Future of Work: Five Ways People Investments Improve Profits

By James Norwood, CMO and EVP of Strategy at isolved

Investments in digital transformation to improve sales, marketing and product make up a trillion-dollar industry according to analyst firm IDC but human resource (HR) departments rarely get their fair share of dry powder to invest in improvements to the employee experience (EX).

Companies consider the most obvious areas for investment first – anything more easily and readily connected to revenue. This way of thinking, however, suggests that many leadership teams don’t consider people – employees who are behind all of those revenue-generating channels – when investing in digital initiatives. In 2021, there are more reasons – five are detailed below – than ever to bring HR to the digital transformation table to move marketing, sales and company-wide goals. 

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  1. Patchwork Platforms Eat Up Limited Resources

    The average HR department uses at least five systems for time, attendance, payroll, learning management and more. When considering systems for performance, collaboration, recognition, etc., that number is likely much higher. When systems for critical HR functions are cobbled together, don’t share data and require multiple logins, the employee experience suffers. Consolidating platforms as part of an HR-led digital transformation project reduces friction for the employee, decreases costs, prevents errors, and increases both employee and HR productivity. This is particularly true for field employees who need a single mobile-ready, intuitive and easy-to-use tool – not 10 of them.

  2. Employee Expectations Have Changed

    Driven by their experiences when scrolling their favorite social media app or when shopping their favorite retailer – or let’s face it, Amazon – employees are bringing their ever-increasing digital expectations to work. In fact, our end-of-year survey found that 56 percent of full-time employees said that EX will be more important to them in 2021 than it was in 2020. Similar to “digital experience”, “employee experience” is the end-to-end capabilities and communications (often digital) that a person has with an employer before, during and after their tenure. The expectations may be set by giants like Amazon, but they carry over to how sales teams want to check PTO balances, commission payouts, their W2 and all their workforce needs – without asking their manager, payroll or HR for the info.

  3. COVID Accelerates the Need for Digital-Only Channels

    What the global health crisis provided companies was a mirror into their digital capabilities. Those that invested in digital prior to the pandemic were better equipped at pivoting to digital-only interactions both internally and externally. Those without the infrastructure in place are still racing to figure out how to support sales teams, who may have relied on in-person interactions, externally and how to support sales teams internally by helping them see an estimate of their paycheck, connecting with colleagues, changing pay structure in some cases, getting access to analytics and being productive in a new work environment. 

  4. Employee Experience is Tied to Customer Experience

    Every employee is in the customer business, and the parallels between investing in people internally and improving the customer experience externally can’t be overlooked. Not every company has realized that if they have more engaged employees, their performance will be better and that’s going to reflect in what the customers experience as well. The data backs up this train of thought with 89 percent of companies agreeing that improving internal engagement will improve external engagement. 

  5. Turnover Costs Sales Teams Greatly

    Whatever the industry, there is a learning curve for sales teams to understand their company and their products. Every time an employee leaves, that built-up knowledge goes with them. Unfortunately, in 2020, many organizations were faced with layoffs and furloughs but when a company can help that turnover, it makes for a stronger sales organization. When HR is able to make digital transformation efforts, they are supporting sales with elements like radical workplace flexibility, employee engagement, wellness and wellbeing, self-service HR options, talent retention and more. Everyone wins when HR can better support each department. 

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While HR has certainly made some investments over the years, they were often not included in encompassing initiatives like digital transformation – that has changed this year. There are so many extensively negative aspects of the pandemic but one of the good things that came out of it for companies is the complete refocusing of businesses on their people. Companies are considering how to connect more effectively with people and engage with them. This must be done while simultaneously delivering a common sense of purpose and belonging while teams are homebound. For these reasons, COVID has raised the human resources side of the business to the top of the investment agenda, which means rightful investments in people which is always a right move.

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