Covid-19: How HR Analytics Can Help Businesses Thrive in The New Normal

Covid-19 has created a new reality for businesses. It has led to a massive paradigm shift, pushing organisations to prepare for the future, and to adopt a people-first response to the current crisis. Successfully managing social distancing, and implementing remote working has become critical to managing the crisis with resilience and ensuring long-term business sustenance. Employee engagement and productivity concerns have understandably become front and center. In India, 95% of talent professionals consider employee experience to shape the future of HR, according to a recent LinkedIn report. The same report also suggests that 55% of HR leaders struggle with people analytics. And in this new reality, the adoption of HR analytics (to make data-driven decisions) has become critical to monitor and measure organisational and employee productivity.

 

Having said that, workforce management priorities and objectives have changed in the following ways for companies:-

 

Managing changes in operational models and increase in digitisation: Given the current crisis most organisations have had to quickly change the way they operate, and move a majority of, or their complete workforce to remote-working in order to adhere to social distancing protocols. In such a scenario, digitisation of processes to ensure increased efficiency and productivity, while reducing overhead costs has become paramount. As an example, virtual onboarding has been adopted and implemented by organisations; key improvements in processes and technology have become important to save time on coordination and management.

 

Result orientation, recalibration of targets and change in KPIs: With business dynamics severely impacted due to Covid-19, organisations are forced to recalibrate their targets, planning levers and change KPI/KRAs for each job role in order to correctly measure productivity, and monitor the level of output. Additionally, with the adoption of remote working, traditional HR methods of monitoring employee activity and performance against billed hours might not accurately work anymore. Hence, the focus has shifted more on increasing transparency by creating a detailed plan and tracking progress and output. By shifting towards a result-oriented and project management approach, companies will be better able to ensure that KPI/KRAs are aligned with the organisation and team objectives.

 

Integrating requirements for agile/ connected platforms: With work dynamics having changed so rapidly, companies are beginning to realise the importance of having integrated HRMS tools, along with interactive dashboards to provide insights and analytics on workforce data points. An integrated HRMS platform offers modules like performance management, learning and development, rewards and recognition, among others which are integrated - all in one place.

 

There are already strong indications that over time, businesses will start including a flexible working model, where a certain section of their workforce (33%-50%) will be working from the office at any given time - leading to a long-term shift of operating models. HRMS tools and integrated platforms will come handy in such a scenario to help create flexible and agile processes, and seamlessly configure changes to roll-out implementation at all levels.

 

Better People Analytics for Better Functioning Companies

 

Analytics tools and technologies can be used to tackle important use cases such as sales forecasting, competition tracking, traffic analytics, fraud prevention, customer attrition/ prediction, among others. Analytics can also become very useful to the human resources teams to manage remote work better and address organisation and employee needs, helping drive improved profitability and reduced costs.

 

People analytics can help an organisation, and its leaders make data-driven decisions about their employees. While it's taken some time, companies have now started realising the many benefits of using advanced analytics and how it can be applied to improve scouting talent, recruiting, hiring and on-boarding, training, performance improvement, attrition, employee demographics, boosting employee happiness, retention and everything in between.

 

While in recent years the HR fraternity has increased the adoption of analytics to make data-driven decisions, the majority of the application has been limited to descriptive analytics; wherein the focus lies on taking historical data and summarising it to make it easy to understand. For example, taking a headcount report and using it to get an insight into demographics. However, the current scenario calls for the use of predictive analytics (predicting the future scenario) and prescriptive analytics wherein the focus is on doing something about the predictions and providing recommendations on what to do in the future, based on past and current capabilities and priorities.

 

By setting up a valuable and well-formed people analytics framework, organisations can become future-ready, survive the pandemic, and even thrive over time.

