Posted tagged ‘Xerox’

What are the Top Global Skill Shortages?

April 26, 2012

Even when the U.S. unemployment rate was over 10%, we’ve heard that the unemployment of skilled workers with college degrees remained low at ~4-5%, and we’ve read data on just how bad the skill shortage is, including ManpowerGroup’s findings that 52% of U.S. companies are struggling to fill key jobs. We’ve also heard from me as an analyst (and former HRO buy-side client), pointing to the fact that development and retention of talent are more paramount than ever. But not as much has been written about what are the top global skill shortages. Well not until last week when U.K.-based global recruitment and RPO provider Hays issued a good concise summary of the top ten global skill shortages.

The list divides the skills by soft skills and hard skills that are in shortage globally.

Soft Skills

  • Languages
  • People and communication
  • Team management and leadership
  • Organization.

Hard Skills

  • Financial and budgetary
  • IT
  • Green skills
  • Procurement and negotiation
  • Research and development
  • Healthcare.

Beyond being good for job candidates and employees to know the skills they need to focus on; employers need to do a better job of investing in their workforce to develop and retain the talent that they already have. In fact, employees are looking for that. Mercer’s newly released eBook, “What’s Working Around the World”, points to the fact that career advancement and training opportunities are among the top priorities of the employee value proposition in many countries and are needed to address low levels of employee engagement.

As I get ready to publish my next global learning BPO report, I am optimistic to hear that talent management focus is no longer just a desired priority but is now a business imperative. Clients are increasingly focused on learning linked to talent management, including the linkage of learning to performance management and developmental plans. To meet client needs to attract, develop, and retain talent, vendors have been developing their talent management capability. This includes MPHRO vendors such as Xerox, Aon Hewitt, Talent2, IBM, and Accenture, whose talent management offering includes workforce forecasting and analytics, recruitment, performance management, succession planning, and learning.

In the report, I also wrote about the advent of social learning. For now, I’ll just say that speed to competence, followed by how the new generation of employees that are entering the workforce wants to learn, as well as the need for improved talent management, are what’s driving the acceleration of social learning.

If you are not already following me on Twitter, please do so at @GaryB_NH as I will tweet when the LBPO report is published. I’m targeting the 30th of April, in time for my presentation at the HRO Today Forum on May 1st titled State of the Learning BPO Marketplace and the Emergence of Social Learning.

Gary Bragar, HRO Research Director, NelsonHall.

Interested in reading the latest HRO news from NelsonHall? Subscribe to our newsletter by emailing amy.gurchensky@nelson-hall.com with “HRO Insight” as the subject.

U.S. Jobs Grow – How Will It Impact HRO

February 7, 2012

By now, most have heard last Friday’s favorable jobs news.

In the U.S., 243,000 jobs were added in January, bringing the unemployment rate down to 8.3%, and as noted on one of the staffing provider’s earnings calls last week, down to 4.2% for college graduates. Government jobs have contracted as expected, while the private sector had the gains in the services industry, specifically in leisure, hospitality, education, healthcare, and retail, and in manufacturing, including construction.

Also last February 3, Randstad reported a five-point rise in its U.S. Employee Confidence Index.  The index measures the workers’ confidence in their personal employment situation and optimism in the economic environment. This is the biggest increase since the survey started seven years ago.

With good reason to be optimistic, many RPO providers are realizing the gains with increased hiring volumes by existing clients. Even before this welcome employment news, 2011 had been a good year for HRO. In RPO, many vendors achieved significant growth, including Kelly OCG, whose RPO revenue was up 40% year-over-year from 2010; Pinstripe was up 58% y-o-y with 21 new contracts and extensions; and for Q4, Kenexa reported an RPO growth of 54% y-o-y.

But the benefits go far beyond RPO. Increased hiring bodes well for providers of payroll, benefits, and learning as the number of employees they serve increases. For example, ADP, who already pays 1 of 6 U.S. employees, announced the number of employees on its U.S. client payroll increased by 2.8% in fiscal Q2 2012, for the period ending December 31, 2011. Benefits administration providers including Aon Hewitt, Fidelity, and Mercer reported numerous contract awards in 2011. In MPHRO, in North America, ADP won several new contracts, while IBM was awarded a large MPHRO contract with Air Canada and NorthgateArinso awarded a seven-year MPHRO renewal by Fifth Third Bank. In learning, vendors including Raytheon, Xerox, and Accenture won several contracts. There are more updates to follow on learning as NelsonHall is currently conducting a global learning BPO market analysis.

