· News

Businesses look to tech for post-COVID transformation

Companies are investing in digital technology and automation in order to adapt to significant workplace changes brought on by the pandemic.

Nearly half (47%) wanted to speed up daily processes through automation, and 48% said they plan to develop more digital products and services, according to a survey by the Reward & Employee Benefits Association (REBA) and Mercer Marsh Benefits (MMB).

Likewise, nearly a third (30%) plan to increase their reliance on artificial intelligence.

Digital thinking:

HR needs good tech to make hybrid work

It’s time for HR professionals to ramp up cyber awareness

Coronavirus marks an increase in digital learning, says CIPD

David Dodd, partner at Mercer Marsh Benefits (MMB), told HR magazine that tech-driven business was here to stay.

“As we come out of the pandemic, businesses are not going to go back to the way things were done beforehand. 

“We will only see more and more focus on developing the digital agenda,” he added.

“Digital and people strategy has jumped the queue and is now at the forefront of the C-suite change agenda, and it is allowing businesses the freedom to modernise without the red-tape of the past – it is simply transform or die.”

Some businesses in traditional industries, he added, are in denial of the changes.

“[They] need to consider changing the leadership from the top, to instil a modern people- and digital-focused leadership team that will drive the cultural agenda.”

Vital to any change, however, is the talent that will propel it.

More than half (53%) of businesses have already brought in key talent, with 41% still planning to do so over the next few years.

Debi O’Donovan, director of the Reward & Employee Benefits Association, added that companies are radically reconsidering how they structure job roles and career and reward hierarchies.

“By moving people around the business, rather than only promoting upwards, along with reskilling and more frequent, if smaller, pay increases for new skills developed, employees are retaining key experience and growing the skills they need.

“As robots, artificial intelligence and other technologies take over more jobs, employers need to focus on creating a culture that lets human creativity thrive, and that cares for the wellbeing of employees,” she added.

“In that environment, transformation will emerge.”

She concluded that employers that hope to have a sustainable model going into the future should map the skills they will need against those they will have, and adapt their recruitment and development strategies accordingly – and flexible working will be high on that agenda.

“To date, our working patterns have been largely based on out-dated industrial-era models of five days a week, eight hours a day.

“That rigidity is no longer appropriate for most jobs today.”