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HR Tech & Employee Engagement

Updated: Feb 9, 2021

Energised employees drive positive business outcomes, but achieving this goal pervasively, consistently and harmoniously across all corporate entities comes with its own set of challenges, and whilst aligning employees to achieve operational outcomes is seen as obvious, not to mention basic, it is not always done well in practice if at all.

Times are changing

Driven through an external combination of both push and pull factors that are acting as a catalyst, corporates are having to consider deeper changes regarding employee engagement.

Continuing to level up

Polarisation of attitudes means that not all employees or indeed management will agree on every aspect of change, but over time society in general will continue to nudge us all forwards to a common acceptable lowest threshold point, that strong informed or passionate leaders will aim to surpass.

Momentum in this area continues to build and includes challenges in gender pay, ethnicity, DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion), ESG, and more recently algorithmic bias from the use of AI (Artificial Intelligence).

Reputational risk

External and internal risk continues to increase for corporates and is ever more multi-pronged in this interconnected world, whether it be a risk from the actions of employees clicking on bad hyperlinks in their daily work, or actions or internal policies that deviate somewhat from any expected status quo. Courts of public opinion are a powerful adversary for anyone to counter, should one end up on the wrong side of it.

So what has changed re the ability to drive secure change within the HRMS system:

System capability

Both Payroll and HR systems have been expanding to become full service platforms to empower both managers and staff to undertake an increasing number of functions to remove or reduce the need for centralised administrative resources, as well as having a positive impact on work life balance. This brings some elements of self service, and a reinvigorated corporate discipline to ensure within budget execution for both procurement and expenses, which drives ongoing deeper as well as predictable financial control.

At the same time the changes described above are demanding a more centralised holistic approach to HR, so that required data sets can be transformed and aggregated for any ongoing related management purpose and production of required KPI’s.

Process alignment

Today, there is a lot more flexibility in process design to leverage different types of corporate data. In essence, an end to end data compliant process can be created from 1) data collection (incl. mobile etc), 2) thru any required data transformation(s), to 3) reporting + analytics @anywhere @anytime within the process to drive actionable contextual ranked reports and/or equivalent workflows, as well as 4) being able to undertake process simulations looking either backwards or forwards to fine tune operational data sensitivity levels eg looking forwards at the # of future workflows that are likely to be generated for resource planning purposes.

API’s can be used @anywhere @anytime in these processes, and can be focused either internally or externally with your 3rd party service providers for additional value, as well as speed of execution: eg payroll treasury functions, integration for 3rd party employee checks, employee development etc

Examples:- real time commissions driven from both financial and non-financial metrics; analysis of gender pay rises by manager; absolute functional pay by gender for the same role across entities; or more holistically the ability for senior HR staff to be leveraged across smaller operations. For each, privacy and compliance controls will be in place.

Leveraging newer technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) or the internet of things (IoT) can be fostered, once you have the ability to define granular control of data sets.

Quantitative & qualitative

Process handling for both types, together with compliance controls, can be handled in the end to end design. Deployed at an ultra-granular level, they provide aligned, repeatable, auditable secure processes, whether they be working in isolation or together for purposes of value creation.

Proactive not reactive

Recurring themes associated with modern technologies is that they work for you and not vice versa, meaning that you can proactively gain critical contextual actionable insights. Examples may relate to staff retention management, work overload prevention: ie a possible attrition scenario, where say consultants are fully billable, but have not yet been able to take their typical holiday breaks etc. Of course systems can handle the basic questions like how many staff we have today with any required granular movement analysis.

Proactivity can be a vital tool for employees who need additional forms of engagement, support or complaint channels. #WFH initiatives are not working for everyone with different stakeholders having very different challenges; for example managers losing aggregate productivity; singles feeling isolated; lack of IT infrastructure that prevents work being done, young children to handle etc etc etc

Technology is beginning to drive what Gartner describes as IoB, the internet of behaviors that will have to be handled with detailed considerations re privacy. Examples follow: auto assessing good driving skills where applicable; ensuring masks are worn in office areas; mood detection (for you) using voice algorithms when undertaking client calls for self-control, noting that some shareholders use this already during earnings calls; auto biometric facial recognition on office arrival; some corporates are testing opt-in nightly hour sleep with a $ bonus for X hours sleep per night. Of course from these some things will challenge us all as to what is acceptable.

