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How HR Software Enables a Remote Workforce

  • How HR software has improved HR professionals’ ability to manage a remote workforce
  • The opportunities and challenges of HR software

With an increasingly remote workforce, HR professionals are challenged with cultivating a culture of connection and communication in virtual settings. In response to the challenge, these HR leaders are turning to software.

How specifically have HR professionals embraced software to better manage a spread-out workforce, and what are their challenges?

Below are some insights from HR professionals highlighting where software has been an asset in supporting remote employees, and where it has fallen short:

  • Digital tools and interfaces streamline and simplify virtual onboarding
  • Employee communication and connection is vital for a remote workforce to thrive
  • Complexity and compliance issues remain a challenge

Digital tools and interfaces streamline and simplify virtual onboarding

Where technology was once largely the purview of information technology departments, it has become the heart of HR when it comes to managing a distributed workforce.

One area where HR software has made an outsized impact is in the virtual onboarding process. From showing new hires where to get important company documents to embedding employees in the company culture starting day one, digital tools have simplified remote onboarding, says Sharon Terera, PhD, an independent HR consultant affiliated with ForexToStocks.

Specifically, she noted:

"We employed seamless HR software to manage our virtual onboarding process to improve the employee experience. Instead of making the virtual onboarding process a checklist of to-dos, we also incorporated interactive cultural training sessions for the new hires to speed up the socialization process."

Sharon Terera, PhD, independent HR consultant

Elisabeth Duncan, Vice President of Human Resources at Evive, offered her thoughts:

"Automated technology can help employees who have never been in the office become acclimated before the first day to proprietary software and tools, company benefits, organizational branding, key meetings and team members."

Elisabeth Duncan, Vice President of Human Resources, Evive

Employee communication and connection is vital for a remote workforce to thrive

With much of today’s workforce spread out geographically, adequate communication is key to foster a sense of connection and inclusivity. Personalization is a vital part of increasing engagement, making remote employees feel valued and thereby improve retention, says Evive’s Elisabeth Duncan. Duncan specifically emphasized the importance of personalized health benefits communication, adding:

"HR technology that utilizes data to distribute rapid, personalized communication to employees in vulnerable moments could, for example, drive people to an employer-sponsored Employee Assistance Program (EAP), mental health treatment or physical wellness program to gain the help or advice they need. This is especially relevant today when employees are socially isolated and employers or co-workers can’t be there in person."

Elisabeth Duncan, Vice President of Human Resources, Evive

To accomplish the above objective, HR software can segment employee populations by a variety of factors, including cultures, age groups, medical histories, familial make-ups, and genders. According to John Lee, Co-Founder at remote employment agency Work From Anywhere, this enables HR professionals to deliver more targeted messaging, and therefore, a more personalized experience throughout the employee journey, from onboarding to benefits enrollment to getting a paycheck—even for those working abroad.

Complexity and compliance issues remain a challenge

While HR software is evolving how HR professionals manage, onboard and retain employees, the technology has its challenges. Most digital tools are not one-size-fits-all, which often results in a cobbling together of various platforms to create an integrated solution, adding a layer of complexity.

According to Sharon Terera, "We have had to use various HR software for different tasks because it is difficult to find an HR software that incorporates all the features we need for daily use."

Tax, legal, and compliance issues, specifically for remote workers in other countries, are also an area where HR software falls short, notes John Lee, Co-Founder of Work From Anywhere:

"The challenge is that it is not possible in all cases to facilitate remote work abroad due to visa, individual tax, corporation tax, employment law, or other considerations. Existing HR software solutions don’t do a great job of handling the complexity of work from anywhere in a user-friendly way. And a lot of the compliance solutions have been tailored to expats, which only make up a small portion of the workforce."

John Lee, co-founder at Work From Anywhere

The Takeaway for HR Software Providers

As a growing number of employers make the switch to fully remote or hybrid workforces, HR software is becoming an indispensable tool in the virtual workforce.

As such, incumbent HR software providers as well as new entrants have an opportunity to leverage this inflection point by focusing on ways to reduce complexity and simplify compliance while also meeting the requirements of onboarding and ongoing communication.

Considering that HR professionals feel like they’re having to "cobble together" different solutions to meet different needs, niche players in the HR space have an opportunity to position themselves as prime candidates for acquisition or as part of a roll-up strategy alongside complementary solutions.

Modified on Nov 15, 2021