Five truths about HR tools for next-level EX 

Multiracial contemporary business people working connected with technological devices like tablet and laptop, talking together - finance, business, technology concept    
Multiracial contemporary business people working connected with technological devices like tablet and laptop, talking together - finance, business, technology concept     

At its best, HR software brings employers and talent together for a brighter employee experience (EX). It sets the tone for the moments that matter in people’s lives, from health scares to job offers to paydays.

HR technology can also eliminate red tape and busy work in the HR function, allowing for more strategic work and transparency. This helps organizations deliver the benefits, culture, and growth laid out in the Employee Value Proposition (EVP). 

But on their own, many HR platforms don’t provide the consumer-grade, digital feel that people have come to expect outside of work. For instance, less than two-thirds of employees feel their HR tech experience at work is seamless. This is a huge problem for retention, since employees who aren’t energized are two times more likely to quit — and dealing with clunky tech can be exhausting!

Even with the right tools, making the most of them takes careful planning and implementation. Is your tech stack causing more ughs than ahhs? Here are five myths about HR software that could be holding you back and the five truths that counter these myths to fuel next-level EX.

Myth #1: The more HR software, the better

There’s no shortage of HR tools on the market. Most of these platforms are suites that do more than one thing, and there’s often some overlap for these capabilities across products.

It’s natural to choose the tools that best suit your needs today — but as those needs evolve and you keep adding new platforms, you’ll soon be sitting on disjointed products with no clear sense of where to go, and when. 

Yet having unique software makes sense sometimes, particularly for more complex and highly specific tasks such as benefits administration. For example, 86% of employers with centralized specialist benefits software feel agile enough to deliver on their benefits strategy. If integrated appropriately, this separate offering can improve EX.

Truth: Tech’s impact on EX is greater than the sum of its parts

To avoid the stress and confusion of digital clutter, design your HR tech stack with target personas (i.e., your employees) in mind. The actual number of tools is less important than making thoughtful, deliberate decisions that streamline HR processes. Consider using a front-end portal that provides easy access to all your platforms.

Myth #2: HR software is easy to use

Countless marketing blogs tout how easy it is to use the HR tools they promote. That’s not always the case, particularly for employees who don’t routinely use these platforms. In fact, just 62% of contributors agree that their employers’ benefits technology is easy to use. Luckily, there’s a range of solutions to gauge and improve HR tech usability.

Truth: HR tools’ ease and EX are in the eye of the user

What do employees think of the new tools you’re considering? Try running surveys, assessing net promoter scores, or commissioning a technology audit before you deploy them. As part of your audit, test the look and feel on different devices — desktop, mobile, tablet — to ensure these systems are user-friendly. From there, provide training to accelerate usability and adoption. 

Myth #3: Certain employees won’t use digital HR tools

You’d be surprised how often we hear that blue-collar workers and older employees lack the skills or desire to access their payroll, retirement, and paid time off (PTO) details all on one screen. And, guess what? We’re not buying it. Especially since only 15% of Baby Boomers cite technological change as a burnout factor. To paraphrase our colleagues at Mercer Leapgen, the tech experience year outside is 2023 — what year is it inside your company?

Truth: Those who can, will; those who can’t, can be taught

To be clear, not every employee is fully prepared to embrace HR technology. Again, not all platforms are easy to use, and you might find some pushback or skills gaps along the way. But with the right investments in upskilling, change management, and human-centric design, all employees can benefit from the journey. Mobile apps and on-site terminals can also help ensure access for all.

Myth #4: HR technology will replace the human touch

This is a common fear that transcends HR given the rise of AI and automation. It’s true that digitalizing HR will impact roles and responsibilities. It might also shift some duties from HR to business managers. But technology doesn’t always lead to a reduction, and it certainly won’t replace the human touch in HR.

Truth: Software makes HR less hectic, more human

Embracing HR technology is so much more than a cost savings play. Automating tasks and streamlining functions can enhance and support human interaction, freeing up HR from administrative work to focus on more strategic and human-centric activities. Expect to see more opportunities in talent management, employee engagement, and strategic planning for HR professionals.

Employers can set up an enablement plan that covers upskilling, reskilling, and job redesign for HR professionals who are focused solely on administrative tasks. Clear communication and setting expectations will go a long way toward building a sense of psychological safety for those most likely to be affected.

Myth #5: Digital tools can transform HR on their own

Despite everything HR software can do, it can’t transform the HR function on its own. HR tools are just that — tools — and as software engineer Grady Booch once put it, “a fool with a tool is still a fool.” You can digitalize bad processes, but all you’ll get from your effort is bad digital processes. So, can technology help you be transformative — a goal that Mercer clients often aspire to?

Truth: HR transformation is EX-focused and tech-enabled

In truth, this work can go in many directions. It’s better to first conduct workshops and listening tours to develop a transformation ambition: the specific areas where you want to innovate. From there, map your goals to a maturity curve and make plans to slowly progress along it.

Armed with a clear understanding of the employee journeys you want to transform, like recruiting or internal mobility, you can combine HR technology with organizational transformation, human-centered design, and change management to deliver EX that inspires.

What to look for in HR systems

Mercer often runs HR technology audits for clients. Here’s some of what we typically recommend in HR platforms:

  • Consistency across platforms and tools, including the look, feel, and tone
  • Personalization features like customizable profiles, dashboards, and data feeds
  • Simplified experience through use of a single point of entry and data connections
  • Social channels such as text messaging and live chat
  • Engaging content, including videos and gamification
  • AI-powered assistants for Q&A
  • Nonstop, secure access from any device
  • Internal communication tools
  • Data analytics and tracking


We’ve busted five HR software myths here, but there’s one final truth: whether you own it or not, EX is happening. It comes through where employees’ lives intersect with your business and can greatly impact your most important resource: your people.

Equip your people with the intuitive, consumer-grade treatment they crave and they’ll keep coming back for more. Send them down a rabbit hole of password resets and blocked pop-ups just to check their PTO balance and watch them head for the exits.

Bring your HR tech stack into the present, and learn how to design a digital EX that people want — contact a Mercer consultant, or check out Mercer Belong and Darwin.

About the author(s)
Deena Harvanek

US Change and Communication Solutions Leader

Amy Laverock
Stephanie Brunermer

Principal, Mercer Marsh Benefits Global Research and Solutions

Lynsey Hathcock

Principal, Mercer | Leapgen Digital Transformation Consultant

Queenie Chan

Solution Design Lead at Mercer

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