However, in each such case there are considerations to take into account re government regulations when using biometrics, and as always data classifications are needed, so always think of the physical, logical and legal location of any personally identifiable information (PII) data, together with relevant government regulations during the entire end to end process. This can also help you in any data breach to understand which data is at risk, especially within these extended data processes where data locations may not have been considered in any detail.


Change management has always been a difficult area to do well, and will be even more important going forwards as silos of information become replaced with simplified end to end processes. This will increase complexity as well as having to satisfy the needs of different stakeholders. These will likely be x-application and x-ecosystem to your 3rd party specialist providers, but will probably be undertaken as the increased value will be seen to outweigh any perceived risk. Remember here that systems integration and various skills are needed for execution, so be sure to factor these in.

Driving communication

As touched on with #WFH and automation above, communication and progress updates have always been a vital component of success and one can never share enough. Controlled processes also come with the benefit of always having latest current form versions in sync with processes.

Enabling agility

A key requirement for the future for some, even more than today, will be a need to create or decommission teams quickly, taking into account the specific needs of the task at hand, meaning that core skills sets need to be identified, available and leveraged as required in the field. Some of these likely already exist within staff, but one needs a way to find them. Business speed will also drive unpredictable demands on required skills, thereby making learning and development in advance of needing specific skills harder to execute.

Some professional qualifications also need to be managed for ongoing validity across countries under a managed process as well, which goes back to the above point of being able to define unique qualitative and quantitative end to end specialist processes that historically might not have fitted internal system designs.


Combined with chat rooms and calendar integrations these can generate a “warmer” environment and can facilitate communication in a multitude of areas to become an important information and process flow conduit.

Examples are widespread and maybe company or departmentally focused:

  • Welcome packs for new recruits; Employee handbooks; Who’s Who; Org Chart and role descriptions; Payroll dates; Benefits opt in; Health opt in

  • e-Forms. Holiday, Expenses, Procurement Portal, Timesheets etc

  • Internal Employment Opportunities

  • Hot desking prioritisation for interns, new staff or visitors

  • Cybersecurity refreshes on best practice

  • Staff Appraisal review processes and documentation; full role descriptions

  • Company, product, industry news and announcements

  • 2nd hand goods portal; corporate discounts

  • Interactive surveys of any kind eg opinion

  • Encouraging green behavior that might include core activity power consumption by staff / department per capita etc

  • Continuous learning initiatives / escalations / suggestion boxes / late working e-vouchers etc

  • Community Support. Employee resource groups can really help build a community spirit and culture that is focused to social or work related specific activities

Going forwards proactive or voice interactive processes are going to challenge portals in the future, and although the technologies are here now, any deployment will need careful considerations from a privacy viewpoint.

Staff surveys

Whether anonymous or not, these are always an invaluable input. Often those things that we think work well do not, whilst the reverse can be true.

Health & wellbeing

Without doubt, this area continues to evolve and new costing mechanisms are already being seen with Insurtech. This will help corporates more tightly fine tune their processes to make them more appealing to employees, and to reduce health costs through pay as you go employee opt-in models. These will leverage smart IoT devices to achieve a win: win scenario for both employer and employees alike, and all under a privacy framework.


This is an example of something that appeals to many but not all. Whether it be used to drive a competitive spirit for Health and Wellbeing initiatives, for example related to jogging within teams, or opt in groups is something gaining traction. Other examples might be to incentivise time expense form filling to solve the issue of submissions being late etc, or employer driven e-voucher performance rewards that can be used across multiple suppliers for optimum flexibility and enjoyment.

Employee engagement methodologies are fundamental to drive success and foster controlled safe environments for ongoing communications and feedback in both directions. Technology now allows for all types of processes to be deployed iteratively at an ultra-granular level, thereby also future proofing them. A game changer!!

FlexSystem is a business software vendor to 1 in 10 Forbes Global 2000 (May 2020) and 1 in 5 Global Fortune 500 (August 2020), operating at the intersection of new process and payment technologies to provide you with iterative opportunities for value creation with or without AI at both gross and net margin levels.

Ashley Clarke, COO, FlexSystem Ltd



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