31. oktober 2023

Learn how to balance a digital future and employee well-being

OpenUp Blog 1/3

For the last couple of years, the digitisation of HR has been one of the main priorities within organisations. And even though this brings many benefits, there are also some challenges to keep in mind. One of them is the well-being of your employees. You may create an environment where employees can work more efficiently, and work more hybridly. But you want to make sure not to lose the human touch.

To give you an answer on how you can make the combination of digitising HR and maintaining a high employee well-being, Personio reached out to OpenUp, a 360° platform for mental well-being. Together, we give you an answer on the current challenges you face when combining a digital future and employee well-being – in order to make sure engagement remains at a high level, and to discover ways to cope with the fear of replacement.

The benefits of a digital future

Let’s start with the elephant in the room. Why digitise your work environment in the first place? The main reason is to boost HR’s productivity and efficiency. By automating daily administrative tasks, your HR team saves several hours per week. Time they can put into work that truly matters. Some examples are the personal development of your employees, and strategic work for C-suite.

Another benefit is the boost of data-driven working. Collecting, analysing, and interpreting data successfully can lead to massive improvements. Let’s take recruitment as an example. Data analytics enables you to predict which candidates are most likely to succeed in specific roles, which channels are most effective for hiring, and optimising job descriptions to attract the best candidates.

The enhancement of the employee experience is another huge benefit. New digitals tools make online communication easier, as well as working in teams, and working hybrid. In addition, modern HR platforms provide portals where employees can easily access stuff like personal information, and training materials.

Challenges within HR digitisation

While these are all great benefits, there is a catch. There are some challenges for employees to maintain their well-being during HR digitisation. We asked Judith Klenter, psychologist at OpenUp, which three factors most stand out for them, and these are her findings.


By spending more time online - and potentially working more hybridly - there can be a disconnect between an employee and their colleagues in the long-term by not seeing each other regularly. This especially applies to employees who don’t have a strong social network outside of work. Examples are expats and people who live by themselves.

These employees may long for a job in the “physical world” and be able to - literally - be in touch with their work, colleagues, or spend more time outside. 

Online fatigue

Having online meetings can be pretty demanding. Even more so than the ones being held face-to-face. According to BBC Worklife, this has to do with processing non-verbal cues. This includes facial expressions, body language and someone’s tone of voice. But that’s not all. You’re also more aware of your own appearance and potential silences. This type of social awareness can be more stressful to your own body.


By stepping up HR’s digitisation, there is also a fear at employees of becoming unneeded by the employer, and therefore losing their job. Even when this is not the case, it can still play a role in the back of someone’s head. This may also affect how willing employees are to further digitise their own workplace.

AI’s development

Ever since late 2022, AI has been on the rise in ways we wouldn’t be able to predict a few years ago. Tools like ChatGPT and Midjourney are growing at an unexpectedly high pace.

While this opens up many doors and opportunities, it also stirs up the fear of replacement. According to Personio’s recent HR survey, almost 60% of HR managers have a fear of losing their jobs, due to HR functions being taken over by AI.

Judith of OpenUp is very clear about this. To her and her psychologist colleagues, it’s not a matter of taking away the fear. However, there are ways to cope with AI in the workplace, in the first place by identifying your fear. “Are you afraid of AI becoming ‘better’ than you at your work, is it about losing your job, not being able to keep up with the latest technologies, or about your job losing the human touch?”

“Then, look at your needs. For example, discuss your concerns with your team and come up with a plan, get a better understanding of AI, and educate yourself about it. Acknowledge that we can’t predict the future and that your fear is here for a reason, such as protection and a motivating to learn more about AI. Because we also don’t know exactly what impact AI and digitalization will have on the future of our jobs. By focusing only on ways to take away fear you could give the impression of not acknowledging that there is indeed a big change coming.” 

What can HR do?

There are a number of ways in which HR can make sure the employees well-being remains at a high level during digitisation. One of them is making sure employees don’t feel like they are just a number. Regularly check in with them and get to know them on a personal level.

Make sure to listen to their needs and own personal challenges. If you acknowledge them, and are even able to provide them with possible solutions, they feel both seen and valued.

Another relevant topic is the use of social activities. Make sure to have them on a regular basis, where everyone is invited to join. Team building activities where members then connect over something that’s unrelated to their work.

Other useful tips are to check employees’ time management, and work routine, suggest working hybrid only a few days per week, and create a safe space where they can share their own challenges.

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