request. When you’re on a phone call or video chat, you’re making real-time decisions, whereas if you’re communicating via email, you have more time to think about your response.

In order to practice this successfully, we must do away with the arbitrary “urgency” that still plagues workplaces the world over, almost a century after Dwight D. Eisenhower, who, quoting Dr. J. Roscoe Miller, president of Northwestern University, said: “I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.” This “Eisenhower Principle” is said to be how the former president prioritized his own workload.

To optimize an asynchronous message and to avoid a lot of follow-up emails, include the following in your initial request:

  • Sufficient details
  • Clear action item(s)
  • A due date
  • A path of recourse if the recipient is unable to meet your requirements

2. Batch Check Everything

“Just quickly checking” anything, even for one-tenth of a second, can add up to a 40% productivity loss over the course of a day, and it can take us 23 minutes to get back into the zone after task switching.

Rather than sporadically checking things throughout the day, we should batch check email, instant messages, social media, and even text messages, at predetermined times.

If you struggle with self-control, tools like Gmail’s Inbox Pause plugin enable you to pause your inbox once you’ve checked it and only unpause it when you’re ready. Blocksite and the Freedom app also allow you to block access to specific websites and apps during specified intervals.

3. Do Not Disturb

If you’re reading this and thinking: “But I work in an open-plan office, and it’s impossible to avoid interruptions,” try using a signaling mechanism to let your team know that you’re in the zone (or trying to get there) and that they shouldn’t disturb you unless it’s legitimately urgent. This could be as simple as a pair of headphones.

4. Avoid Calendar Tetris

In today’s workplace, it’s a widely accepted norm that others can book time in your calendar, usually at the expense of your own priorities.

Basecamp CEO, Jason Fried, told me on an episode of the Future Squared podcast that at Basecamp, you can’t book time in someone’s calendar without first getting buy-in. This means that most meetings just don’t happen because the would-be meeting organizer usually opts for a phone call or an instant message instead.

Alternatively, consider blocking out meeting-free zones on your calendar, or using a meeting scheduling tool such as Calendly so that people book meetings with you only during scheduled windows, leaving the rest of the day free for focus, and ensuring that you avoid the email tennis matches that scheduling meetings often degenerates into.

5. Close the Loop on Meetings

Instead of risking follow-up interruptions and a meeting to discuss the previous meeting, ensure that you leave each meeting with actionable next steps, clearly assigned responsibilities, and due dates.

6. Stop Using “Reply All”

Reply All, used as a mechanism to share accountability, only adds unnecessary chatter to people’s inboxes and headspace. Take more ownership over your decisions and only email people who need to be informed.

7. Use Third Spaces

As Sue Shellenbarger wrote for The Wall Street Journal, “All of this social engineering (open-plan offices) has created endless distractions that draw employees’ eyes away from their own screens. Visual noise, the activity or movement around the edges of an employee’s field of vision, can erode concentration and disrupt analytical thinking or creativity.”

If you’re struggling with open-plan offices, then try to incorporate more third-space work into your day for critical thinking; try to find a quiet space in the office, a serviced office, or negotiate some time to work from home.

8. Turn off Push Notifications

The average executive receives 46 push notifications per day. To avoid our Pavlovian impulses to respond on cue, simply turn off your push notifications. Find out how here.

9. Use Airplane Mode

You can also use airplane mode to limit text message and phone call interruptions during certain times of day. If the idea of doing this gives you anxiety, you can always exempt specific numbers, such as those of loved ones or valued and important business associates. You can set “Do Not Disturb” mode on an iPhone to allow your designated “favorite” contacts to get through, while silencing other calls or messages.

10. Limit Layers of Approval

While harder to implement, becoming a “minimum viable bureaucracy” — stripping away unnecessary layers of approvals required to get trivial and not-so-consequential things done — means that there will be less paperwork to move around, which means fewer interruptions for people.

Awareness Is Key

Environmental changes aside, human beings evolved to conserve energy in order to stand a shot at surviving on the savannah. As such, we are predisposed to picking the lowest hanging fruit or doing the easiest thing first — think checking email instead of working on that presentation. Becoming more aware of our tendencies to pick the low hanging fruit, getting distracted by low-value activities, is step one towards changing our behaviors.