However, a few words of caution by ManpowerGroup were given last February 3 that demand is expected to continue to fluctuate and it would be prudent for employers to adopt flexible workforce models that include: full-time, contingent, and virtual-skilled workers to ensure productivity.

There are a few key implications here:

  • Providers who haven’t yet provided recruitment services that include RPO, MSP, and Contingent Workforce services would be prudent to evaluate doing so and/or consider partnering with a vendor that does
  • Given the ManpowerGroup statistic that 52% of U.S. companies are struggling to fill key jobs, focus on the development and retention of talent is more paramount than ever. Buy-side organizations should be continuously monitoring employee satisfaction, reviewing attrition rates, conducting exit interviews to find out why people leave, and developing action plans to improve organizational effectiveness. If buyers do not have this capability, they may want to consider a talent management vendor who can help them, which has become a key HRO vendor focus and for good reason!

Gary Bragar, HRO Research Director, NelsonHall

Interested in reading the latest HRO news from NelsonHall? Subscribe to our newsletter by emailing amy.gurchensky@nelson-hall.com with “HRO Insight” as the subject.

Health Savings Accounts on the Rise

November 29, 2011

The utilization of health savings accounts (HSAs) is rising, creating a win-win for employees, employers, and HRO benefits providers. Let’s take a look at the results of two recent studies to find out why.

Buck Consultants conducted a survey (http://bit.ly/uu10es), commissioned by its parent, ACS, A Xerox Company, which revealed that HSAs are not only saving employers and consumers money, but also helping employees (and retirees) make better decisions about their healthcare. Consumers of HSAs are putting aside more money for potential medical costs than they did before (69% of those enrolled in High Deductible Health Plans [HDHPs] contributed an average of $1,000 to their HSA accounts  for individual coverage, and $1,500 for family coverage). They are also engaging in healthier lifestyle choices and doing more research for preventative care. Employers report that the cost of providing an HSA-qualified plan is less than that of a standard Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan. You might be thinking, this is good for the employer, but what does the employee think? Well, 72% of account holders chose the HSA-qualified plan even though they had other plan options, and 82% said their selection was based on the ability to save tax-free money.

According to the results of a survey released by Mercer (http://bit.ly/vZiiFL), due to the rising cost of healthcare plans and cost per employee, employers are taking action to try and keep costs down, e.g. nearly a third with 500 or more employees offer consumer-driven health plans, i.e. HDHPs linked to HSAs or health reimbursement accounts, up from <25% in 2010. Because of the high deductible to the employee, they cost less than other plans, around 20% less per employee than a PPO.

Here are two examples of leading benefits administration vendors helping their clients:

  • ACS, one of the first providers to implement an HSA in 2004, has 25,000 employer implementations and $1 billion in HSA assets
  • In 2010, Fidelity increased its number of HSA clients by >50% while adding 22,000 new indiviudal HSA accounts.

Providers can help with further education. Focusing on employees, I myself did not understand HSAs at first. I’m in my fourth year of having an HSA combined with my HDHP. First, let me say that I’m not the HSA spokesperson and there are pros and cons to any plan that need to be evaluated on an individual basis. The upside for those not familiar – speaking for my HDHP consumer-driven health plan I opened an HSA with – is that there are no co-pays and no forms to fill out. Preventative care is free, e.g. annual physicals. So if you are healthy, there are no costs except your monthly premium. But if you do get sick and need to go to the doctor, you pay out of pocket until the annual deductible is met, then in-network pays a high percentage until you reach your annual yearly max—that just happens to be approximately the same as the annual max I can contribute to my HSA; and like an IRA, the amount you contribute is deductible on your income tax.

HRO providers that can help clients navigate through the intricacies of healthcare will be greatly valued!

Gary Bragar, HRO Research Director, NelsonHall

Interested in reading the latest HRO news from NelsonHall? Subscribe to our newsletter by emailing amy.gurchensky@nelson-hall.com with “HRO Insight” as the subject.

First Year+ Strong for ACS, a Xerox Company

September 9, 2011

With a year and a half passing since Xerox acquired ACS, Xerox has appropriately defined its new tagline: “Services-Led, Technology-Driven” with revenues roughly split equally between its Services segment and its Technology segment. Of Xerox Services, BPO is leading, accounting for 55% of revenues. The remainder of its Services revenue is ITO (12%) and DO (32%).

