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Insights into the Future of HR: Enabling Employee Well-being

By Arthur Mazor, Principal, Deloitte

Arthur Mazor, Principal, Deloitte

The rising emphasis on employee wellness and well-being isn’t happening in a vacuum. It can actually be traced to much broader disruption that is drastically and rapidly affecting business, the workforce, and how works gets done.

On the business side, many companies are shifting, evolving, and even disappearing at an unprecedented pace. In 1964 the average tenure on the S&P 500 was 33 years. By 2016 it was 24 years, and by 2027 it is forecast to be cut in half to just 12 years. At the same time, people are holding businesses to a higher standard, expecting companies to fulfill a social purpose as well as a financial one and looking to business for help in addressing the sweeping issues that governments have found challenging to manage effectively on their own.

The increasing number of millennials in the workforce— now the largest segment of the US workforce at 35 percent— may partially account for this. Also at play is the changing nature of how people think about work as they move through what could be a 40- or 50-year career, with as much as 40 percent of the workforce opting for contingent employment arrangements.

How work gets done is also changing dramatically, as technology continues to permeate our lives. The majority—61 percent—of companies surveyed for the 2018 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report say they are actively redesigning jobs around artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and new business models. By 2022, AI is expected to create $3.9 trillion in business value. And in the corporate wellness space alone, spending on health care programs, screening, assessment, education, and apps has reached nearly $8 billion in the United States and is expected to surge to $11.3 billion by 2021.

"Disruption is all around us, in our everyday lives at home and at work and in business and society at large. HR is in a unique position to offer new solutions that help the enterprise and its people thrive in our changing world. Now is the time for HR to seize its future."

What does this mean for HR? Disrupt or be disrupted!

In the midst of the massive disruption impacting business and workforce, HR can’t expect to “ride out the storm” by operating in the same way. Instead, organizations are advancing from traditional ways of operating HR toward the High-Impact HR Operating Model, which is built around four core philosophies:

1. HR customers remain at the center of the model with a bigger voice than ever, driving a critical focus on workforce experience.
2. The digital workplace empowers and connects the workforce via modern digital experience.
3. Workforce insights, derived through digital solutions and strengthened analytical capabilities of HR, inform the business strategy.
4. Fluid interaction among the HR components breaks silos created by traditional HR operating models and ways of working.

Let’s look at what High-Impact HR means to employee well-being.

We know, through our work with clients and how we work ourselves that we expect our experiences at work to be on par with our experiences in our day-to-day personal lives. We want to be able to work digitally. We want information tailored to our needs and preferences, as it is in our online consumer and social interactions. We want flexibility, so work can be a more fluid part of our lives rather than something that starts and stops at a given time and place.

High-Impact HR’s focus on the customer extends to tailoring programs around the expectations and preferences of the workforce, which increasingly extend beyond compensation and benefits and include recognition, career development, and a holistic approach to well-being. This holistic, unified approach encompasses all four pillars of well-being—Body, Mind, Wealth, and Purpose.

Thanks to a plethora of new technology and solutions on the market, it’s getting easier for organizations to support employee well-being. For example, well-being platforms and specific apps are available that include analytics and personalized delivery and communication. These can connect people with coworkers as well as giving them information, nudges, reminders, and suggestions that support their physical and mental health.

A wellness-inducing employee experience

These solutions contribute to creating an overall employee experience that is not only easy and intuitive (a likely wellness enhancer itself, given stresses and complexities of day-to-day life) but also fuels business results. A study by MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research found that companies scoring in the top quartile of employee experience significantly outperformed those in the lowest quartile, demonstrating:

• Twice the innovation
• Double the customer satisfaction
• Twenty-five percent greater profitability compared to competitors

This study also pointed out the link between companies in the top quartile and digital enablement: Top-quartile companies provided 66 percent more digital capacity in areas such as mobile access to work, on-demand support where and when needed, and the ability to easily search and access people and resources within the organization.

By using technology to make the workforce’s work and life easier, organizations have the opportunity to help workers reduce stress and be more productive. Good for people and good for business!

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