From administrator to strategic partner - what are companies doing to get the most from their Business 2 Employee/e-HR investment?
By Watson Wyatt Europe who can be contacted at www.watsonwyatt.com
The use of technology in human resources and employee communication is spreading fast. Companies increasingly see B2E/eHR as strategic initiatives that can help them achieve business goals.
Watson Wyatt’s first European survey of B2E/eHR issues – encompassing 173 major European companies, across all industries – highlighted a number of interesting trends.
The key survey highlights show that:
>> 75% of participating companies plan to enhance their B2E/eHR capabilities significantly in the next two years
>> There is a shift away from simply publishing information on an intranet to more personalised and interactive capabilities
>> Despite fairly high access to technology, a large number of companies report low employee usage
>> UK companies tend to invest to achieve ‘hard’ measures, such as cost reduction and increasing productivity. Continental European companies seem to focus on ‘softer’ reasons for investing, such as improving the HR service to employees, and promoting company culture
>> The biggest barrier for B2E/eHR investment is difficulty in developing a convincing business case. Companies indicated uncertainty in how to measure and demonstrate the value and benefits of B2E/eHR.
2. Our definitions of B2E and eHR:
B2E is the application of technology to enable managers and employees to have direct access to HR and other workplace services. This includes communication, team management, knowledge management and learning. eHR encompasses similar technology applications that fall specifically within the HR function.
3. The state of things to come
Companies are not standing still. Survey respondents indicated that there are two key drivers for investing in and extending their use of B2E/eHR systems, including:
>> Recognition of business benefits (67%)
>> Response to employee expectations (58%).
Companies appear to recognise the enormous potential benefits of building B2E/eHR capability. Nearly 60% of respondents stated that the ability to refocus HR as a strategic business partner was a key benefit. In purely pragmatic terms, companies also see benefits through increased productivity and improved service. It seems clear that the pressure on HR to change from a cost-heavy, administrative function to a value-adding business-oriented ‘partner’ could be largely addressed through intelligent development of eHR.
4. The B2E/eHR journey
Our study demonstrates that European organisations intend to develop their use of B2E/eHR in the short to medium term, despite the current economic climate.
We asked companies to mark on a sliding scale their current perceived position on the ‘B2E journey’, and where they expect to be in two years’ time.
The response suggests that there is still a long way to go, but everyone is moving in the same direction towards achieving true strategic benefits from their B2E/eHR programmes.
* Reproduced by permission of Watson Wyatt