Organizations that build a culture around minimizing distractions will enjoy the compounding benefit of a focused workforce and will leave their people feeling less stressed and ultimately more fulfilled.

SOURCE: Glaveski, S. (18 December 2019) "10 Quick Tips for Avoiding Distractions at Work" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2019/12/10-quick-tips-for-avoiding-distractions-at-work?ab=hero-subleft-2"


Reality check: The learning pro's primer on AR, VR tech

Virtual reality (VR) has created an opportunity to live in a realistic moment while also in a safe and controlled environment. Employers are now using this tool to train employees in a fun and authentic way. Read this blog post to learn how and what virtual reality is doing for employees.


Virtual reality and related technologies are gaining momentum in the employee learning field. Trainers love these tools for their ability to create an authentic learning experience in a safe, controlled environment and employees say they're on board, too.

But what exactly are these technologies? What do they do and how can you make use of them in your workplace? For many, understanding the tech is the first step toward implementation.

Alphabet soup

All together, these tools fall under the umbrella of XR — extended reality — according to Jack Makhlouf, Talespin's VP of sales and licensing, enterprise learning.

Within XR is VR and AR, virtual reality and augmented reality. To add to the confusion, AR is sometimes called MR, or mixed reality, Makhlouf told HR Dive in an email. Essentially, VR is a simulated experience that transports the user to a virtual environment that can be similar to or completely different from a real-world scenario. AR is an interactive experience where the objects that reside in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated information.

IRL application

VR and AR have many real-world applications, according to Ravin Jesuthasan, managing director, talent management at Willis Towers Watson. "VR and AR have gotten increasingly popular for training people on scenarios that don't occur often (e.g., a store manager being taught how to deal with an armed customer) and for training people on things that require significant practice (operating a complex piece of machinery)," he told HR Dive via email.

As a result, they're fast becoming a safety training must-have, especially for distributed workforces. These tools can be used to familiarize workers with a risky procedure or process before they attempt it in real life, Concept3D's CEO Gordon Boyes wrote to HR Dive. For location training, staff can learn safety procedures or the locations of exits, eyewash stations or fire extinguishers. "We use AR or mixed reality for remote locations," Boyes said, "and can overlay relevant data or information in its correct location without having someone needing to go to the remote site."

VR training scenarios also are particularly useful for practicing workplace conversations, Makhlouf noted. Workers can test run negotiations or customer interactions. "People generally don't get enough real-time practice engaging in difficult conversations so it takes much longer to build competency," he said; these tools can allow trainees to practice scenarios where soft skills are critical before being thrown into real-life situations.

Moreover, trainees are free to fail, get feedback, retry and improve with little judgment or consequence, Makhlouf said: "They are free to stretch their skills and gain a higher level of learning — that is the real power of this technology."

The ROI

While costly, Jesuthasan said, VR and AR have major benefits. For one, the speed of training on highly complex topics is unprecedented.

Additionally, the tech boosts knowledge retention because people are visual learners, Boyes said. "An employee's ability to learn and retain information is greatly enhanced with the addition of immersive media." The self-directed nature of the training can result in a cost savings, too, Boyes added.

XR training programs tend to be scalable as well, Makhlouf said, which can make it more cost-efficient. But ultimately, employees seem to like them, and that's perhaps the best return on investment an employer could hope for. After all, if you can't get employees to complete training, there's no ROI at all. "[W]e believe training should effective, cost-efficient, and measurable," Markhlouf said, "but most of all, fun.”

SOURCE: O'Donnell, R. (17 December 2019) "Reality check: The learning pro's primer on AR, VR tech" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.hrdive.com/news/reality-check-the-learning-pros-primer-on-ar-vr-tech/568730/

 


Tech tools underused for workplace engagement: survey

Did you know: Only 45 percent of employers use technology to improve employee engagement, according to a survey of HR professionals. Read the following blog post to learn more about using technology to enhance workplace engagement.


Just 45% of employers are using technology to improve employee engagement, according to a new survey of thousands of HR professionals in organizations of varying sizes.

