Well before businesses across America were forced to rethink every aspect of their strategic, operational and management plans for 2020, people analytics had taken hold as a means for making a broad range of talent decisions based on data. All signs pointed to a sustained movement towards data-driven human capital management practices, especially as related to hiring, engaging and retaining talent. In fact, according to the LinkedIn Global Talent Trends 2020 report, 85% of talent professionals identified people analytics as “very important to the future of recruiting and HR” prior to the global pandemic.
As organizations emerge from the coronavirus crisis, we should expect that people analytics will continue to be an area of growth and further investment. However, given the extreme changes the workforce has—and will—grapple with for many months, if not years, it’s necessary to consider how people analytics practices and priorities should evolve in order to support talent and business needs in a post-coronavirus world.
Before: Talent Attraction & Retention
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, the application of analytics to the HR function was shaped by current economic conditions, including historically low unemployment. This translated into fierce competition for talent across all levels and industries, which meant that many organizations sought to use data to improve their hiring and retention strategies. More specifically, people analytics programs were implemented to help talent acquisition teams better assess sources of top talent as well as the cultural fit of candidates. Other efforts focused on identifying “flight risk” among current employees sooner rather than later so that managers could work to retain key employees before they gave notice.
In addition, the pressure among companies to innovate gave rise to the use of organizational network analysis (ONA)—a subset of people analytics—to understand how work truly gets accomplished within a company and which teams are best at collaborating and, ultimately, producing breakthrough ideas.
After: Well-being & Collaboration
Nobody knows exactly what the world will look like following the pandemic, but we do know that the talent challenges that we will face post-coronavirus will be different. HR and talent acquisition teams seeking to move their people analytics initiatives forward can take this time to assess where the impacts will be the greatest and, therefore, what their organizations should focus on as they move forward from the crisis.
For instance, we can expect to see greater emphasis on people analytics to further the well-being of employees, especially the ability to reveal through data which benefits and programs are most effective in supporting mental health. While employee well-being was already top of mind before the pandemic, it’s clear that the crisis has only increased anxiety and worry among all workforce segments. Greater isolation due to remote working coupled with social-distancing guidelines will further impact the mental health of employees and, therefore, productivity. According to the World Health Organization’s information sheet on mental health in the workplace, the estimated cost to the global economy due to depression and anxiety is already at “US$1 trillion per year in lost productivity.”
What companies choose to do during the crisis—and as we come out of it—to support the well-being of employees reflects the organization’s work culture, values and employer brand. This is relevant not just to the productivity of current workers but also the ability to attract and retain top talent. As Mercer reported in its 2020 Global Talent Trends Study, 49% of employees “prefer an organization that protects employees’ health and financial well-being.”
Likewise, companies stand to gain from ONA as they try to strengthen connections among an increasingly remote workforce. Nearly overnight, millions of employees across the country went from working alongside one another in an office setting to working from home. Prior to the outbreak, it was estimated that roughly 3.6% of employees worked from home at least half of the work week. Now, with some global corporations noting that up to 95% of their staff is working from home due to the pandemic, several industry analysts expect to see a spike in work-from-home arrangements even after shelter-in-place orders are lifted. In fact, Global Workplace Analytics estimates that the percentage of remote workers could rise as high as 30%.
As such, ONA can lead to an understanding of how relationships among team members have changed in a post-coronavirus world where far more people work remotely than ever before. And, even more importantly, ONA can identify management strategies that empower teams in this new environment and facilitate the strong collaboration required for a successful business recovery. One approach to solving for this would be to learn how the changes teams have faced at home and at work translate to better or worse outcomes. Organizations can identify two teams performing similarly pre-crisis, yet differently post-crisis, and use a Difference in Differences (DID) analysis to arrive at the net effect attributable to the unique ways the teams have been impacted.
What’s useful to glean from the examples posed above is that if your organization wants to launch or maintain a people analytics practice in the coming months, it’s essential to pause now to map out potential scenarios and clearly define the outcomes you hope to achieve—doing so will provide an invaluable framework for effective people analytics program design and execution.
Learn more about how to adapt your people analytics programs for a new world of work. Download our brief, People Analytics in a Post-coronavirus World, from our Resources library.