A record 68% of British companies are investing in digital HR solutions, new research from SD Worx, the leading European HR solutions provider, has found. The fast-rising adoption of HR tech across businesses now puts the UK in pole position in HR technology compared with Europe as a whole (60%).

SD Worx surveyed 4,833 employers and 16,011 employees in sixteen European countries, including the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Belgium to fully understand emerging workplace attitudes and expectations when it comes to HR technology.

The findings reveal a new emphasis on optimising the digital work environment as businesses increasingly lean into HR tech to promote productivity and employee wellbeing. This is alongside the need to rise to new tech standards and demand from digital-native workforces. However, despite a growing appetite for digitalisation amongst businesses, more than a third of employees (37%) are struggling to wrap their heads around how to use digital tools effectively – leaving many employees in the dark when it comes to reaping the benefits of these updates.

The shift in mindset

The business landscape has experienced a seismic shift in mindset when it comes to the digitalisation of HR technology. In previous years, companies leveraged digitalisation to benefit their personnel departments, focusing on process-based HR technology to support automation within the company. This automation consisted of streamlining tasks such as document management, internal communication, payroll, communication about payroll, and time and attendance management.

However, in today’s hybrid working world businesses are having to shape shift to deliver against new fixed working demands and expectations from workforces. Companies now want to transition to a ‘people centric’ approach – investing in applications that benefit individual employees. Turning to automation to help support training and development, collaboration and teamwork, and also employee wellbeing.

Despite this change in mindset there is still progress to be made, with 40% of organisations considering their process-oriented applications to be more mature and advanced in comparison to the 30% who say this about their employee-oriented applications.

Bridging the gaps in employee knowledge

With nearly two-fifths (37%) of employees finding it hard to understand and use new digital approaches, employers have a vital role to play in education.

To combat this confusion and optimise employees’ digital experiences, many companies are leaning into tools such as on-site training, employee-oriented HR applications, and integration of systems to help grow employees’ confidence when working with digital tools, with more than a third of companies training employees in digital experiences.

Businesses in the UK and Switzerland are ahead of the curve in this race, leading in terms of their investments in HR digitalisation and training (68%), swiftly followed by the Spanish at 66%. However, while 64% of employees feel they have sufficient digital resources available to them to work efficiently, one in three employees still struggle to keep up with digitalisation. This is most apparent among employees in Denmark (41%), Ireland (40%) and Croatia (40%).

Rachel Clough, UK Country Lead at SD Worx, comments: “In the modern working world, businesses have moved at speed and with purpose to deliver HR solutions fit to boost everything from business outcomes, to employee wellbeing and personal productivity. However, when it comes to utilising digitalised HR processes for individual employees, many businesses are missing a fundamental factor – education.

“Not all employees in the workplace are digitally native, nor is every employee a ‘computer whiz’, so despite digitialisation being able to support employees in many of their day-to-day tasks, without the knowledge and education on how to use this tech, they are missing out on the benefits of a streamlined and efficient HR platform.

“The call to action is clear – businesses need to leverage this technology to support vital functions such as training and personal development, but also must ensure that all employees are educated on how to use the tech in order to reap the benefits.”