Changes on the Horizon for HR Structures, Service Delivery, Towers Watson Survey Finds


Changes on the Horizon for HR Structures, Service Delivery, Towers Watson Survey Finds

Investment in HR technology remains steady and strong

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Some big changes may be in store for corporate human resource functions within the next two years as companies around the globe face mounting pressure to improve the delivery and effectiveness of HR services, according to an annual survey by global professional services company Towers Watson (NYSE, NASDAQ: TW). The survey also revealed that companies are considering new HR technologies, will continue to invest in HR technology such as mobile applications, and plan to analyze and change their HR processes.

The 2013 HR Service Delivery and Technology Survey, a global survey of 1,025 companies, found that more than one in three respondents (36%) will make a change to their HR structure before the end of next year. Among companies changing their HR structure, nearly three-quarters (74%) are doing so to realize further operational efficiencies, while just over half (53%) are doing so to improve quality. Another 37% are seeking to achieve cost savings or pursuing a change in business strategy (34%).

Regardless of reason, organizations that are changing their HR structures are overwhelmingly moving toward shared services. Almost half (49%) are moving toward a shared services environment with HR centers of excellence and HR business partners. The survey noted that the shared services model is the most prevalent among available options, followed by organizations' intent to outsource additional functions (17%) or move to a single HR function for the entire organization (12%).

"Companies have been carefully examining both their HR structures and the way HR services are being delivered, and many have come to the same conclusion: The time is ripe for change," said Mike DiClaudio, global leader of Towers Watson's HR Service Delivery practice at Towers Watson. "Many organizations see new opportunities to increase HR's strategic contributions to the business. What is really interesting is the continued trend toward replacing core HR systems, and a willingness to invest in new technology and partners with a growing shift toward software-as-a-service."

Indeed, the survey shows that HR technology spending remains steady and strong despite cost reductions in other areas of HR. More than half of organizations (53%) indicated their investment in HR technology this year will match last year's investment levels, while more than a quarter (27%) will either increase or significantly increase their HR technology investments.

HR is also catching on to the mobile technology trend. More than 60% of respondents now provide mobile access via Smartphone to employees, and almost a quarter (24%) offer tablets. But HR-enabled applications are in their infancy: Only about one in 10 organizations currently use mobile applications for HR purposes. This trend is expected to accelerate, as 25% plan to offer HR-enabled applications in the next 12 to 18 months. However, fully half of organizations have no plans to leverage mobile applications before the end of 2014.

"Without question, HR service delivery is in a state of change, and organizations need to embrace that change as the new constant. This means they can change the game by modifying their structure, rethinking long-held processes, adopting new HR technologies and processes, and extending capabilities to the organization via manager self-service and shared services. In the end, it means using new concepts, approaches and technology to provide better HR services," said DiClaudio.

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Streamlining business processes was ranked as the primary HR service delivery issue this year, cited by 32% of respondents, followed by talent and performance management systems, and greater involvement in strategic business-driven issues, both cited by 29%.

  • Six out of 10 organizations (59%) offer an HR portal to HR and employees. Another 19% are in the process of developing an HR portal.

About the Survey

The 16th annual HR Service Delivery and Technology Survey was conducted during the first quarter of 2013. Respondents included HR and HRIT executives at 1,025 organizations from 32 countries. Two-thirds of respondents were large and midsize organizations with more than 5,000 employees.

About Towers Watson

Towers Watson (NYSE, NASDAQ: TW) is a leading global professional services company that helps organizations improve performance through effective people, risk and financial management. The company offers solutions in the areas of benefits, talent management, rewards, and risk and capital management. Towers Watson has 14,000 associates around the world and is located on the web at


Towers Watson
Ed Emerman, +1-609-275-5162
Binoli Savani, +1-703-258-7648

KEYWORDS: United States North America New York


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