The research finding comes from the Next Concept Human Resource Association (NCHRA) and Waggl, a real-time engagement platform. HR tech industry professionals weighed in on the topic at the HR TechXpo 2019 and others as part of the latest “Voice of the Workplace” pulse survey.

Of those respondents, 92% said they would like to create a strong internal culture that affects results. In addition, 81% believed that investing in people-focused programs and skills such as onboarding, performance and employee engagement would help increase revenues and profit margins.

Lisa Hickey, VP of professional development at NCHRA, was “a bit surprised” that only 45% of her group’s members reported that their organizations are using technology to improve employee engagement in the face of business volatility and a tight labor market.

NCHRA and Waggl, both based in the San Francisco Bay Area, also distilled into a ranked list crowdsourced responses to a survey question about social media and gamification platforms as tools to increase employee engagement.

Several caveats were expressed. One HR leader, for example, cautioned that they need to be tied to the type of company and demographics, as well as the extent to which employees are willing to embrace change. Another respondent said it’s important that gamification not be “viewed as a nuisance and a distraction from accomplishing job tasks.”

The bottom line is that giving employees an opportunity to help shape their organization’s culture, experience, vision and execution enables them to “feel more connected to the workplace and empowered to drive change,” according to Alex Kinnebrew, chief marketing officer and head of growth strategy for Waggl.

Benefit brokers and advisers can play a critical role in helping their employer clients bridge the technology gap when it comes to improving employee engagement, Hickey believes. “From designing an offering that represents company goals to securing the best technology to administer the program, brokers are guiding you every step of the way and also helping utilize technology beyond benefits administration that delivers more services and solutions for the company,” she says.

Founded in 1960, NCHRA is the nation’s second-largest HR association — serving more than 30,000 professionals in 23 states and several countries and showcasing more than 100 annual educational events.

Waggl’s Employee Voice platform examines critical business topics that include culture, experience, vision and execution. The company’s management team includes executives from Glassdoor, SuccessFactors and Coupa. Customers include Paychex, eBay, City Electric Supply, UCHealth, American Public Media and Freddie Mac.

SOURCE: Shutan, B. (4 December 2019) "Tech tools underused for workplace engagement: survey" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/news/tech-tools-underused-for-workplace-engagement-survey


Getting digital transformation in healthcare on the fast track

Outdated protocols, overextended workforces and hundreds of wasted hours in administrative tasks are just a few of the opportunities for a digital overhaul in the healthcare industry. There are tremendous opportunities for digital transformation in the healthcare industry. Read this blog post to learn more.


At first glance, the healthcare field seems to be a goldmine for digital innovation. An overextended workforce, outdated protocols, hundreds of wasted hours in administrative tasks, a patient population that is wide open to digital solutions, a multitude of inefficiencies and redundancies — the opportunities for digital overhaul in healthcare are myriad.

Yet every year the graveyard of digital health tools gets more crowded as innovators fail to overcome healthcare’s uniquely complex barriers to their adoption.

Goldmine and graveyard, the tremendous opportunities for digital transformation in healthcare and the seemingly insurmountable barriers to its adoption are two sides of a coin. They spring from the same root causes: the lack of financial incentives to implement digital solutions; the high stakes that necessitate a cautious approach; and most significantly, providers’ seeming unwillingness to abandon proven workflows or sunk costs to take a chance on a disruptive solution.

This last cause is often the greatest barrier to getting innovation through the door.

Clinicians are the primary end-users of digital health, and a clinical champion can make all the difference in whether a solution is adopted. But in the face of the physician shortage in the United States, doctors don’t have time to trade out their proven workflows to take a risk on a solution that may or may not be successful, and will almost certainly take time to learn and implement into their practice. The majority of providers are already at capacity — 80% have no time to see more patients or take on more duties. Thus what seems like an unwillingness to change is often an inability to find the time to change.

Many physicians agree that digital tools and solutions are worthwhile in theory, but with an average workload of 40-60 hours a week, they don’t have the space in their schedules to evaluate these solutions. As it is, the amount of patients that a physician sees in a day (the most rewarding part of their jobs, according to 80% of doctors) has been reduced in recent years to make time for the mountains of non-clinical paperwork and administrative duties that they are responsible for.

