Willis Towers Watson: HR Technology, Consulting, and Data

When you think of Willis Towers Watson, “software” is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. As a leading consulting provider with over 40,000 employees in 140 countries, corporations use Willis Towers Watson’s services to help them grow, develop and retain talent. This firm has a reputation for expertise and excellence in delivering HR solutions to complex organizations. But, what might surprise you (and it surprised me) is its’ commitment to innovation and world-class technology. Willis Towers Watson has a suite of solutions that includes compensation software, assessments, engagement solutions, HR portals, and analytics. These are not traditional or outdated solutions but rather solutions that provide a modern, simple experience and innovative, next generation capabilities. What sets it apart and why I was so impressed with this provider is the combination of software, services, and reliable data. It doesn’t excel in just one of these areas. It provides expertise in all three and offers its customers what seems to be so rare in HR technology…a true partnership.

Each month, we select a different provider to profile that has impressed us and Willis Towers Watson is this month’s selection. Below are some of the more innovative solutions:

–          Compensation Software: Compensation is a top priority for organizations this year. When we asked companies what they are looking for in a provider, 1 in 2 companies said the ability to support growth at their organization. Companies want a partner that understands the complexities of compensation management, the dynamics of an evolving market, and can provide the expertise and insight to help them make more strategic decisions. Willis Towers Watson offers a solution to help companies design and analyze and manage their compensation programs with capabilities that include competitive benchmarking, salary structure design, job leveling (to achieve a balance across an organization), and reporting and analytics.

–          Engagement Solutions: Engaging employees is one of the greatest challenges facing HR professionals today. According to our 2018 Hire, Engage, and Retain survey, companies that invest in engagement software are 4 times more likely to retain employees and 2 times more likely to improve organizational performance. Willis Towers Watson offers more than just surveys. It offers solutions that measure engagement efforts and create an action plan to improve engagement efforts. It offers pulse surveys – a high growth area of HR tech that 1 in 2 companies plan to increase investment in over the next year. One global consumer goods company decided to implement pulse surveys to better understand local concerns and compare that to the larger employee engagement survey.

–          HR Portal: The HR Portal software has several benefits including a better approach for employee communication and engagement. This solution is personalized to the individual so he or she receives information that is relevant and unique to them. The portal is branded to reflect company goals and objectives and includes case management, total rewards dashboards, and analytics.  One financial services client with over 80,000 employees uses HR Portal to increase employee participation in total rewards programs and showcase the company brand.

HR technology seems divided between traditional providers (with outdated technology) that are able to support complex global organizations and startups that offer more innovation but lack the security and flexibility that large organizations need. Willis Towers Watson is proving that organizations do not need to sacrifice one for the other. They can have the expertise and the innovation across a suite of solutions.


New Research on the Employee Experience

In this economy, the employee experience is everything. It is the experience that gives companies a competitive edge even when their products fall short. It creates loyalty and a powerful commitment to a certain company or brand.

Yet, when it comes to creating, maintaining and measuring a positive employee experience, most companies fall short. According to Gallup, 70% of the US workforce is actively disengaged and US companies are losing north of $500 billion in profits each year due to loss of productivity. According to Harvard Business Review, organizations with low engagement report up to a 65% increase in turnover. Clearly, something needs to change.

I am excited about new research that we worked on with our friends George LaRocque (Founder, #HRWins) and Ben Eubanks (Principal Analyst, Lighthouse Research and Advisory) for Talmetrix that talks about the strategies for improving the employee experience.

Here are a few highlights from the research:

  1. Define Culture: Culture is the foundation and the most critical step in creating a positive employee experience. It includes the set of beliefs and behaviors that shape a team and all of their interactions. Studies show that companies with performance-enhancing cultures far out-perform those without it in terms of revenue growth, stock price growth, and net income growth.
  2. Measure the Experience: Don’t expect to make changes and improvements without a strategy for measuring the employee experience. Aptitude’s 2016 Hire, Engage and Retain Survey found that 81% of top-performing companies measure the experience of candidates, employees, managers, and leaders.
  3. Strengthen Employee Communication and Collaboration: Communication received by an employee during all interactions with the employer affects their feeling of engagement and leads to particular behaviors. Communication is most effective when it is personal and shouldn’t be done through email alone. Companies need to find what type of communication works for engaging employees.
  4. Use Data to Drive Decisions: While an increasing number of companies are recognizing the need for better analytics and insights, the majority are still utilizing ad-hoc approaches to collecting data, pulling reports, and analyzing. Data needs to drive decisions around how to engage with talent and provide a more meaningful relationship between companies and employees.

As you start planning for how to improve the employee experience in 2018, check out the research and let us know what you think.


Employee Recognition: Thinking Beyond the Holidays

During the holiday season, most companies find some way to recognize their employees. This recognition may come from gift certificates, company parties, or extra vacation days. And while the intentions are genuine, showing appreciating only once a year does very little to boost morale, motivate employees, or improve engagement efforts.  We found that most companies are still fairly immature in their recognition efforts. According to our recent culture survey, managers lack the right tools and strategies.

  • 52% of leaders recognize employees
  • 44% of companies encourage peer recognition
  • 40% of managers are trained on recognition

Strategic recognition can have a dramatic impact on business results – helping companies improve retention, productivity and performance. In fact, companies with strategic recognition are three times more likely to have an engaged workforce and two times more likely to improve quality of hire. But in order for companies to mature in the way they appreciate employees, recognition needs to be Consistent, Frequent, and Meaningful.

