App-based HR offerings, that are tech savvy and convenient to use are the latest trend
New-age human resource (HR) technology startups are helping clients solve very specific issues pertaining to compensation, benefits and rewards. In fact, they are working to improve compensation and benefits processes for companies as core ERPs and HRMs are increasingly relying on these external add-on services to give employees a holistic people and HR connect.
HR startups in the benefits space will fit in the compensation and benefits strategies of companies for FY 2017–18 even more, and this relationship is going to be very important.
Employee benefits are given to all employees, irrespective of performance, as this is part of the compensation package at the time of joining. On the other hand, performance-related benefits are based on how well an employee performs his role that qualifies for a reward to recognise the effort. This is usually in the form of direct monetary benefits, and not much innovation has happened except for improving the administrative process.
However, of late, the employee benefits space has seen a lot of new developments, courtesy the new-age startups in the HR space. Most importantly, startups, such as Vantage Circle, have increased the scope of benefits. Traditional benefits, such as maternity leaves, transportation allowance, leave travel concession (LTC) and education reimbursements have been implemented by many companies, but new-age benefits, such as employee purchase programmes (where employees enjoy special discounts on shopping), preventive health programmes and lifestyle benefits, including hobby classes are being introduced by these startups.
Consumerisation of employee benefits
Most enterprise software have followed a trend where the offering is functionally sufficient, but poorly designed and often difficult to use. In fact, these products are sold as lists of features to C-suite executives, and the conventional wisdom over many years has been that the package with the most features wins. Unfortunately, the executive who signs the cheque rarely has to actually use the product he buys. And, therefore, the exact same features that look so good in a PowerPoint presentation, actually manifest as a mess of unusable complexity for the end user in the firm.
HR-related startups have brought in consumer-class usability and engagement within the corporate environment, and it is no longer a task to get these benefits. Simple and easy to use interfaces, app-based platforms, regular communication and support, everything is managed by these service providers. It certainly reduces the time taken by companies to get these services on board.
Engaging with employees is of key importance to any employer. However, this is easier said than done. Complications arise because there is no unified platform to track all the benefits being given. However, today this is changing with new-age companies providing a single platform that aggregates all benefits corporates give to their employees. This is being used for all employee engagements instead of HR dealing with multiple vendors and employees needing to login to different platforms. Now, there will be one place where all the services are integrated!
Also, no single service provider can provide all individual services. Therefore, the platform approach of startups, such as Vantage Circle, is unique. They have laid the foundation wherein any relevant service provider can be taken on board easily, thus increasing the benefits to employees. Startups such as these provide employee discounts, rewards and wellness benefits to corporates. Some even provide many of the modules free of cost to corporates as the revenue model is tuned towards the same.
The single biggest trend is that your mobile device is becoming the central tool for HR engaging with the work force and using that as a unified platform to communicate and act. Mobile phones are changing HR dynamics to a large extent. With mobiles becoming completely commonplace, smart phones are being preferred over laptops/desktops. This gives a unique opportunity for HR personnel to engage with their audience continuously. Whether it is the basic activities, such as payroll, timesheet, or communication and productivity tools or benefits, such as exclusive shopping discounts or rewards, today everything is available through the mobile. The new-age millennials will need to be addressed in a more tech savvy manner, which indicates that app-based technologies will certainly be more increasingly used. With convenience at the fingertips of the employees, employers will be able to leverage advantages of engaging continually, which will create an atmosphere of open communication as well. This ensures that all the data is captured and HR will be able to use the data in real actionable terms.
Working with startups and new-age HR tech companies can help corporates ensure that employees are able to use the benefits being offered to them. 2017 is poised to be the year of change, where compensation and benefits will take centre stage. Building a holistic environment, where employees are able to make the most of these advantages, will help build better relationships with the organisation.
(The author is CEO, Vantage Circle. The views expressed in this story is that of the author)