Because of their packed schedules, physicians often default to the status quo for sanity’s sake: 40% of physicians see up to 20 patients per day, with another 40% seeing more (anywhere from 21 to over 70); and all spend almost a quarter of their day on administrative duties like inputting data into EMRs. If physicians do have a chance to sit down with innovators, it’s in the margins of their day — instead of an exciting opportunity for change, a pitch-meeting with an innovator represents another 15 minutes they have to take from their family at the end of a long day, an extra 10 minutes of sleep lost in the morning to get into the office early, the interruption of the small respite of a lunch break.

It’s no surprise that in a 2018 survey conducted by the Physician’s Foundation, 89% of physicians polled felt that they had somewhat to very little influence on changes in healthcare — they have no time to research chances to optimize their practice, and thus essentially no voice in its improvement. Yet only a physician has the kind of intimate knowledge of his or her needs and workflow that can drive effective innovations. Perhaps digital innovations have failed to take hold because the people making decisions around tools to help doctors are not doctors.

If we are going to break the barriers to digital transformation in healthcare, we need to expect physicians to think critically about how their job needs to evolve. And no one can do this without time to reflect on and evaluate the status quo. In the corporate world, executives and other employees are encouraged to do research, to take time in their schedules for professional development. Many tech giants — most famously Google, but also Facebook, Linkedin, Apple, and others — employ the 20% time model, where roughly one-fifth of an employee’s schedule is focused on personal side projects (those side projects have turned into Gmail, Google Maps, Twitter, Slack, and Groupon, to name a few). This is the model that we need to embrace in the healthcare system.

We need to look past the excuse that “doctors are traditionally conservative” and that is why innovation is dead in the water. While that narrative may have explained why cutting edge technology is not more readily adopted by physicians, there are other problems that it doesn’t account for — like why rates of compliance for new protocols and best practices are abysmally low. Those symptoms should point us to a different solution, a solution we can do something about. Not “doctors need to get with the times” but doctors need to get some time.

One solution is to advocate for a higher price per consultation that can eliminate the existential need to pack daily schedules with patient appointments. Under the current model, doctors are incentivized to take as many appointments as possible, double — even triple — booking slots to squeeze as much productivity out of current rates of reimbursement. But with increased reimbursement per consultation, physicians can more easily cover the cost of their salaries for their employers, which can then allow providers to take more time out of the clinic and in the office, thinking critically about their roles and how to improve their delivery of care.

Of course, this begs the question — who pays? The ones who stand to benefit most, of course. Giving physicians more time to develop professionally and research solutions is in the best interest of those who take on the burden of health costs, health insurance providers and the government (ie, taxpayers). Patient outcomes are almost guaranteed to improve when physicians have the time to stay up to date on best practices, and this directly reduces the burden of cost on those stakeholders.

Physician salaries represent a very small part of healthcare costs, paling in comparison to drugs and diagnostic care. If more money was paid to the physician on the front end to develop and implement more preventative solutions — by payers or government subsidies — the cost savings would increase exponentially, making an increase in physician salary an astute business move as well as one that can have a dramatic impact on patients’ lives.

SOURCE: Pablo Segura, J. (11 October 2019) "Getting digital transformation in healthcare on the fast track" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/getting-digital-transformation-in-healthcare-on-the-fast-track


Employers look to virtual services to curb rising health costs

Employers are looking for ways to stem the rising costs of healthcare and find ways to better engage employees. According to the National Business Group on Health, 64 percent of employers believe virtual care will play a significant role in healthcare delivery. Read this blog post to learn more about virtual services.


WASHINGTON — With the continued cost of healthcare benefits expected to increase by another 5%, topping $15,000 per employee, employers are looking for ways to stem the increase and better engage employees in holistic well-being.

One of those ways is through virtual care. The number of employers who believe virtual care will play a significant role in how healthcare is delivered in the future continues to grow, up to 64% going into 2020 from 52% in 2019, according to the National Business Group on Health’s annual healthcare strategy survey.

