Ensuring Better Workforce Strategies with People Analytics during COVID-19

by June 29, 2020

covid19People Analytics ensure strengthened workforce management during COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, time is a luxury that leaders don’t have. COVID-19 has upended business as usual for communities and corporations, which must now strive first and foremost to save lives and livelihoods. Communities, specifically governments and healthcare workers, are leading efforts to support victims and their families and contain a virus that already has infected millions of people globally and claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. At the same time, business leaders must protect their employees and customers while managing the economic repercussions in the wake of community lockdowns, consumer fear, and continual uncertainty. The decisions they make today may alter their company’s trajectory for years to come.

To move this trajectory to bright outcomes, human resources leaders are turning to people analytics tools to help make difficult decisions as their staffs return to the workplace and face a damaged economy. Whether it’s figuring out how to keep workers safe, making decisions on furloughs and layoffs, or ensuring the right number of employees are in the right roles, these technologies collect, blend and analyze people data to guide HR leaders in their “what if” scenario planning.

Research shows the use of people analytics software was on the rise even before the coronavirus crisis hit. Now experts say many HR leaders are doubling down on the use of those tools.


What is People Analytics?

People analytics, also known as HR analytics, provides insight into how HR processes, employee experiences and organizational success are linked. For example, the HR sector is highly focused on providing good training programs. On the surface, that seems like a good thing — but do these training programs actually improve employee engagement? In turn, does increased engagement lead to better financial results? People analytics can provide answers to these questions.


Role of People analytics during COVID-19

Reportedly, 180 surveys of 75,000 employees across 10 different countries during the COVID-19 crisis have revealed that:

• 71% of employees are concerned.

• 60% are struggling to find a good work-life balance.

• 33% are experiencing low levels of effectiveness.

• 25–50% report reduced productivity due to other distractions.

It implies that people analytics helps organizations better understand how COVID-19 affects their employees. The technology also helps organizations to develop the most effective HR strategies. This is especially useful in times of crisis when it is important to find out what works and what does not.


Use Cases of People Analytics during Pandemic

One of the most popular uses of people analytics at this time has been the integration of public health data into people analytics dashboards to gain insight into employee health – primarily, their potential to have been exposed to and carry the COVID-19 virus, and their potential return to work.

This data can help the business determine in which state/city operations can be resumed safely. It can help identify the risk factors of employees who may need to resume work that involves a high amount of contact with customers – such as in retail stores.

Secondly, the remote work model that was imposed upon people has become a welcome change to the way businesses work. In PwC’s CFO Pulse Survey, 68% said that the “crisis-driven transitions to remote work will make their company better in the long run.”

Dr. Serena Huang, the global head of people analytics at the Kraft Heinz Company, tells how the company has used people analytics through the COVID-19 crisis. “Our goal throughout has been to create a continuous listening strategy to ensure employees’ voices are heard. For example, we designed and validated employee surveys, and quickly turned feedback data into actionable insights for leaders. We have been regularly asking employees for feedback on various topics, such as team collaboration, company communications, home office setup, and wellbeing.”

People Analytics can be used for workforce planning as well. In the case of workforce planning, deploying people analytics can help you identify your staffing requirements. Use data collected on employee skills and competencies to optimize the role of each employee and answer several questions. Moreover, if you need to lay off current employees, delving into the same data can help you make logical decisions about whom to lay off and differentiate between critical and redundant employees.

Further, using people analytics data can do is providing complete transparency, which the organization can then communicate to its employees.

Employees are concerned about the return to work – not only can the fear of contracting the COVID-19 virus prevail, but the associated stress and anxiety from merely being exposed can also take a toll on employee productivity.

Nik Shah, people analytics leader at PwC talks about the value of transparency in building trust with the workforce as they return to work: “Transparency right now is key and with the ability to provide employees with information as to whether or not they were in close proximity with an individual who tested positive, companies can provide increased efficiency of exposure, and, in turn, help build the trust of their workforce as they play a critical role in easing tension with employees as they return to the office.”