Companies also need to have the right tools and technology in place. One in four organizations plan to invest in social recognition solutions over the next 12 months. The recognition technology market has evolved from a stand-alone module to a suite of solutions that align with performance and engagement. These solutions give hope to a market that is ready for change. Tomorrow during a webinar, I will sharing some of our recent research on recognition and providing some strategies for improving recognition and investing in the right provider. Please join me at 11am EST!


The Future of Work: A Wish List

At the start of Labor Day weekend, it seems appropriate to reflect on the realities and possibilities of work.  According to the Department of Labor:

“Labor Day is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”

Our theme at Aptitude this week has been the future of work but maybe it’s time to take a step back and think about the past. How can we do a better job as employers of paying tribute to the contributions of our workers? A day off is great but why can’t this happen throughout the year on a more consistent basis? So, in the spirit of Labor Day and honoring the past, here is our wish list for the future of work.

–       Recognition: Seventy-five percent (75%) of companies have a formal recognition program according to research we conducted earlier this year. Yet, so few of these companies make sure that recognition is ingrained in the company culture or invest in the right technology to motivate their employees. Recognition, the art of saying “thank you”, needs to be a core part of the work environment.

–       Communication: When asked to identify the top priorities for recruiting and engaging talent, stronger employee communication was top of the list across all industries and company sizes. Today, success is defined by a company’s ability to align strategy and execution, and effective communication is critical to achieving this alignment. In fact, top performing companies are 3 times more likely to invest in communication than their peers.

–       Flexibility: Earlier this week, Amazon announced that it would let some work a 30 day work week. This decision gives employees the freedom to spend less time in the office. Employees want greater flexibility not only with the ability to work from home but around the employer/employee relationship. With the influx of contingent workers in the market, employers that provide greater flexibility will not only see an increase in employee morale and engagement but also, in productivity and performance.

In order to take a look at the future, maybe we need to start by taking a look at the past and getting back to basics. We will be covering these topics in our upcoming Culture Survey later this month. Stay tuned…


Employee Communication: Executive Summary

Aptitude Research Partner’s is excited to launch our Employee Communications research focused on strategies for building stronger relationships between employees and employers and driving business success. Please click on the link below to download the Executive Summary of the report.

ARP Employee Communications Exec Sum

Employee communication is the most critical job of the modern HR professional and too often, the most overlooked. Any workforce challenge can be linked to poor communication including engagement, retention, productivity and performance. When employees do not receive the information they need to do their jobs, they are more likely to underperform and to leave. Although 96% of companies recognize that stronger communication drives business results, most employee communication is ineffective and inconsistent. In fact, only 47% of employees read their communication messages.

This report based on data collected in February 2016 will explore the need for strategic communication, the changes in today’s workforce and the role of technology in driving business outcomes

Blog Talent Acquisition Strategies

A New Year, A New Survey, A New Conversation

If you follow the HCM space, you may have noticed that everyone seems to say and write about the same stuff. We all talk about analytics being important, the rise of a more flexible workforce and the need for solutions that focus on the individual. We talk about mobile, social, and video and how they are being used. We talk about the evolution of talent acquisition and HR departments and examine trends. And while all of these topics are important, we believe it’s time for a new conversation. One that focuses on what works, what doesn‘t and what needs to change in the future. A conversation with new ideas and new actions all powered by data and insight.

We want to start that conversation today and we want you to be a part of it. We are so excited to launch our Hire, Engage and Retain survey that will look at what drives success when finding and keeping talent. We want to hear about the processes and technology you are using and what will change in 2016. By taking this 20 minute survey, we want you to have an opportunity to share your story and help us start this conversation.

Below are a few ways this survey is different and few things to expect from our research.

Why Is This Survey Different?

  1. Focus on Communication: Communication is a critical part of HCM that often goes ignored. We have included questions to help determine how companies are communicating with talent and what they plan to do in 2016.
  2. Start-Stop-Continue: As we enter the new year, most companies have big plans for how they are hiring and engaging talent. We want to know what processes and technology you plan to start, what you plan to stop and what you will continue to do.
  3. Differentiators: The relationship you have with your technology is an important one. We want to look at what differentiates providers beyond product capabilities and how providers are partnering with companies to help drive business results.
  4. A Consistent Approach to Talent: Many parallels can be drawn between how companies communicate and interact with candidates and how they communicate and interact with employees. Yet, they are not always consistent. We are looking at where companies can improve the ways they both hire, engage and retain top talent.

What Can You Expect from our Research?

  1. Customer Satisfaction: We will be exploring customer satisfaction across all areas of the customer journey from needs assessment and readiness to selection to implementation and beyond.
  2. Holistic Talent Acquisition: Talent acquisition is complex and important enough to deserve its own suite of technology solutions. We will look at how companies are building out a comprehensive talent acquisition model, investing in leading platforms and thinking about an ecosystem of solutions.
  3. Engagement Experience: We will be looking at how companies are thinking differently about engagement solutions and investing in recognition, wellness, communication platforms, and performance tools to better engage their workforce.
  4. Aptitude Index Reports: This research will help to power or aptitude index reports that profile the leading providers and examines their differentiators across the customer journey.

We hope you will join us in this new research adventure and share your experiences with us. We looking forward to hearing your story. Happy New Year!