Within BPO, its four segments are HR, F&A, customer care, and transaction processing. Focusing on HR specifically, ACS is doing well according to information shared at yesterday’s Industry Analyst Meeting in NYC.  In total, the company has secured 44 HR services deals in the past 18 months.  Its first HRO deal since the acquisition was closed was a 5 year H&W services contract with P&G in March 2010.  

Some recent HRO highlights include signing a long-term TBO contract with a wireless telecommunications company, winning its largest ever learning services contract with a pharmaceutical company, and leveraging the ACS and Xerox relationship to win a multi-process HR outsourcing (MPHRO) contract from a competitor. 

Serving more than 11m employees and retirees worldwide, the company is focused on “consumer-driven solutions” or viewing the client employee as the end-consumer.  Part of this initiative includes its client collaboration group, FutureThink, which began piloting last year and has recently expanded. 

Its plans for geographic expansion are ripening.  The company has made great progress with its first target, Europe, with revenues increasing 10% and pipeline growth up more than 100%.  Approximately 90% of this pipeline improvement is the result of Xerox synergy.  Another positive is a recent MPHRO win from this region. 

Aside from Europe, ACS is targeting Latin America, specifically Brazil and Mexico, and Asia.  In Latin America, the company has a good market presence due to its acquisition of ExcellerateHRO last year. 

Additional acquisitions and partnerships can’t be ruled out either, especially for building out service capabilities.  Finally, to support all this growth, ACS has made investments in CRM, expanding its India and Malaysia centers.

Eighteen months since the acquisition has closed, Xerox has demonstrated a successful integration of ACS and signs are pointing to a positive future for HR services.

Amy L. Gurchensky, Research Analyst, HRO, NelsonHall

Learning Services Acquisition Frenzy

March 17, 2011

Last year, we wrote quite a bit about all of the M&A activity in benefits administration including:

  • Towers Perrin and Watson Wyatt completing its merger to become Towers Watson
  • ACS, a Xerox Company acquiring ExcellerateHRO
  • ADP acquiring Workscape
  • Aon acquiring Hewitt to become Aon Hewitt
  • Other acquisitions made by vendors including Mercer, Xafinity, and Capita.

Will learning be the next HR service area abundant in acquisitions?  Although we have seen learning services acquisitions in the past, including ACS acquiring Intellinex in 2006, and will likely continue to see more in the future, I don’t believe we will see any in learning that are equivalent in scale to the large benefits acquisitions.  However, if there was an award for the number of acquisitions in a short period of time, it would have to go to General Physics Corporation (GP). On March 10th, GP acquired RWD Technologies for $28m, its 8th acquisition in the past 18 months.  RWD is based in the U.S. near GP in Baltimore and has three additional U.S. locations as well as offices in the U.K. and Colombia.

GP got RWD at a bargain since RWD’s consulting revenues were $65m in 2010.  RWD was hit hard by the recession and GP came along at the right time with cash on hand.  As a result of the acquisition, GP inherits RWD’s IT learning expertise, where it had little prior experience.  The acquisition also strengthens GP in the petroleum, manufacturing, and automotive sectors.

Last month, GP acquired Communication Consulting to expand delivery of its training services in China.  GP’s other acquisitions were made in the U.S. and U.K. between September 2009 and December 2010.

GP’s 2010 revenues were $259.9m, an increase of 18.6% compared to 2009.  Growth was attributed to increased volumes from existing clients, new contract awards, and its acquisitions, which had the greatest impact.

Moving forward, what will happen?  Well for one thing, don’t count GP out from making future acquisitions.  GP still has ~$35m in revolving credit after the RWD deal and has stated that they will continue to seek acquisitions to grow globally.  However, with so many acquisitions, GP now faces the challenge of creating an integrated client experience and cross-selling into the strengths of these acquired companies to continue its rapid pace of growth.

It will be interesting to watch as things unfold this year.  In the meantime, we can finally put to rest the question “what’s happening with RWD”.

Gary Bragar, Lead HRO Analyst, NelsonHall

The Yellow Brick Road to Financial Growth in Benefits Outsourcing

March 10, 2011

There are a variety of ways to grow HRO service provider income. Well-traveled roads include winning new clients or expanding services with existing clients. Another avenue is to cross-leverage consulting and outsourcing to build revenues for other service lines. Now, a new path has emerged and it looks like a yellow brick road to generating revenues: provide advisory services directly to defined contribution (DC) plan participants and not just to the plan sponsors.

