It hasn't been long since businesses were forced to adapt the way people were being managed overnight. According to a recent Vodafone study, more than half of businesses surveyed in Asia Pacific (APAC) accelerated their digital transformation plans due to COVID-19. While these businesses are now on track to becoming future-proof, the rush-order integration of modern technologies at a massive scale has also led to a sudden volume of data for organisations to process.
HR departments are working around the clock to ensure that the existing huge volumes of data collected are properly organised, analysed, and processed to enable employees to make better business decisions.
The question looms: what more can HR departments do to keep tabs on the ever-changing needs of the workforce and safeguard employees’ mental well-being during times of disruption?
Being able to gather up-to-date, real-time data is a key starting point, but the real answer lies in how you make use of this data to trigger immediate actions.
Strengthen HR processes with data visualisation
Visualising data brings perspective, context, and comparison of information to employees at one glance. Humans are conditioned to recognise and understand trends and correlations through visualisations better than through traditional spreadsheets. Such visualisations can empower HR departments to quickly reference data in a consumable format and stay apprised of HR-related issues, such as tracking the health and safety of employees in real-time.
It is vital for HR departments to choose the correct visualisation to ensure the success of any data dashboard. This choice extends both in the use of colors and the kinds of visualisations themselves.
For instance, avoid using only one color when displaying a set of key performance indicators (KPIs). Stick to color conventions where the user instinctively knows that they are looking at recruitment, employee, or attrition data based on the color of the chart or KPI. Another common pain point is the overuse of pie charts which limits the representation of information to one data set. In contrast, a stacked bar chart can show multiple data sets across multiple variables.
Use analytics to increase connectivity in teams
To take a step further from data visualisation, HR teams can augment existing employee demographic data with other useful information such as where and how employees live and work. Through this, HR departments can gain employee insights in real-time as opposed to hours using traditional spreadsheets. Such a holistic view enables HR managers to develop policies that provide a more thought-out and personalised assistance. For example, choosing which employees should return to the office or continue to work remotely after a natural disaster occurred. HR can then provide adequate support faster, in the form of food arrangements or office shuttles.
For example, during the pandemic, L&T Technologies Services (LTTS), an engineering and research and development (R&D) services leader, shifted nearly all of its on-site and off-site employees to remote work within days of the lockdown in India. This shift was possible by leveraging analytical tools such as Qlik Sense and the support from cross-functional teams, which allowed HR teams to closely monitor employees’ productivity through utilisation reports, utilisation trend analyses, and billed efforts. LTTS’s weCare application also remotely tracked the health conditions of employees and their close family members, while offering other in-built functions such as identifying work and food arrangements for employees who need to report back to the office.
Besides first-party data, HR departments can also leverage data sources from credible third parties to complement the data sets they have in their dashboard. One example is the Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center, a helpful central source that collects and analyses data on COVID-19 cases, deaths, tests, hospitalisations, and vaccines to help businesses and policymakers worldwide make more informed decisions regarding the health and safety of their employees.
Recognise how to use your most valuable asset
Most businesses have a remote working strategy in place by now which includes technology training, access to increased productivity tools and equipment and even planned learning and development sessions. However, these strategies need to go beyond employees’ contact tracing. On top of leveraging analytics to improve HR processes and increase workplace connectivity, businesses need to consider their most important asset: human capital.
Business leaders can work closely with HR to ensure business continuity and develop a clear strategy and roadmap to build a strong corporate culture and keep the workforce motivated and engaged. Some tactics include the provision of training and upskilling programs for in-demand skills like data literacy. To support employee well-being, Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), social groups, and mental-health applications are also options for HR leaders to explore.
Over the long-term, those businesses with the ability to work and thrive in a data-driven environment will have the upper hand in making better decisions for workplace transformation strategies, ultimately setting the business up for success.
This article was originally published in April 2021.