HR tech’s role in a coronavirus-era employee experience

Employees will come through these challenging times with new understandings about how to work more effectively, says this 2020 HR Tech Influencer.
By: | June 17, 2020 • 5 min read

For longtime human-experience management (HXM) developer Meg Bear, the global coronavirus pandemic has made many HR-tech trends that were starting to gain traction a reality, literally overnight.

“The ‘new normal’ for millions of people is transitioning to remote work,” says Bear, who joined SAP SuccessFactors in October as senior vice president of products with a focus on HXM solutions and was recently promoted to senior vice president of products, engineering and operations. “For this to be successful, employees and teams need the resources to help them feel safe, supported and equipped to do their jobs well—while also providing community, clarity and connection.”

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That’s where HR tech will play a huge role—by supporting employee wellbeing, helping employees continue to grow and guiding them during moments of change, she says. New HR listening and collaboration tools also will play a vital role in helping organizations get feedback from employees and help HR understand the sentiments behind them.

“With this understanding, organizations can make more ‘in-the-moment’ decisions that are people-centric,” Bear, one of HRE‘s top 100 HR Tech Influencers, notes.

In addition, learning platforms will continue to play an important role as organizations look to reskill employees.

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Ultimately, Bear says, employees will come through these challenging times with new understandings about how to work more effectively.

“We are all learning new ways to be collaborative, supportive and agile as teams and organizations—and we’ll take those learnings with us moving forward,” Bear said during an interview in April.

At SAP, Bear is responsible for setting product vision, leading product strategy, and driving engineering and operations success for SAP SuccessFactors’ HXM suite.

Prior to joining SAP, Bear was senior vice president of product and engineering at Juvo, a financial-services company that employs data science, machine learning and game mechanics to create financial identities for mobile subscribers. Before that, she was general manager of cloud services for cybersecurity firm Imperva and spent 11 years at Oracle, holding various leadership positions in HCM and customer experience. She also held several engineering and product leadership roles at PeopleSoft and Saba Software. She has a bachelor’s degree in economics and entrepreneurship from the University of Arizona.

During her almost three decades of experience, she has created six technology patents (with five pending) and has been a keynote speaker, a TEDx host, an advocate for women in technology and a mentor.

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Bear describes herself as “passionate about applying technology to solve business problems, building and growing teams, and defining product strategies that are customer-centric and innovative. I leverage market and technology shifts to build innovative solutions for customers.

“My goal is to make work better,” she adds.

In that vein, Bear sees employee experience (EX) continuing a trajectory that tech can support.

“Providing an exceptional employee experience requires the right tools and visibility into employees’ workplace, as well as life experiences, so HR leaders can preemptively uncover and address problems,” she says. “Business leaders are beginning to recognize that optimizing their employees’ experience is key to business success. This success comes in the form of notably higher engagement, productivity, increased revenue and less turnover. Simply put, better employee experience means better business outcomes.”

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Plus, Bear says, putting employees and their EX first means companies can make diversity and inclusion, employee wellness and wellbeing, and sustainability front and center.

“It’s more than talk,” she adds. “Companies are taking action. For example, prioritizing sustainability across the business requires leadership that is focused on combining economic performance, environmental protection and social responsibility. Taking a stance on these issues is impactful for employee brand advocacy and for helping employees feel a sense of purpose within the company.”

She also sees employers continuing to invest in employee upskilling and reskilling. “When organizations maximize the skills and capabilities of their employees,” she says, “it enables employees to contribute to the broader business.”

The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting both immediate and long-term challenges for employers, Bear says, and they will largely shape the future of the HR-tech industry.

“We are in an unprecedented, challenging time,” she says. “I feel strongly that this is an opportunity for HR to be leaders of change. Organizations of all sizes are figuring out how they can maintain their business operations while taking care of their people—and HR understands both.”

Find more on employee experience here 

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Luckily, HR teams that have made significant investments in digital transformation over the past several years have an advantage: They can engage employees and check in on how they are doing, enable learning programs to foster new skills, promote wellbeing, analyze people data and more, no matter where they are working.

“HR has the opportunity to demonstrate how important these technologies are in maintaining business continuity while also supporting employees in times of change,” Bear says.

“As we move forward and experience the broader impacts to the global economy and how workforces operate, agility and flexibility will be at the heart of HR-technology innovation,” she concludes. “Human-experience management will become increasingly important in supporting workforces that are more remote and incorporating employees’ holistic wellbeing.”

Maura Ciccarelli is freelance writer based in Southeastern Pennsylvania. She can be reached at hreletters@lrp.com.