According to The Financial Engines National 401(k) Evaluation report, approximately three out of four participants are not on track to comfortably retire by age 65 (i.e., they can’t replace 70% of their pre-retirement income with their 401(k) and social security). In addition, 34% do not have diversified portfolios and/or have inappropriate risk levels and 39% of participants do not contribute enough to even receive the full employer match. With DC plans replacing traditional pension plans for many employees, effective participation has taken on increased importance.

Participant DC service options were greatly expanded by the Department of Labor’s regulations, starting with the Pension Plan Act of 2006. Now, DC plans can offer automatic enrollment into qualified default investment alternatives, automatic saving escalations, and investment advisory services. Great, but the regulations are complex and are still being clarified and there are fiduciary responsibilities that must be addressed to provide a safe harbor to the plan sponsors and appropriate protections for the advisors. For BAO providers who have the expertise and fear not to tread on a road still under a bit of construction, this is a growth opportunity.

Amy Gurchensky, one of my NelsonHall HRO colleagues, just added tracking service coverage of Aon Hewitt’s new integrated advisory offering for its DC plan participants through its subsidiary, Aon Hewitt Financial Advisors. Aon Hewitt continues to expand its wealth management and retirement financial services for employers and participants. In 2010, before the merger with Aon Consulting, Hewitt had acquired the investment advisory firm EnnisKnupp.

Aon Hewitt selected Financial Engines to be the sub-advisor and provider of the advisory platform. As Amy notes in her analysis, Financial Engines also provides services for ACS, a Xerox Company, Fidelity, Mercer and others like ING and J.P. Morgan. It is important then that Aon Hewitt is wrapping the standard third party offering in with its own materials so it will be able to extend a new service bundle that creates differentiation.

The bulk of retirement investment consulting revenues will continue to come from services to the plan sponsors, but adding a new road to growth in ancillary services is valuable and this one looks particularly golden. Given the millions of participants with the major BAO players, participant investment services will be a valuable win-win for the employers, participants, and service providers.

Linda Merritt, Research Director, HRO, NelsonHall

Differentiating HRO – Use What You Know

February 16, 2011

How many ways can a HRO vendor differentiate?  The lowest total cost, the latest and greatest in technology, the broadest range of services in the most places, etc.?  When there are multiple reputable service providers, vendors have to reach further to create HRO differentiation.

In the early days of HRO, it was sufficient for a vendor to provide services that were as good as what had been provided in-house, becoming the base of most service levels (SLAs).  HRO vendors quickly found that meeting SLAs did not equate to overall client satisfaction, with clients stating that while they may have been getting what they contracted for, they were not getting what they wanted or needed.

Today, “as good as” is not good enough.  HRO service providers need to know more than the client in each service area.  Knowing more may be in the form of compliance and reporting expertise, local knowledge of covered geographies, advanced application use, or even change management expertise.  Client confidence that the selected vendor does indeed “know how” is important.  Confidence that the vendor will be a partner in what happens next is even rarer and is a key differentiator that top tier HR clients seek.

Times of uncertainty create opportunity to build client confidence with your ability to see around corners or at least keep up with the twists and turns.  Consulting capabilities are particularly important in HR.  But, even top consulting capabilities will not build the HRO practice if there is no flow-through of learning and innovation as well as improved process and performance.

Many HRO service providers with roots in consulting offer forward-looking research, publications, webinars, and even conferences to help clients keep up with best practices, new trends, and regulatory happenings, all while demonstrating thought leadership and subject matter expertise.  Many names come easily to mind including Accenture, ADP, Aon Hewitt, Ceridian, IBM, and Mercer.

For example, Towers Watson has published human capital research and recently released its latest HR services report.  Kenexa’s client conferences also offer sessions of broader related HR practitioner interest.  Finally, Infosys provides a good example of application expertise and consultative relationship management when it brings tailored ideas to clients on how they can improve their processes.

Vendors that offer multiple service lines or are an industry leader in a particular area can cross data streams.  Think of ADP’s weekly report on employment or Administaff who has PEO trends that show which U.S. regions are leading and lagging in returning to growth for the small business market.  Also, ACS, a Xerox Company and IBM support client interaction opportunities that can lead to innovation communities.

How can data from IT, F&A, or even Ceridian’s Pulse of Commerce Index be tapped for HRO?  Think about how you can go beyond the obvious and use everything in your kit bag to develop leverageable and differentiating HR and HRO insights.

Linda Merritt, Research Director, HRO, NelsonHall