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No-touch or hands-on? Why the pensions workforce can be both

Pension systems can put hands where they are needed most to deliver value for members. Here’s how.

Overview

According to Accenture research, pension systems believe that no-touch processing helps reserve human resources for those who need them most: 49 percent in the United States, 61 percent in the United Kingdom and 88 percent in Australia believe this to be true.1 Australia has the advantage of the most experience implementing no-touch processing.

By rethinking how work is shared among man and machine, cultivating the skills needed to deliver customer service for the digital age and creating a foundation to support employees in the no-touch processing environment, pensions systems can get the most value from the workforce.

Background

Pensions workforce demographics are changing. To achieve the mission and deliver good outcomes with the same—or fewer—resources, pension systems must refocus the workforce. No-touch processing, where intelligent IT services provide end-to-end fulfilment of customer needs, can help by removing “hands” from transactional activities, and placing them on high-value, complex work.

No-touch processing will not replace humans. Across pension systems surveyed, a majority says that over 50 percent of current processes still require significant human intervention.

Key Findings

A majority believes that to successfully adopt more no-touch processing, a combination of the right IT system and the right workforce is needed.2 Many have focused on getting the IT portion right—but what about the people portion? No-touch processing enables pension systems to deliver customer service for the digital age, but it requires some changes to workforce composition, skills and training.

Analysis
No-touch processing will not replace humans. However, it does provide opportunities to refocus humans. Across markets surveyed, a majority says that over 50 percent of current processes still require significant human intervention.3 When employees have more time to focus on those tasks that require the human touch, it will ultimately better support the agency in achieving its mission to serve pension members before and during retirement.

Recommendations



Get the most from man and machine. To get the most from IT systems and the workforce, pension systems can use analytics to identify which transactions can be automated. Transactions where humans add no value, usually because there is no subjective decision or element, should be pushed straight through to no-touch processing.

Pension systems surveyed agree that no-touch processing can help improve internal efficiency (81 percent in the US, 86 percent in the UK and 96 percent in Australia) and help with handling basic transactions (78 percent in the US, 87 percent in the UK and 97 percent in Australia).

Upskill and reskill the workforce. Moving to no-touch processing reveals opportunities to equip employees with new skills that enable them to better support the mission. For example, while no-touch requires a tech-savvy workforce, people also need soft skills as their roles evolve from transactional processing to coaching.

Pension systems in Australia (77 percent) believe that as they adopt more no-touch processing, the skill set needed among employees changes significantly. Across Australia, the UK and US, 52 percent believe employees will need to specialize in handling more complicated circumstances, such as sickness and bereavement.4

Lay the groundwork for nurturing human capital. As the pensions workforce evolves, so must the training and operating model to support that workforce. Specifically:

Training – Talent management and training should support the agency mission, and also the needs of employees.

Operating model – The shift from transactional to coaching roles for staff requires a corresponding shift in the organization, roles, management and quality metrics for an organization.


1 2015 Accenture No-Touch Processing Survey
2 IBID
3 IBID
4 IBID


Authors
Mark Jennings

Mark Jennings
EALA Human Services Industry Lead

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Owen Davies

Owen Davies
Managing Director

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