“In the end, an organization is nothing more than the collective capacity of its people to create value.” Louis Gerstner, former CEO, IBM
During the last 12 months, enterprises of all types have focused heavily on their workforce’s well-being and the virtualization of work and services. Companies and public sector organizations have converted to work-from-home where possible, providing digital tools, support, and elevated services for health and safety. Employers have recognized with renewed urgency that people are the key asset in creating and delivering products and services, and the physical and mental health of employees is key to sustaining business activity and enabling business recovery and growth. In our rapidly changing work environment, HR analytics plays an increasingly vital role, with implications for corporate strategy and the use of workforce insight to manage talent and create value.
“Many organizations are planning for multiple scenarios and time horizons as they shift from crisis response to recovery and growth.”(Deloitte Workbook: Workforce strategies for a post-COVID-19 recovery) Depending on a variety of factors, companies may make remote work permanent, return people to a workplace, or employ a mix of both. Some may aggressively add staff to accommodate rising demand; others may downsize. Still, others will decide on reskilling based on reassessing business models, and market opportunities gained or lost in disrupted markets. Needless to say, there are many moving parts as organizations navigate these changes. According to Perspectives by Deloitte, “Organizations must recognize that performance takes on new meaning” and leaders must ask themselves how they “will move beyond responding….. towards strategies for accelerating recovery” and team effectiveness, in order to thrive.
The events of the last year have precipitated a shift towards protecting employee health and facilitating continuous work. There has been a bonus of higher productivity resulting from new digital tools, and less time commuting in some instances.
While some of this may change and revert to previous practices, it is likely that greater recognition of the strategic value of the workforce is permanent as the economy opens up and expands. This represents a strategic transition in organizational culture towards people first, where employees feel more cared for and valued. This change can subsequently lead to a positive impact on customer satisfaction, retention, and overall business results. People become empowered and motivated to deliver excellent services and products. They are inspired to provide a level of service that truly comes from the heart. And when something this positive is set in motion, it gets noticed in terms of business results and company reputation*.
As mentioned in an earlier post, the impact of pandemic-induced changes moved “HR teams to the forefront to lead organizational change while ensuring the safety and productivity of employees.” As HR becomes a key strategic business partner, organizations need to make the best decisions about the workforce quickly.
To manage in a rapidly changing environment, managers need ways to monitor their remote, virtual talent in ways that go well beyond just individual goals and performance. They need to have immediate access to relevant workforce data, spending less time in tedious, time-consuming reporting and analysis, and more time in strategic work that helps the people in the organization maintain high levels of productivity.
When employees return to workplaces, HR needs to be prepared with data that communicates why certain protocols may be required, things such as facility access guidelines, distancing or modified workspace layout. Employees expect the same or greater level of transparency as things progress to a new normal.
In our rapidly changing work environment, there are many ways that employers can meet higher expectations for workforce insight. These include:
• Health and safety: Track and report COVID-19 cases and other health incidents to react quickly and minimize exposure. Monitor progress on safety objectives and take action on detected incidents.
• Absence and accruals: Track absence trends and areas of low productivity. Manage absences globally while enabling local customization and best practices.
• Inclusion: Track employee sentiment and engagement through internal surveys and external social media data.
• Team effectiveness: Understand how well people are working in virtual teams, and employee productivity.
• Retention: Understand employee churn, including special reports for voluntary terminations, new hire terminations, and general turnover ratios.
• Recruiting: See a 360-degree view of the hiring process, including candidate behavior.
• Return to the workplace: Combine external and internal data for a holistic view of your employees as you create returning guidelines as they evolve.
As organizations realize that people insights and management are key to creating and delivering the best possible products and services, data and analytics become the fuel that keeps the HR engine running smoothly. In fact, HR analytics will play an increasingly vital role in the strategic transition in organizational cultures going forward, helping define corporate strategy and the use of workforce insights to nurture talent and create value.
*Rosenbluth, Hal and Diane McFerrin Peters. The Customer Comes Second. Harper Business, 2002.