 

Traditional HR Approach Won’t Be Effective Anymore

 

In this regard, it is important to understand some of the challenges that exist with traditional HR. For one, traditional HR doesn’t weed out unconscious bias - which might come into play during the processes of hiring and retention, and even performance management. Additionally, conventional HR systems maintain a narrow focus on people management, employee retention and appraisals. It also has its own challenges when it comes to measuring effectiveness and efficiency. In a CIPD survey (2018) with more than 3,500 business professionals, only 39% had access to people data for decision-making purposes.

 

Across companies, HR departments are now moving towards adopting people analytics to a greater level than ever before. However, challenges still remain. A recent Deloitte survey, for example, found that 75% of companies believe that using people analytics is essential. Interestingly, however, only 8% believe that their organisation is strong in this area.

 

One of the biggest reasons as to why the adoption of statistical insights and data analytics to make talent management decisions is so low is because most companies have a narrow approach to data analysis. The focus needs to move away from siloed data to creating a true cross-company analytics set-up which can provide a greater degree of confidence to users and decision makers.

 

New-age HRMS technologies can help companies overcome a lot of these challenges; right from securing and storing data, managing payroll and employee satisfaction, to complying with guidelines. It makes work lives easier for HR teams allowing them to focus on roadmap planning, in turn, letting the technology handle mundane tasks and monotonous work. The benefits are increased productivity for the HR so that they can focus on more creative and relationship-driven tasks.

 

Understanding People Analytics in A Covid-19 World

 

With people-analytics becoming a priority for organisations in a Covid-19 world, how can companies leverage their data sources (employee surveys, salary history, recruitment data etc.) to make the right decisions? Here are some ways in which people analytics can help companies grow;

 

  1. Real-time analytics/ information means businesses can take immediate action to capitalise on opportunities
  2. Make smarter decisions pertaining to employee health and wellness, remote work processes, and better plan workforce programs
  3. Use HR analytics to keep track of which companies are hiring, and/ or letting go of employees, and even track the effects of Covid-19 on the job market
  4. Run a skills analysis to optimise job vacancies within an organisation, which is especially useful for those companies with a tight budget. Additionally, people analytics can also help monitor employee training data enabling employees to upskill, and reach their full potential

 

When it comes to fulfilling high level business requirements, HR analytics has a wide range of scope - it provides integrated data from multiple sources, enabling a 360-degree view of employees, helps maintain one version of truth and prevents duplication of data and effort.

 

By following best practices in designing the ETL framework, we at Polestar bring our framework to manage auditing, error handling and scheduling to track efficiency in real-time to provide visibility into costs. Over the years, we have worked with top players to deliver cutting edge HR solutions helping them gain insights across the entire hire-to-retire cycle. Our solutions help companies analyse the ‘why’ and ‘when’ of different parameters, helping companies across industries make better decisions. We also recently launched an HR application with extensive AI/ML capabilities that can help organisations streamline their HR processes. The product can predict the joining probability, churn probability, parse any kind of resume with high degree of accuracy and identify a suitable list of candidates from the resume database for a given job opening.

 

Conclusion

 

Proactive decision making facilitated by HR analytics can help organisations mitigate risks and emerge on top of things. People analytics can help provide valuable data and in turn improve spending, productivity and operations benefiting an organisation holistically. Some of the ways in which companies can overcome the challenges of adopting HR analytics is by reassuring their people that analytics aids human decision-making, helps maintain rigor, and keeps projects focused on solving business problems. In the long run, the goal is to improve the analytical skills of the HR function and enable HR in managing the future of the workforce more efficiently - that is where the need of the hour lies.

 

 

Ankit Rana is Vice President at Polestar Solutions & Services India Pvt. Ltd. He leads the Data Management Practices at Polestar Solutions. He has over 10 years of extensive experience in business intelligence and in carving out customer-centric, integrated, complex and large greenfield solutions and projects across the globe for private, public and government sector clients. He has strategic and technological thought-leadership knowledge on business intelligence and data warehousing in various roles including program management, BI architecture, data transformation and data modeling.

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