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Trending Now in HR Services


As H1 2017 comes to a close, it’s a good time to reflect on recent key activity and where the market is headed for the rest of the year and beyond. Here, I round up what’s trending now in payroll, benefits administration, recruitment, and learning.


The most common theme in the payroll market is global and multi-country activity. NelsonHall estimates that multi-country payroll will grow 4x the rate of single-country payroll services through 2020, accounting for nearly a quarter of the market. Supporting this prediction were several new contract awards, including Neeyamo signing a contract with a global CPG company headquartered in the U.K., with payroll delivery extending to ~60 countries across six continents; and Ramco signing a multi-million dollar HCM and global payroll contract with Panasonic Group for ~20k employees across 21 entities.

In anticipation of the multi-country trend, some regional payroll providers made acquisitions to increase their presence and expand their geographic footprint. For example, Nordic-based Zalaris acquired Sumarum AG to expand its capabilities in Germany to better serve MNCs, and its geographic expansion plans aren’t ending there. Australia-based Ascender was also on a roll, acquiring NGA HR’s Australia and New Zealand payroll business, including NGA’s proprietary Preceda and PS Enterprise platforms, as well as Japan-based Workcloud; both acquisitions help to facilitate Ascender’s 2020 strategy to be a leader in payroll in the APAC region.

Benefits Administration

In benefits administration, the focus is centered on the employee experience, including education, integration, and connectivity. A recent survey by T. Rowe Price found that plan sponsors believe they have a duty to help prepare their employees for retirement, and that ~48% have a metric to track the retirement preparedness of employees. Currently, many DC administration vendors have implemented initiatives focused on education to ensure retirement readiness, and these programs are now expanding to address other financial issues such as budgeting and student loan debt management, with targeted messaging for participants based on their situation and goals. The objective will continue to push towards total financial wellness for participants throughout their lives.

To date, initiatives around integrating health and wealth have largely focused on offering retirement plan participants access to HSAs to help individuals prepare for healthcare expenses in retirement.  Since 2010, Fidelity’s HSA administration offering has experienced double-digit growth y/y, and over an 18 month period, Fidelity added ~65 new employer HSA clients, representing ~181k participants.

Empower Retirement is the latest plan administrator to add such an offering, partnering with Optum to launch The Empower Health Savings Account, which includes:

  • Access to investment advice
  • Health plan selection and enrollment
  • Retirement plan management
  • Inclusion of wellness programs and health savings account management.

The next phase of integrating health and wealth together will likely focus on the annual enrollment process, and include helping participants view the impact of their choices so better decisions about trade-offs can be made. 

Finally, a big part of the employee experience is providing access to benefits information on mobile devices and increasing functionality on mobile devices. In H1, Businessolver joined other vendors with the launch of its mobile app, MyChoice, which allows users to:

  • View their current and future benefits elections for medical, dental, vision, voluntary, and supplemental plans
  • View medical savings account balances
  • Upload their medical ID cards and benefit documents for dependent verification
  • Receive reminders via push-alerts
  • Chat with a representative to answer general benefits questions.


In recruitment, the focus is shifting towards total workforce services by offering blended RPO and MSP services to organizations. Traditionally, services for the contingent workforce were offered separately from RPO. In anticipation of demand for total talent management services, supplier strategies vary, from adding MSP services to reorganizing portfolios (as was the case for TrueBlue, who transitioned its MSP business from Staff Management | SMX to PeopleScout).

Recruitment continues to be an area for strong growth, as evidenced by delivery expansions in H1, including:

  • Allegis Global Solutions opening a recruitment services delivery center in central Birmingham, U.K.
  • Alexander Mann Solutions opening an expanded global client service center in Shanghai
  • Pontoon opening a new office in Bangalore
  • Korn Ferry Futurestep opening a European talent delivery center in Manchester, U.K.


Not only is there increasing pressure to making training programs more effective, many corporate L&D departments are facing mounting pressure to demonstrate the impact of training on the bottom line. Many vendors have responded by organizing learning BPS offerings around specific performance improvement objectives, including:

  • Strategic transformation
  • Revenue and competency
  • Compliance
  • Cost reduction
  • Learner engagement.

Learning developments will consequently be made depending on a vendor’s core performance objective focus. For example, with respect to the learner engagement objective, Raytheon Professional Services has built a number of electronic performance support systems (EPSS) for clients to improve performance and productivity by coaching employees through tasks.

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