“Virtual care solutions bring healthcare to the consumer rather than the consumer to healthcare,” Brian Marcotte, president and CEO of NBGH said at a press briefing Tuesday. “They continue to gain momentum as employers seek different ways to deliver cost-effective, quality healthcare while improving access and the consumer experience. Of particular note is the growing interest among employers to offer virtual care for mental health as well as musculoskeletal conditions.”

The majority of respondents (51%) will offer more virtual care programs next year, according to the survey. Nearly all employers will offer telehealth for minor, acute services while 82% will offer virtual mental health services — a figure that’s expected to grow to 95% by 2022.

Virtual care for musculoskeletal management shows the greatest potential for growth, the study noted. While 23% of employers will offer musculoskeletal management virtual services next year, another 38% are considering it by 2022. Physical therapy is the best way to address musculoskeletal conditions and help avoid surgery, but it can be inconvenient and costly, said Ellen Kelsay, chief strategy officer at NBGH.

“Where we’ve seen a lot of development in areas of virtual solutions is to provide remote physical therapy treatments,” she said. “Employees can access treatment through their virtual app wherever it’s convenient for them.”

Regardless, employee utilization of virtual services still remains low. For example, while roughly 70% of large companies provide telemedicine coverage, only 3% of employees use it, according to prior NBGH data.

But many resources are out of sight and out of mind, Kelsay said. However, employers are focusing on offering high-touch concierge services to help workers better navigate the healthcare system.

Employers are reaching a point of saturation with the number of solutions that are available, but from the employee’s perspective, they just don’t know where to start, she added. “These concierge and navigator services really help point employees in the direction to the solution at the point in time they need it.”

In addition, the use of predictive analytics and claims data is also an opportunity to help employers get the right programs in front of employees in the moment, Marcotte added.

“Some of these engagement platforms are getting at personal messaging and predictive analytics. It’s not where we want it to be yet, but as that continues to get better, I think you’ll see utilization go up,” he said.

Source: Otto, N. (13 August 2019) "Employers look to virtual Services to curb rising health costs" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/news/employers-look-to-virtual-services-to-curb-rising-healthcare-costs

7 HR technologies for managing the employee lifecycle

Employees are the foundation of any company, that's no secret, which is why many organizations consider their workforce its most valuable resource. That being said, often the best results come when great workforces are provided with great technology. Read this blog post for seven HR technologies that help manage the employee lifecycle.


It’s no secret employees are the foundation of any company: Without them, products can’t be made, services can’t be provided and customers can’t be satisfied.

That’s why an organization’s workforce is often considered its most valuable resource — because while great people can overcome a lack of process or technology, it’s much harder to forego having great people in place. Still, the best results come when great people are provided great technology and supported by great processes.

But the constant flow of employees in and out of an organization can make effectively and efficiently managing the support needed at each stage of the employee lifecycle a difficult task for employers and human resources teams. Luckily, these HR technologies can help with managing the employee lifecycle.

Applicant tracking system

An applicant tracking system is an online platform that simplifies and streamlines the entire recruitment process — from sourcing to selection — by allowing recruiters and hiring managers to seamlessly direct every stage of the process all from one electronic system, eliminating the never-ending paper chase of traditional recruiting. Every ATS is different, but most will include access to an online resume database, automated hiring workflows, communication capabilities and reporting tools.

Onboarding

Half of all new workers leave their jobs within the first 90 days of employment. Organizations with successful onboarding programs, however, have significantly better new hire retention rates.

A big component of a successful onboarding program is removing the hassle of all that tedious paperwork employees have to complete. The first day on the job is already stressful enough for a new hire without the added inconvenience of required employment paperwork. Investing in an online employee onboarding technology platform allows employees to complete the majority of this paperwork (like W-4s, direct deposit authorizations, I-9 forms and other consent forms) well before their first day. Electronic employee onboarding programs also reduce paper costs while minimizing the possibility of errors by providing new hires online access to all necessary employment forms so they can easily review, complete, sign and submit their forms within minutes.

