By Faizal Mitha
“A digital population cannot be well served by an analog government,” writes the Prime Minister’s Advisory Committee on the Public Service.1
This is true not only in the Canadian government, but also in the private sector – and possibly especially in HR. Adopting a technology solution is a large investment that could open an organization up to risks. But it can also reduce costs, and it can even improve the way you support and motivate your employees.
In fact, millennials and other savvy groups prefer to update their personal information digitally, learn about their benefits through an on-demand video on their cell phone, or even collaborate with coworkers virtually.
Despite this, however, the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources (CPHR) Canada reports that, to date, Canadian businesses are not investing sufficiently in technology.2 For example, the process of onboarding is known to involve onerous tasks and plenty of paper, and yet there is still resistance to introducing a technology solution that could streamline the process. The CPHR report cautions that the resistance to technology is likely to lower productivity and render Canada less competitive globally.
But technology doesn’t have to be intimidating. In fact, employers should remember that technology is the gateway to a better experience for everyone, employer and employee alike. On the employer side, the number of HR professionals as a proportion of the overall employee base is going down, so they have more and more on their plate. They are also under tremendous pressure to promote the brand and attract the right people quickly. On the employee side, changing benefits packages and retirement options can be difficult to understand, and tracking that data in order to make the right choices can be challenging.
The right technology solution can change all of that. With the ability to present all types of benefits plans, maintain eligibility data, integrate with human resources information systems and facilitate necessary reporting and compliance all in one online portal, a technology solution can remove manual and paper-based processes, which reduces administrative headaches and expense.
If you’re still not convinced, consider this:
- Technology drives the customer experience. In the world of HR, this means that the technology should be able to make onboarding and learning, recruiting and communicating easier and faster. If you do a good job with this, HR personnel can focus on motivating and supporting employees, existing employees become happier at work, and new recruits are attracted to the organization.
- Technology makes tracking metrics easy. Which benefits are your employees using, and which need more support to drive engagement or adoption? How long does it take your employees to select and enroll for benefits, and is there a better way to streamline that process?
- Technology helps open the lines of communication between employer and employee. In fact, a good benefits plan with great communication will trump a great benefits plan with poor communication. And good technology helps support this.
When investing in a technology solution, there are a number of factors to consider before you take the plunge. These are the four most important considerations:
- Proprietary vs. Agnostic System: A proprietary system stores all information under one complete system. It’s very convenient, but you may be stuck with this system – even if you don’t like it – because it may be difficult to move to something else. An agnostic system allows you to choose the best solution for each individual category (i.e., benefits, payroll, HR), but you may have to create systems that link them together.
- Data security: Because of federal and provincial regulations, it’s easier to house data within Canada than it is to store it elsewhere. Keeping it close to home keeps the data accessible and usable for its original purpose.
- Costs: Make sure you fully understand the costs per employee, per month, including hidden costs or exclusions. If you go with a proprietary system, it may be less expensive.
- Short term disruption: Consider the challenges that the change will cause, how it will relate, and how long it will take employees to adjust.
HR technology provides the infrastructure for your entire organization, so it needs to enable your overall benefits strategy. Deciding on the right platform is a challenge, but HUB advisors are ready to work with you to find the system that best fits your goals, culture and budget – and makes your job easier.
Hub International’s team of brokers has extensive experience designing technology solutions to meet all your HR needs and can help you plan and implement the right combination of products for your organization.
Government of Canada, Seventh Report of the Prime Minister's Advisory Committee on the Public Service, March 2013, http://www.clerk.gc.ca/local_grfx/docs/pmac-ccpm/7-2013-eng.pdf
Canada 150 and Beyond: The Role of Human Resources in Canada’s Prosperity, Chartered Professionals in Human Resources Canada, 2016, https://cphr.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Canada-150-and-Beyond.pdf