caveman emerging ready to post 3Workforce Analytics is a critical component for any company as it needs to navigate through the course of the pandemic.  Many epidemiological experts track a pandemic by the level of infection rates and the impact on the population in general and the workforce specifically.  The Phases of a Pandemic are:

1) an Initial SHIFT – Infection rates rising, work gets done remotely, productivity initially is impacted and lowered, and the key concern centers on the well-being of the employee population and then providing the workforce the tools and underlying technology to accomplish their critical tasks on a day to day basis.

2) PEAK – infection rates are peaking, WFH predominates, employees settle into new routines, environments and new family WFH dynamics, initial fatigue sets in, employee engagement might be waning.

3) RESET – infection rates are flattening, business reevaluates all forecasts, and begins planning re-opening strategies and workforce return approaches, employees are surveyed about their willingness to return to the office.

4) RETURN – infection rates decline and stabilize at an acceptable level. Employees seek return to new normal and seem eager to return to the office. Furloughed employees are reactivated.

So, the workforce will eventually return. How and when that happens is unknown as of now.

But what is known is the need for any company to track and maintain basic data about the workforce, and then analyze that data by converting the raw data into meaningful information leading to actionable insights and programs, policies and initiatives.

According to a survey by Sapient Insights (in their 23rd Annual HR Systems Survey – summary by  Ms. Kim Seals) – The top 5 actions taken by an organization in response to Covid-19 are:

  1. Redistributed critical workforce
  2. Postponed HR- related special projects
  3. Furloughed workers temporarily
  4. Reduced or eliminated contract workers
  5. Increased technology spend on infrastructure (WFH and touchless work environments)

The Workforce Analytics throughout these 4 phases which often drives the above corporate responses, requires specific categories of data to be meaningful. Some are absolutely required to be maintained by HRMS technology.  Some data is obtained from external sources such as health agencies.  Some other important data might be maintained in other corporate master files outside of HRMS – such as cost data related to specific operations and Covid best practices.

Here are a few:

The obvious external data is the RATE OF INFECTION – BY GEOGRAPHY – where the company has operations and offices.

The rest must be within an HRMS solution and accessible at every moment,  from everywhere and by those who need access. The data must be presented as graphical dashboards and must be able to be sliced and diced, compiled and totaled any which way, as well as be able to show trends etc. And importantly, immediately and intrinsically understood by all whom view the content.  This data would include:

  • Employee Covid Status – Test Dates, Results
  • Employee Exposure Status – Family Member Exposures
  • Employee WFH status code
  • Employee Employment status: FT, PT, Active, Furloughed, LOA, Terminated/Date
  • Employee Work Availability – WFH only, Blended, Office ok
  • Job Title
  • Job Classification – essential, critical, etc.
  • Job Location – pre Covid – work location – geography – City, State, etc.
  • Employee Work Schedule
  • Supervisor Data
  • Job Location – during Covid – place where work is being done – Name, City, State etc.
  • Employee Contact data – mobile phone, emails, etc.
  • Employee Access to internal systems – yes/no/which
  • Return rates of Furloughed employees
  • Days absent due to Covid illness
  • Plus; all the typical demographic, compensation, attendance, benefits, performance data, and more – as needed – which should be within the HRMS solution database.

Additionally, and I would say most importantly, the emotional WELL-BEING of the employee population – wherever they are and however they are trying to provide value, must be ascertained. Programs directed at overall Mental Wellness (counseling), instilling a sense of community and providing continuous listening (with empathy) must be formalized and visible throughout the organization.

Top Tier HRMS solution providers have greatly focused on bringing a new feature to the marketplace for helping organizations gain the emotional temperature or ‘sentiment” of the workforce. They do this by employing algorithms which can read unstructured content from employee communications and responses such as emails and survey comments. This is incredibly even more vital during the Pandemic. It can be the cause or failure of any of the Workforce Analytic driven initiatives mentioned here.

There is one issue that might arise that you need to anticipate. That being the need for a Cost Justification (or ROI) of any new (or ongoing) Pandemic related program – especially as the workforce begins to return to the office. The value of some of these program benefits may be “intangible” and difficult to quantify. Nevertheless, they are extremely important to the organization and as an HR executive you must show a reasonable value over time. This will help you gain buy-in and move forward.  This can come into play if you are considering a new module offered by your existing HRMS provider or a complete new HR technology solution.

Should you want a review of your current HR Technology environment, or would consider any up-grade, please contact me.  I would love to share and help out.  Stay Safe!

Marc Miller

Marc S Miller Associates.

Nov 11, 2020