Benefits enrollment

Switching from a paper-based benefits enrollment process to an online enrollment process comes with a wide array of advantages. Not only does an online benefits enrollment process save time, but it also gives employees the time and independence to make their own elections, and helps reduce costly mistakes and errors.

Time and attendance

Online time and attendance platforms not only reduce errors and help managers keep track of days of requests, they also are vastly more efficient for employees to use than paper-based timekeeping systems. (Along with some other really great advantages.)

Payroll processing

Payroll is one of the biggest line items in an organization’s budget. Processing payroll also can be one of the most time-consuming aspects of an organization’s HR functions, and when it’s not done right it can also be the source of some serious employee complaints.

Payroll technology platforms help minimize the potential for errors, and can greatly reduce the time it takes to process a payroll.

eLearning/learning management systems

With the “skills gap” widening as older employees exit the workforce faster than new employees can fill their shoes, employee development initiatives and corporate training programs have become a priority not only amongst large employers, but small and mid-size businesses as well.

Online learning management systems provide employers with convenient options to help train and develop their workforce’s skills and abilities.

Performance management

As with many employee management functions, employers are now taking advantage of online HR technology platforms that allow them to more efficiently streamline the performance management process. In many cases, an online performance management tool allows employers to more effectively evaluate and record employee performance, as well as providing a place for managers and employees alike to keep track of organizational and personal performance goals, record journal entries and maintain an ongoing performance record. These platforms tend to be more popular among larger organizations, mostly because small and medium-sized businesses often feel the price is prohibitive unless they can access discounted rates through an HR outsourcing provider.

SOURCE: Grijalva, A. (5 June 2019) "7 HR technologies for managing the employee lifecycle" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/list/hr-technology-for-managing-the-employee-lifecycle


The HR tech disconnect: Are there too many digital tools?

According to a new survey of more than 500 HR employees, 87 percent of HR professionals reported that having tools that integrate with existing technology is key. Continue reading this blog post from Employee Benefit Advisor to learn more.


Investing in new technology that combines with current systems looks to be a priority for HR departments.

That’s according to a new survey of more than 500 HR employees from Reward Gateway, which found that 87% of HR professionals say having tools that integrate into their existing technology is key.

That priority is likely due to the fact that HR technology is siloed, the employee engagement technology company found. Many employers use separate platforms for tasks relating to employee communication, recognition, applicant tracking, onboarding and performance management.

More than a fifth of companies use 10 or more different systems and applications at work, and roughly 60% are using more than five systems every day. In addition, HR professionals spent 512 hours a year, nearly two hours a day, manually checking, responding to and keeping up with multiple HR applications, Reward Gateway says.

“Many companies have systems-of-record in place with up-to-date details on their employees,” says Will Tracz, chief technology officer at Reward Gateway. “Creating and maintaining data in other systems, outside of this, often takes time and is prone to error, particularly in fast-moving businesses.”

The new survey echoes similar findings, which indicate that while employers may be increasingly using HR tech, they may not be doing so efficiently. For instance, research from the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants found that HR departments could be dropping the ball when it comes to using HR technology.

Karen Greenbaum, president and CEO of AESC told Employee Benefit News in November that total digital transformation is about more than just implementing new tech in the office.

“It’s not just, ‘Do they understand what artificial intelligence means,’ or what augmented reality means,” she says. “[It’s] ‘Do you really have an organization that can adapt to a new world?’”

Still, HR leaders are turning to tech solutions. Data from global talent acquisition and management firm Randstad Sourceright found that HR departments are going on a tech “buying spree.” The vast majority (92%) of those in the Randstad survey of more than 800 C-suite and HR leaders and 1,700 professionals believe that technology enhances the attraction, engagement and retention of talent.

Reward Gateway received similar responses. HR teams are hoping new tech will not only integrate with existing systems, but also help them achieve their goals, which include higher employee engagement, increased productivity and attracting talent.

SOURCE: Hroncich, C. (29 March 2019) "The HR tech disconnect: Are there too many digital tools?" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/hr-tech-disconnect-are-there-too-many-digital-tools?brief=00000152-146e-d1cc-a5fa-7cff8fee0000