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HR digitalisation still more HR-centric than employee-centric


A European employer survey conducted by the leading European HR and payroll services provider SD Worx shows that HR digitalisation is primarily aimed at making HR’s life easier, but not so much that of employees. To illustrate: digital maturity has been mainly achieved for highly transactional processes, while management systems far outweigh more employee-focused tools such as self-service systems, employee experience platforms and digital assistants. Meanwhile, HR tech providers try to turn the tide to meet the employees’ cry for help.

    37.7% (up 1.1% from 2020) of European companies report a high level of digital maturity in HR

      Digital maturity in HR is very similar to the survey SD Worx ran last year: about 37% of European companies claim to have reached a high to very high level of digital maturity in HR, about 1 in 3 companies report a rather moderate level and over 1 in 4 companies realize they urgently must step things up. It is important, though, to note that there are significant differences between the various HR areas.

        From payroll to employee welfare

        Highly transactional HR tasks, such as payroll, time management and expense management, score much higher for digital maturity than more people-oriented HR areas such as employee welfare, employee commitment and teamwork, where only 1 in 3 employers claim to have reached a high to very high degree of digital maturity. Even recruitment and selection, the first touchpoint of the employee journey, is relegated to the bottom of the pile.


            Payroll: 3.4/5

            Payroll is the number one HR area for digital maturity in all countries, except for Germany (2), Spain (2), Switzerland (2) and Italy (5).

              National differences

              Breaking the numbers further up by country, we notice some remarkable differences. For example, over 4 in 10 Spanish, German and Irish companies claim to have reached a (very) high level of digital maturity in people-oriented HR area, while only 2 in 10 Nordic companies say the same.

                High digital maturity in people-oriented HR area (welfare, commitment and teamwork)

                Top 3

                1. Spain (44%)
                2. Ireland (42%)
                3. Germany (41.8%)

                Bottom 3

                1. The Nordics (22.3%)
                2. Belgium (24.4%)
                3. the UK (27.5%)

                  Management systems as the default option

                  Looking at which type of technology companies use to execute their digital transformation, the conclusion is the same: HR tech for HR’s sake is the default today. This means that management systems are most likely to be used by the European companies, the UK stands on top with 39%. On the other hand, less than 1 in 5 European companies provide tools that empower employees and can boost their HR experience (self-service systems, employee experience (EX) platforms and AI-powered digital assistants). Regarding the employee’s sake, self-service systems, together with data and analytics, are the most used tech tools to empower the employees. Ireland and Poland score highest regarding self-service, Germany and Austria when it comes to using employer data and analytics. An employee experience platform and AI-powered assistants (self-automated chats eg) dangle at the bottom of all tech HR supplies. Less than 1 in 10 companies integrate these systems.

                    Which type of HR tech do you use?

                    1. Management systems (30%)
                    2. Self-service systems (19%)
                    3. Data and analytics (19%)
                    4. Employee experience platform (9%)
                    5. AI-powered digital assistants and robots (9%)

                        Building collaborative digital ecosystems

                        43.1% of European employees feel (very) positive about their organization’s general approach to HR

                          “A possible path for HR to (re)connect with employees is to prioritise employee experience in their digital transformation”, says Cathy Geerts, Chief HR officer at SD Worx. “This can be achieved by selecting tech that allows for collaborative HR. For example, our multi-country core HR solution SD Worx People engages managers, employees and HR professionals in multiple countries to efficiently collaborate on HR, guided by self-service workflows. The user-friendly tool significantly improves the employee experience, while it gives HR the certainty that all people data are accurate, as the CORE HR is based on the payroll system.”

                            About SD Worx

                            In today’s new world of work, organisations need a dynamic, motivated workforce empowered by smart technology. As a leading European provider of people solutions, SD Worx turns HR into a source of value for businesses and the people that work for them through four core capabilities: technology, outsourcing, expertise and data-driven insights. Moreover, SD Worx delivers people solutions across the entire employee lifecycle, from paying employees to attracting, rewarding and developing talent.

                            More than 76,000 small and large organisations across the globe place their trust in SD Worx and its 75+ years of experience. SD Worx offers its people solutions in 150 countries, calculates the salaries of approximately 5 million employees and ranks among the top five HR service providers worldwide. The more than 5,300 employees at SD Worx operate in eighteen countries: Belgium (HQ), Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Mauritius, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

                            In 2020, SD Worx achieved a consolidated turnover of more than EUR 825 million (pro forma).

                            More info at www.sdworx.com / Follow us via LinkedIn and Twitter

                              About the employer survey

                              The online survey ‘The Future of Work and People in Europe 2021’ was conducted in June 2021. Over the course of several weeks, SD Worx managed to reach nearly 3,000 companies in 12 European countries/regions (Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, the UK and the Nordics). The participants ranged from small companies (less than 100 employees) to large enterprises (more than 1,000 employees) and represent all 4 economic sectors.


                              The full e-book 'Ride smarter, not harder: towards people-first digital HR' can be downloaded right here.